Eastern Heights Live at Silver Dollar City Country Music Days,
September 11th-15th 2019
Eastern Heights taking Branson by storm 3-24-16
For the last eight months, a group of local musicians calling themselves Eastern Heights have been taking Branson’s late night entertainment scene by storm, performing a mix of country, rock ‘n’ roll, R & B and original music.
The band features Rob Blackburn, 25, Tyler Stephans, 20, Tyler Landry, 21, and 19-year-old Grant Moody, and a keyboard player “to be announced” soon. Their journey began last year when Blackburn, who performs at Grand Country, and Moody, who performs in the “Pierce Arrow” show, were both members of the Brett’s show.
“One day Rob came in and he was talking about writing some original music,” Moody said. “We talked and he suggested coming over to his house and recording in his little studio. We started writing and recording, and realized we had some really good songs but nowhere to play.”
Realizing they had the makings of an interesting musical endeavor, Moody called on longtime friend and bass player Stephans, and drummer Zach Landry to fill out the lineup. The guys say their original tunes fall in the “modern country” genre, similar to Rascal Flatts, Luke Bryan and Hunter Hayes.
“That’s the kind of sound we’re going for, and we didn’t really even know what our sound would be until our first night in the studio,” Blackburn said with a laugh. “We hear it back and think ‘Wow, this sounds like something that could actually be played on the radio.
They guys were so happy with how their originals turned out, they even filmed a music video.
“We put our first original music video out earlier this year to a song called ‘Without You,’” Blackburn said. “Within like a week and a half, we’d already gotten 5,000 views, so that really got us excited.”
He said they’re hoping to put out another song and video to their original tune “Local Honey” within the next few months.
“People have heard us do that one live, and it’s gotten good responses,” Blackburn said. “It’s a fun, edgy tune with kind of a Jason Aldean vibe to it.”
Even though the boys in the band were anxious to perform, they knew performing strictly originals was a tough sell, especially in Branson. In order to make sure the original tunes were as polished and complete as possible, the guys opted to perform a majority of cover songs, adding an original here and there.
Their set list features a wide array of country and rock ‘n’ roll tunes from Kenny Loggins and Lynyrd Skynyrd to Vince Gill and Bruno Mars.
“We don’t get to play Bruno Mars at work,” Moody said with a laugh. “I love the variety of what we play.”
The strategy worked, and the band began getting booked for gigs at Branson’s Center Stage Grille & Bar and Shindigs. They’ve also performed at a wedding, as well as several private events.
“We really like to read the crowd and react to what they like, and what is going to get them on the dance floor,” Blackburn said. “The guys in the group are very talented, and we made sure to know enough songs to change during the set to make sure we keep the dance floor full.”
While the guy were enjoying their early success as primarily a “cover band,” the originals weren’t forgotten.
“The end goal is to get the original stuff out there, and we started slipping one in there to see if people notice, and see what they think,” Blackburn. “They’ve been responding to it really well.”
With many local groups featuring young Branson entertainers producing their own original music, Blackburn said those groups have served as an inspiration to what they’re going for.
“Prince Ivan really is an inspiration for us, not genre-wise because they do pop music, but because they’re doing their own thing and this great original stuff,” Blackburn said. “There really isn’t a group of younger entertainers doing the new, modern country stuff.”
Even though there are many local and regional bands the guys draw inspiration from, they’re out to blaze a trail all their own.
“When we first started this, I told Rob I didn’t want to be the Horn Dawgs, or the Missouri Plowboys, or the Kraken, or Prince Ivan, I want us to be Eastern Heights,” Moody said. “I hope when people hear us, that’s what they think.”