Steelecounty
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Steelecounty

Cambridge, Ontario, Canada

Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
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Nashville, Tennessee (September 23, 2008) – Steelecounty of Ontario, Canada took the state title and $1,000 at the 27th Annual Colgate Country Showdown Northern Wisconsin/Upper Michigan State Final. Lake of the Torches Resort Casino in Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin showcased eight acts who had won a local contest sponsored by radio stations throughout Wisconsin and Michigan, enabling each to perform at the state level competition of America’s largest country music talent search.

Representing radio station WLDY of Ladysmith, Wisconsin, Steele County, prevailed at Saturday’s state level event. Steelecounty describes themselves as a “Kick em up country band,” consisting of five dedicated songwriters/performers with tight vocal harmonies and instrumental versatility. The band features a group of men with deep roots in country music – Ryan (lead vocals, banjo & electric slide guitar) and Sterling Stead (vocals, fiddle, keyboards, saxophone & acoustic guitar), who have been on stage together for 10 years, Tom Graham (lead guitar, pedal steel); and brothers Kevin (drums, vocals) and Brandon Sommerville (bass guitar, vocals). Recently they won the 2008 “Ontario Country Music Showdown Talent Search,” appeared at the 19th annual “Havelock Country Jamboree” and performed for the 20,000+ audience. Steelecountry has also opened for Earl Scruggs & Family, Connie Smith and Mickey Gilley and closed the 2008 “Fergus Truck Show” after Aaron “hold my beer” Pritchett and Gord Bamford performed. While they spend time entertaining crowds, Steelecounty believes, “it’s all about the song.” Six songs written by Ryan and Sterling are currently featured in the motion picture “Tornado Warning,” which airs locally on City TV, Bravo and New VR as well as, the PAX network across the U.S. Steelecounty … Come & Get Some! Visit www.steelecountyband.com.

They won Saturday’s competition, with two original pieces – “Truck” and “This is My Life” – further displaying their talents. Other acts – listed with their sponsoring radio station – were Chris Hillier WQXO Trowbridge, MI; Jeff Jennings WPIQ Manistique, MI; Jason Laxo WKQS Marquette, MI; Melissa Moravits WIXK New Richmond, WI; Jerry Pero WATK Antigo, WI; Stephanie Schmidt WFXD Negaunee, MI and Meagan Urbis WRUP Gwinn, MI.

On October 25th Steele County will compete in the Midwest Regional at Royal River Casino & Hotel in Flandreau, South Dakota to determine if they will advance to the National Final. The five regional winners – from across the country – will receive an all expense-paid trip to the National Final to compete for $100,000 and the coveted national title of Best New Act in Country Music. The National Final will air nationwide, over syndicated television in March and April.

About the Showdown: Each spring, more than 50,000 artists compete in the Colgate-sponsored local competitions with 450 radio stations throughout the U.S. and over $300,000 in cash prizes are awarded throughout 500+ live competitions. Local winners then compete at the 48 state and five regional competitions throughout the summer and fall. The Colgate Country Showdown culminates with a national television final competition as the regional winners vie for $100,000 and the title of Best New Act in Country Music. The televised one-hour special has been hosted in the past by country music superstars such as Barbara Mandrell, Reba McEntire, Willie Nelson, etc. The competition boasts a "who's who" in the Country Music industry with past local and regional winners including Brad Paisley, Garth Brooks, Tim McGraw, Martina McBride, Billy Ray Cyrus, Sara Evans and Miranda Lambert. For more information, visit www.colgatecountryshowdown.com.

About Colgate: Colgate-Palmolive is a leading global consumer products company, tightly focused on Oral Care, Personal Care, Home Care and Pet Nutrition. Colgate sells its products in over 200 countries and territories around the world under such internationally recognized brand names as Colgate, Palmolive, Mennen, Softsoap, Irish Spring, Protex, Sorriso, Kolynos, Elmex, Ajax, Axion, Soupline, and Suavitel, as well as Hill's Science Diet and Hill's Prescription Diet pet foods. For more information about Colgate's global business, visit the Company's website at www.colgate.com.

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** Additional photos available upon request.

