Kopecky Family Band

If Nashville’s Kopecky Family Band never makes it higher on the ladder of success – that of an indie sextet best known in the Midwest for blending orchestral pop with Johnny and June Carter Cash and a dash of alt-country – the band members will still have accomplished something bigger than themselves.

“When you’re on stage, and you have this ability to share,” singer Kelsey Kopecky said. “I feel like it’s a responsibility to bring more goodness to the world. It can sound really cheesy, and I want to word this carefully. … We want to make our career something that also is something that also (benefits) others.”

So the Kopeckys, who titled their 2012 full-length debut Kids Raising Kids, decided to sponsor children around the world through well-established charity Compassion International. They searched profiles online and selected children based on need: A 3-year-old girl in Ecuador, another in Ghana, and now a birthing center in the Philippines.

They convinced some fans to contribute to the cause.

“The response was so overwhelming,” Kopecky said. “It was equally upsetting and inspiring to know that you could be connected so easily to (the children). It’s a really hard life these kids are living.”

For those who haven’t heard of Kopecky Family Band, performing Tuesday at the Independent, the first thing to know is that they are not a family in the traditional sense of the word.

Kopecky met guitarist Gabe Simon in 2007 while attending college in Nashville, at a game night she organized. Simon, who was studying to enter the music industry from the business side, connected with Kopecky immediately. The game they bonded over was “Catch Phrase,” something now near and dear to all of the band members.

The rest of the band members came from an extended circle of friends.

“I remember hanging out at this coffee shop called Bongo Java, and David (Krohn), our drummer would be there, and Steven (Holmes), our guitarist,” she said. Bassist Cory Oxendine and cellist Markus Midkiff were also never far away. “The musical part kind of came later. First there was just hanging out, talking about life. Eventually, we started talking about song ideas and writing together.”

“Gabe and I would meet up and practice and work on new songs (after class),” she said. “And every Saturday, our band would get up early and have band practice in a little clubhouse of one of the apartment buildings.”

The six became a “family band” when they realized how much of the most important parts of their lives they were sharing with each other. A year after independently releasing Kids Raising Kids, they signed with ATO Records, which re-released the album.

They spent two years on the road before going back to the studio to record a follow-up last month. The fall tour will be their first headlining trek to pass through the Bay Area, giving them the opportunity to bring their full arsenal. In the tradition of versatile troupes like Arcade Fire, the Kopeckys switch off between instruments. Kopecky and Oxendine can both handle the bass; she and Midkiff switch off on keyboards; Oxendine and Midkiff each take turns on guitar; Oxendine also plays horns; and Simon plays trombone.

“There’s a lot more thought that goes into (songwriting) as far as, ‘What kind of moment are we trying to create?’” Kopecky said. “We’re just trying to create these moments, emotionally and thoughtfully.”

Kopecky Family Band
The Independent
September 23, 2014
8pm, $12 (21+)

Follow writer Roman Gokhman at Twitter.com/RomiTheWriter and RomiTheWriter.Tumblr.com.