May 30--As far as lofty comparisons go, Kopecky Family Band has a doozy. The six-piece act from Nashville was featured in a recent New York Times piece. The story connected their pop sound -- male and female vocals, lush instrumentation and strong melodies -- to legendary group Fleetwood Mac.
Singer-keyboardist Kelsey Kopecky says her first reaction was "Whoa, that's amazing," especially since she calls Stevie Nicks "one of my greatest inspirations." It even gave Kopecky's parents a handy reference point to describe the band's sound, she says.
But such comparisons can be daunting. Kopecky says it came with an "OK, crap" moment of realizing the band was wide open for potential criticism.
"OK, we're going to compare this brand new cookie to an Oreo," she says with a laugh. "Oreos are tried and true, and you're going to bite into an Oreo and love it. And if you don't like Oreos, you have something wrong with you."
But Kopecky now says of the story, "I'm just smiling about it." And there's plenty of other buzz for the band's charming brand of pop-folk-rock, including raves from Paste and NPR. The band performs Tuesday at Grand Stafford Theater, after its stop at this weekend's Free Press Summer Festival in Houston. The band will share that festival's spotlight with such respected acts as Iggy and the Stooges, TV on the Radio, Alabama Shakes, The Postal Service, Social Distortion and Mavis Staples.
The band bloomed from a friendship between Kopecky and singer-guitarist Gabe Simon. They met in 2007 at a party at Belmont University in Nashville and were soon writing and playing songs. Four of their pals -- guitarist Steven Holmes, drummer David Krohn, cellist Markus Midkiff and bassist Corey Oxendine -- soon joined in.
As for the "Family" name, Kopecky says it came from Simon, who often joked that her last name "sounds like a Polish family band." Before their first full-fledged gig, they were asked for their band name.
"We were like, 'Well, The Kopecky Family Band, of course,'" she recalls. "It just kind of stuck."
The band released its first full-length album, Kids Having Kids, in April on ATO Records. (Check it out on Spotify and you can hear band members give insight to each song). Kopecky's vocals alternate with Simon's on many tracks, and they combine for strong effect on Wandering Eyes and The Glow. Little flourishes -- hand claps and finger snaps on the catchy single Heartbeat and whistling on the galloping track Are You Listening -- add to the pleasant pop appeal.
Kopecky calls the group "a touring band first and foremost," but says the members dedicated time to concentrate on Kids Having Kids.
"We took a couple months to specifically record these songs and not travel, which was amazing," she says. "We think the result was really good. We're really proud of it. It's exciting to have something complete to show and share with the world."
The reception has been positive, with the Times piece as the best example. Kopecky calls it "surreal," especially when she sees audiences sing along to the songs.
"They're so passionate about what we're doing," she says. "It's just like, 'Oh my gosh, we made these songs up in our house, and now they're in, like, Toronto, Canada, and people know them.' I'm just really honored and really blessed that I can do this for a living and pay my bills for the first time, doing a job with my best friends."
Kopecky speaks of her bandmates like family members -- "The whole family element really has come into play," she says -- and regards her audience in a similar manner. She lost her voice during the band's winter tour and says she couldn't even manage a squeak.
"We couldn't cancel the shows because we had sold-out shows in Philly and New York," she says. "I was like, 'Man, I really want to play this show.' Gabe just stepped up and was like, 'You're fine.' The songs I would lead by myself, I would just, like, mouth them, and the audience would help me sing. It was so surreal. We hold each other up when we have hard times."
DETAILS: Kopecky Family Band performs with Scientist and Evan P. Donohue, Tuesday at Grand Stafford Theater, 106 S. Main St., Bryan. Doors at 7 p.m. $8 and $10. grandstaffordtheater.com.
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