From the tourist filled club circuit of Myrtle beach at age 14 to the bright lights of Nashville, Brother Trouble's Mark Sutton confessed he traveled an unusual route to reach success in the Music City.
Describing himself as the "long haired" member of the talented duo, along with brother Jason, he related the story of landing a spot as a guitar player and back-up singer with Little Texas, a break he credits with putting the group on the path to stardom.
"I got a phone call when Little Texas got back together in 2003 and was offered the opportunity to go on the road with the band, not playing but selling merchandise," said Mark. "My girlfriend at the time was not real happy because I was making just $25 a day."
"No regrets, it was a great experience, it was king of an internship, I learned a lot about the business traveling on the road in tour buses, with road managers and Jason would come out with us," related Mark humbly. "One night they needed another guitar player on stage and hired me as a utility guy. So I got to hang around in the back in the shadows."
Sutton had paid his dues and was ready for his break, he performed well and fit in on stage with the rest of the group. Eventually, he earned an additional opportunity and along with his brother, would be invited up to the front of the stage to perform one of their songs during the tour and became a popular sidelight on the Little Texas stage.
Following the tour with Little Texas, the group struggled to find success in the lights of Nashville, "It is true what they say about Nashville, everybody sings and everybody plays," said Sutton describing themselves as "Small fish in a big pond."
The pair kept the faith and once again fortune would shine on the brothers in 2008 the when the band competed in Kenny Chesney's "Next Big Star" competition. Chesney praised the duo who won the grand prize consisting of $25,000, meetings with record label executives and national exposure as they opened for Kenny on the last three dates of his "Poets & Pirates" Tour.
Following the Chesney Tour the group landed a prime Nashville gig as a regular on stage at one of the town's hottest night clubs, The Wildhorse Saloon.
Just like when their mom was booking them dates for tips back on the South Carolina coast, the turnover crowd of tourists allowed them to showcase their original music to a new crop of fresh faces every night. "They would listen to our music and take that experience back with them to their own hometowns all over the country."
The brothers then signed with Cleveland, Ohio based Blaster Records and released the single "Summer's Little Angel," in the spring of 2011.
The group released their "Live from Nashville" album recorded at the Wildhorse Saloon on February 14 of this year. "It is 12 tracks, no studio, no auto tune, it is raw Brother Trouble," said Mark. "The music really relates to us."
The group will spend some time in Ohio this year promoting the new album. The pair appeared on Good Company on WKYC channel 3 in Cleveland in March. They will be in back in the Buckeye State for the 10th Annual LOPen Charity Golf & Music Event - "Rock the Park" at the Twinsburg Perici Amphitheater on June 22 before their appearance at Jamboree in the Hills on Saturday, July 21.
It was during the Little Texas touring they got their first taste of performing at Jamboree in the Hills, "My mom is actually from Steubenville, so we have roots in Ohio, but that is not why I remember being up there," Mark said with a chuckle. "We took a golf cart and went out into the campgrounds to see the sights, I recall backing up and running into a police officer."
He hoped the officer would not be waiting Saturday morning when the group returns to Jambo to take the main stage.
"We love country music fans," said Sutton who assured he and brother Jason would be in the merchandise tent following their performance. The band invites all of their fans to come down and say hello. The brothers will be autographing albums and some of the band's official "Hick Stuff," apparel and head wear. "A fashion brand that makes y'all say dang!" for fans following their Saturday morning performance.
Palmer can be reached at mpalmer@ timesleaderonline.com