McKenzies Mill, out of Nashville, will headline with a southern fried rock ‘n’ roll flavor during the Sedalia Lions Club’s “Backyard Bash” hosted this Saturday on the Missouri State Fairgrounds.
Brothers Justin and Ryan Harris, formerly of the small town of West End, N.C., began their band 10 years ago. They now reside in Nashville and have won awards for their music.
“We’re a southern rock, kind of a self-proclaimed southern fried rock ‘n’ roll (band),” said Justin by phone on Tuesday. “It’s kind of a term we like to use. We don’t like to say southern rock, because that leans too much toward Lynard Skynyrd, of which we love and are definitely influenced by, but our music is very much country songs with old school rock ‘n’ roll that we wrap all that with.”
He said they made the decision to dedicate their lives to the band and music with a move to Nashville in 2006 — and the rest is history.
The band was recently selected by the Country Music Awards as the 2014 “Who’s New to Watch.”
“That was published in their February publication and we’ve able to get a lot of notoriety from that,” Justin said. “We’ve won numerous contests over the years. A couple years ago, a big one that we won, that we’re particularly proud of, because it was a fan voted thing … Bud Light hosted their national talent search and we were able to win that — again all fan-voted. They chose three winners and we finished first.”
Many of McKenzies Mill’s pieces are composed by the brothers.
“We write about 80 percent of our material,” he said. “We seem to know a lot of really talented people here in Nashville. And when a good song comes our way that we didn’t write, we’re not dummies, if we hear a good song we’re going to consider it, and throw it in our set. We have a few tunes that we do that we didn’t write, but writing is really where our passion lays, and very important to us. So, most of the music we do is written by us.”
On a McKenzies Mill Official YouTube video Justin said the name McKenzies Mill comes from the road he and his brother grew up on in West End, N.C.; and together they produce high-octane, guitar driven songs such as “Dirty Things.”
“She might have played me like a fool, but like the wind it blows. Dirty things come and dirty things go …” the song goes.
Described as “in-your-face” and “high energy,” Justin noted on the video this particular song has helped open doors for them and propel them into winning contests.
In the video he says everything they write is “based on life,” with the consideration of the fans and whether they will like the song.
Both brothers sing.
“That’s kind of the signature thing about our sound, and our harmonies and being brothers,” he added by phone. “It’s just really easy to sing harmonies with family, it’s something that’s hard to explain. We both sing lead, and we both sing background. We swap-up certain songs, certain parts of different songs — there’s just a lot of back-and-forth between the two of us on stage.”
Performances are with their four-member band: drummer Shane Hoskins, Paul Newton and Nick Goodale both on guitar and Ben King on bass.
“On stage there is six of us, so we make a lot of noise,” he added.
Justin said they will hit the stage around 8 p.m. Saturday night and the audience should expect a spirited performance.
“(We’re) high energy, not high energy because we’re running all over the place, but we just get up there and have a good time,” he said. “(We) crank it up and sing our songs, and hope that the good time we’re having translates out there to the crowd. You know, kind of make it one big party. We’ll do, obviously a ton of our own material, and sneak in some crowd-pleasers as well. We’ll do some stuff that everybody knows and can sing along to. It will be fun.”
As for crowd pleasing songs Justin said they play and sing southern rock songs from the Allman Brothers and Lynard Skynyrd.
“We may do a couple top 40 country songs,” he added. “We’re able to cover a lot of ground, we’ve been doing this a long time. So, to be honest with you, we’ll probably just get there and feel it out.”
At present the band has two recordings out, “One Hell of a Ride!” (2007) with 12 tracks and “McKenzies Mill,” (2009) with 10 tracks; they are planning on producing another one soon.
“Well, recording a third record is very much on our to-do list,” he said. “We just recently signed a new management deal, and a new booking deal, so we’re really excited about a lot of things we have going on here in Nashville.”
McKenzies Mill hopes to arrive in Sedalia on Friday, and they plan to arrive at Saturday’s event early.
“We plan to get there plenty early so we can get to the event and enjoy ourselves,” Justin said. “If there’s beer, barbecue and music, I don’t want to miss that.”
McKenzies Mill is on social media on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and iTunes, plus they have a website at McKenziesMill.com.
“All of our records and singles can be purchased, if anyone is interested,” he added. “… and hopefully it won’t be too long before you guys will be hearing McKenzies Mill on your mainstream radio stations.”
The Sedalia Lions Club’s “Backyard Bash” will be from noon until midnight Saturday under the roof of the Swine Pavilion on the Missouri State Fairgrounds. The cost is $10.