Chancey Williams and the Younger Brothers Band, The honky tonk road of success
Chancey Williams and Travis DeWitt started the Younger Brothers Band in November 1998 in Moorcroft. Eleven years later the band is booked solid, playing across the region, working on their third album and enjoying the success of their first video.
“It use to be that we had to call people trying to get booked and now I probably have to turn down more gigs than we actually play because we get so many calls, which is good. We like it that way because we are able to pick and choose and play at some really fun places,” says lead vocalist Chancey Williams.
Drummer Travis DeWitt adds that last year the band played about 130 shows and is even busier this year. “We’re on the road either coming from or going to a gig four days a week, so it will easily be over 200 days this year.”
Additional band members include fiddle player Brooke Latka from Casper and base guitarist Dugan Hughes from Sundance. Lead guitarist Wyatt Springsteen is from Saratoga. Williams adds that for some of the band’s bigger shows Sarah Davison of Nashville joins the band on keyboards.
The band primarily manages itself and in the last year has played across Wyoming, with some shows in Las Vegas, Nev. and a growing number at the Grizzly Rose in Denver, Colo.
“In the last year we’ve played with Lady Antebellum, Craig Morgan, Phil Vassar, Miranda Lambert, Reckless Kelly and Cross Canadian Ragweed at the Grizzly Rose. We opened for all of them and it’s been a great place for us to get our foot in the door and play for a bigger audience outside Wyoming,” says DeWitt. “People down there are starting to know us better and we have fans that are traveling farther to see us. It’s nice to see people from Denver who say they just came to watch us play. It’s a really good feeling to know we are getting more of a following in Colorado.”
Williams seconds that the bands fan base has really grown in the past year and adds that this year is looking even better. “The summer’s going to be big. We will be at the beer tent at Cheyenne Frontier Days again and at the Colorado and Wyoming state fairs. We also have the Central States Fair, Sheridan-WYO days and the Legend of Rawhide in Lusk. They’ve been calling us for the last three or four years to play and it’s always the same weekend as Sheridan, but this year Sheridan moved their date so we are able to play both and are looking forward to that,” comments Williams.
The band is also excited to play in Kaycee for the unveiling of the Chris LeDoux bronze. “It will be really cool because Western Underground is doing a concert during the day, then we’re playing the street dance Saturday night,” says Williams.
In addition to live shows, Williams and the band hope to have a third album out by the middle or end of the summer. “All of us are involved in the song writing process. We get some from songwriters out of Nashville and we write some ourselves. Travis, Wyatt, myself and some other friends just sit down and see what we can come up with,” explains Williams. “It takes a lot of songs to get 10 good ones. Song selection is the biggest thing for an album. It doesn’t matter if you’re the best singer or player in the world, if you don’t have good songs nobody will listen. For my ‘Honky Tonk Road’ album I spent several months selecting songs. It’s a long process, but once we get them all done it won’t take long for the album to come out.”
The band also just released their first video, which was produced by William’s cousin. “It was an awesome experience and it turned out better than we expected,” says Williams.
“We had no idea what to think going in and when we saw it all put together and what Chancey’s cousin did, it showed us things from another point of view. We always see things from the stage and being able to see it like that was eye opening. It turned out really well and we’re really proud of it. Hopefully it’s another way we can get someone to notice us,” adds DeWitt.
Williams and the band have received some looks from Nashville and are hopeful it will lead to something in the near future. “Nothing’s for sure yet and it’s such a long process that if we did get a record deal it would probably still be a couple years before a record came out. But the fact that they’re starting to look at us now versus not even knowing who we were a couple years ago or even last year is pretty exciting,” says Williams.
Toby Keith’s management company, TKO artist management, is one group looking at Chancey and the Younger Brothers. Williams worked for Toby in Nashville, learning the music business.
“It’s a whole different thing than playing live, and the business side is very complicated. It’s basically who you know, so I put my time in to learn that end of it. It worked out really well and I learned a lot from Toby and his company and how everything works. It got my foot in the door and his booking agent books us in Vegas now. It really paid off,” says Williams.
Both Williams and DeWitt say they love being on the road and plan to continue playing live, knowing it will lead to more opportunities.
“This is the time to be on the road, when we’re young. We’re all at the point in our lives where everybody is ready to hit it hard with nothing holding them back,” says Williams.
DeWitt adds that they are keeping their fingers crossed that somebody takes notice of the band while they continue doing what they love.
“For the entire 11 years we’ve been doing this we’ve always taken it to the next level. We are always booking bigger and better shows every year as compared to just playing at the same bar scenes. That can make you pretty stagnant and we try to avoid that,” says Williams.
“Some people just get on stage and sing. That’s not good enough for us; we put on a show for people. We want them to come out and see us,” adds DeWitt.
With packed houses and over the 3,000 views of their video on YouTube, the band’s approach is being well received by fans. Some potential songs for the next album are gaining popularity and another video is in the works. This busy group that has been popular throughout Wyoming for years is gaining momentum as they continue their trend of bigger and better things.