Stomp N Holler’s leader Stephen Bourassa is a busy man these days. His Worcester-based country band will be hosting and organizing the Stomp N Brew Fest at Worcester’s Greater Good Imperial Brewing on Sunday, August 4.
Stomp N Holler became the main act sharing the name with the Festival because his band is putting on the “We’re partnering with the Greater Good Imperial Brewery,” Bourassa said. “I approached them about doing a country and beer fest and they loved the idea, hopped on board. They’re providing a lot of publicity, obviously the facility, and funding. There will be a $15 ticket in advance. We’ll have Worcester food trucks as well.”
“We put on our first country festival last year at Halligan’s (in Auburn, Massachusetts),” he said. “We partnered with Halligan’s to create a Veterans’ Day country festival. It went over really well. We decided that the best way to get ourselves out there is to put on our own party.”
Bourassa has been involved with other festivals in his Worcester music scene. We will be doing the veterans day country fest at Halligan’s in November,” he said. “We’re not putting it on but were playing at the Fab 40 Music and Farm Festival on the 21st. We just did a couple of festivals in New Hampshire in June.”
“The nice thing is they’ve been reaching out to us,” Bourassa said.
Bourassa feels Stomp N Holler is a good fit for this festivals because his band has been building the kind of following since 2015 that can draw a several dozen people to a show.
“We’ve been together since about 2015. After the first year we actually have been increasing our following, our draw. We’ve been blessed with a fantastic lineup of musicians to share the stage and grow with as we’ve been fine tuning our show as far as the music that we play. Currently, we’re predominantly cover material, but we have an eclectic mix of country and country rock. There’s so much country that’s in rock. Whether you take something like the Eagles or even the Grateful Dead have country roots in them, Tom Petty, and you get into the southern rock. And we pull out ‘Fat Bottomed Girls,’ that’s a country song. It really is. Our original material has been coming along, and we’ve been getting response with that as well.”
As a youth, Bourassa had turned his nose up to his father’s country music collection. Yet, years later, the drummer was talked into it by Stomp N Holler’s lead singer, Susan Workman. He put a band together for her. “It’s a lot of fun. It’s like learning a new language. Country swings. It’s like jazz, jazz swings. Reggae swings. It’s all related. It’s actually kind of cool.”
There will be three other bands at Stomp N Brew Fest as well as four singer-songwriters. Bourassa’s criteria for selecting bands is multiple. “Two of the bands we did the other country fest with, “ Bourassa said. “Mychael David. One, he’s a great person. He’s a great supporter of music. He’s a great talent. We just love the show they put on. They’re a couple of steps ahead of us at this point where they put on a great big show. They’re a tight band, and they know what they’re doing.”
Bourassa also has Elvis Presley tribute band Fellowship Of The King in the line up. “They’re a fantastic band,” Bourassa exclaimed. “They rock. They do the music justice, and they got their own edge to it. Elvis comes from Tennessee, that area, and has a country, gospel background. Our StompNBrew Fest isn’t just country. It’s stomp. It’s that kind of band.”
Bourassa has good friends Donald Prange who’s band is the jug band Wormtown Mugwumps. “They’re a folky, old time country, and they’ve been filling up Nick’s once or twice a month on Saturday afternoon, which is am amazing thing. He’s very personable. He’s a throwback to the 60s, and he’s a fantastic human being and good songwriter and good artist. I wanted to give him some air time.”
Singer-songwriter Sean Ryder will be performing his own music. Stan Matthews, the “Johnny Cash of Worcester” as people call him, is also in the lineup. Young country talent Lexi Zarozny who’s been making her way through the scene.
“I was producing a songwriter’s series at Franks in Worcester a year ago. That’s how I came into contact with a lot of the great songwriters in Worcester because there is a lot. There’s a lot of aspiring, accomplished songwriters,” Bourassa said. David Lee Brosseau, who is also in the show line up, “wrote a song called ‘My Baby’s Made From Mud‘. He has the grit of country, hard working, blue collar guy, young family, great person. People would love to hear him.”
The limited number of tickets available is 200 and the event can take place either outdoors or indoors. “If it rains it’s going to have to go indoors,” Bourassa said. “What Greater Good is doing is the bands are going to play off the loading dock. We’re going to be roping off a big section of the parking lot and the food trucks will be there. We’ll probably have some corn hole tournaments.” Vendors will include Dogfathers, Scoop Daddy Ice Cream, Bird’s Nest Italian Food.
Stomp N Holler has been together since 2015. The other members of Stomp N Holler singer Suze Workman, nationally recognized guitarist Jodee Frawlee,
guitarist and bass player Jeff “JT” Thomas, keyboardist Brian Eggleston, bass player Kevin T. Norris, fiddler Dave Kassel, guitar and bass player David J. Lieb, and pedal steel, acoustic and electric guitar player Carl Mesrobian.
“The musicians in this band have played together in other bands,” he said. “Musicians know each other no matter where you are. Susan, who’s our lead singer, wanted to sing and do a band. She’s done Motown, Stax. She came up with the idea of singing in a country band and she had sung in a country band before. So, I said ‘Let’s put together a country band’ and it’s been going and growing.”
A drummer, Bourassa is a late comer to the country music genres and had always been a pop rock guy. He put his first band together in fourth grade and he began writing songs in high school. Country music, eventually, appealed to Bourassa for essentially the same reasons it’s become a popular genre. It’s subject matter tends to be about every day life.
“It hearkens back to older days when things were better,” Bourassa said. “We’re just hit with a lot of negativity, especially on social media nowadays. I think country music, it’s that down home reason. For some people it reminds them of the country I grew up in.”
Bourassa’s Stomp N Holler averages a turn out of about 70 people each weekend. The secrets of their success have been using social media to get the word out, never overplaying a venue, and promoting each gig as an event as opposed to just a few people playing in a room.
“We don’t play the same town every weekend. That works for some but some of those people who are doing that are staying at one level,” he said. “We’re being sought out to do festivals. We don’t over book. We plan it as an event, a happening, and that’s what people are noticing.”
Stomp N Holler could whip out songs by Johnny Cash, Miranda Lambert, and Chris Stapleton. “We mix the old stuff in, then we play Kenny Chesney,” Bourassa said. “I think what’s popular today is less about being deep and more about good times.”
Bourassa has been composing original music and has been talking to a Nashville producer who is interested in recording them.
“I’m doing all the writing at the moment. What’s coming out is a fantastic country love song. What’s going to make it country in the end? Is it the subject matter? Is it the production? When we all go into the studio and everyone puts their two cent on it, we’ll see what comes out. I’ve got a shuffle, an old time thing, with a rap in the middle. The end product is going to be a mix, but it’s definitely going to be country.”
Stomp N Holler headline Stomp N Brew Fest 2019 The event runs from noon until 6:00 p.m.