- Erin Burr – Colgate Country Showdown– 615.321.5130


Country music fans are the greatest. Just ask Sterling Stead, whose band Steelecounty has been received wholeheartedly by the cowboy hat-wearin', toe-stompin', line-dancin' crowds who've heard them play so far. "I believe strongly that there's nothing better than country music fans," he said. "They seem to embrace you for who you are." That was certainly no different at two recent performances that may just catapult Steelecounty to new heights. With barely enough time to recover and catch their breath from those recent opportunities, the six-man Steelecounty is now getting ready to take part in a major competition in Wisconsin. It seems they're on a roll. "I just feel blessed... I feel like things are opening up for us," Stead said. Steelecounty was formed two years ago by five musicians -- three from Milton -- who felt they could offer something unique to the country music scene. At its core were Sterling -- a former Campbellville resident -- and his son Ryan, a long-time Miltonian, who are no strangers to performing together. To say music is in their blood is putting it mildly. Ryan is a sixth-generation musician, with country music infused into the family. Although Ryan found himself playing in a rock band in high school, it wasn't his niche. "I realized it wasn't for me. Country is a lot more real to me. The words I'm singing are a lot more heartfelt," said Steelecounty's lead vocalist. Completing the band are Milton brothers Brandon and Kevin Sommerville, Tom Graham and newcomer Pete Allison. For the past couple of years, the group has been in the basement, honing their skills, writing songs and even learning new instruments. Now they're ready to show what they can do -- and they're well on their way. In the summer, Steelecounty entered a competition to play at the Havelock Country Jamboree, recognized as one of the top five country music festivals in Canada.
Competing against 20 other bands, Steelecounty won, despite some frazzled nerves and even a lack of confidence. "We knew we had a lot to offer, but not everyone sees things the way we do," Ryan said. Performing at the August 17 jamboree was a thrill, since it meant opening for the likes of country legends Connie Smith and Earl Scruggs. "For us, it was pretty incredible -- going from playing clubs to playing a massive show like that," Ryan said, adding he took his two sons along to the show, which had a definite family atmosphere. The second big event of the summer came about when they decided to enter the 27th annual Colgate Country Showdown in the U.S. The showdown begins with hundreds of local talent contests sponsored by radio stations. Steelecounty competed and won a local round in Wisconsin. Next weekend, they'll head back to Wisconsin for the state finals, which take place Saturday, Sept. 20. If they win that, it'll be on to the regional round and then the national competition. The band has quite a few of their own songs banked -- written mostly by Ryan and Sterling -- and this competition allows them to showcase their songwriting abilities. Something that sets the band apart from others is its versatility, Ryan said, with the six members playing about a dozen instruments between them in addition to singing. On top of being lead vocalist, Ryan plays banjo and slide guitar; Sterling is on the fiddle, piano, organ, saxophone and guitar; Brandon plays bass; Kevin is on the drums; Graham is lead guitarist and peddle steel; and Allison takes care of lead guitar and dobro. One of the reasons it's important to have a wide range of instruments at their disposal is to be able to perform a variety of styles, Ryan said, tailoring the sound to the venue they're at. While younger crowds at the clubs might prefer a more pop/rock-infused type of "new" country, festivals usually attract a slightly older crowd with a liking for the more traditional country sound, Ryan said. Looking forward, Ryan and Sterling both agree they hope to get signed to a record label before releasing a full-length album. How does Sterling feel about playing with his son once again? "It never gets old. I look over and see this man singing and I have to pinch myself to remind myself it's my son." He said he's glad he was able to pass along to Ryan what his parents gave to him. "The greatest gift my parents ever gave me was the gift of music." Stephanie Hounsell can be reached at sthiessen@miltoncanadianchampion.com. - Milton Canadian Champion - By Stephanie Hounsell


Havelock-Belmont-Methuen - Traditionalists Steelecounty topped a dazzling array of talent to take firstprize at the Ontario Country Showdown hosted by the Havelock Country Music Talent Show.
The win earned the Dundas group a coveted spot on the Havelock Country Jamboree's big-time stage. They headed an outstanding field of six finalists in a day-long program featuring 22 worthy performers.
Caledonia's soulful Ally Howatt was second with big-voiced youngster Neil Wadhavna third.
Steel County, Sterling Stead, son Ryan, brothers Kevin and Brandon Somerville and Tom Gray, filled the Havelock Community Centre with blended harmonies and rootsy rhythms winning over the four judges. The talent show appearance and gig on the Jamboree stage will "sharpen" their chops, says Sterling, who adds the strong fiddle sound the band.
"This is fantastic," he said. "We've spent two years in the basement going out once every six weeks. We've gradually exceeded our expectations."
The band has already won the first leg of the Coldgate Country Music Showdown in the United States, the largest talent search in the world, and sees itself getting stronger.
"We don't feel that we've come anywhere near our potential yet," Sterling says. "This is a work in progress. We're really just scratching the surface. I'm surprised how mature they're (his young band-mates) becoming, how intense they are on their instruments."
Sterling says Steel County has been trying to get to Havelock for a long time. They're friends of South Mountain who were also on the Jamboree's Sunday program.
"It's the mecca for traditional country music which we're very involved in," he says.
The band works hard on its fiddle, banjo, bass, pedal steel sound.
"We're building on the traditional instruments and going forward that way. We believe in the big harmonies sort of an Eagles, Dixie Chicks Doug and Slugs party thing. We need those solid harmonies. We want real songs that mean something but then with the fun and the instrumentation.
"Had we not won Sunday we're back at rehearsal," he quips.
His son Ryan is a tenth generation musician and he's played with school buddies Kevin and Brandon in alternative rock bands before. They've been together as Steel Country for two years.
"We all bring our own style and personality to the group," Ryan says. "I like to think that it blends well together with all the different influences we bring to the group."
Even with some alternative rock under his belt, Ryan says he "always loved country." He started playing with his dad and aunt, always with a "lot of harmony work."
There's lots of lead work from members of the band.
"It keeps the crowd interested so you're not just one voice. That's whey we took on the extra instruments," says Ryan. "We want to change up the sounds."
The "next move" is the recording studio. They've saved enough money to get the first two songs done then they'll go after "some serious money" to complete the recording.
"We want to get to the point where money is the only thing in the way," says Sterling. "The songs are getting written, the act is polished. We're really excited, to be honest. We'll wait and see."
"We do it because we love it," adds Ryan. "It's not overnight success by any stretch."
The Havelock show gave them a chance to see what other performers are doing.
"It's nice to see what others are up to and what stage their at," Ryan said.
And they weren't intimidated by the big Jamboree stage.
"We just finished the Fergus Truck Show and we were the surprise band (on just before Aaron Pritchett)," said Sterling.
"It just keeps getting better," says Gale Ellis, one of the show's organizers. "I'm at a loss for words."
The committee seems to steer its way around "curves" that get thrown in their way and the end result is a show that thrills.
"It makes it all worth it," Ellis said. "It doesn't matter how many hills we have to climb to see some great musicians step on stage and thrill the audience. We're giving people a chance to go to that big stage and maybe make a difference in their lives."
Even performers who don't win are continuing to make wonderful music, Ellis said.
And knowing that they are also helping groups like Five Counties Children's Centre, The Hospital for Sick Children and local youth adds to the satisfaction, she adds.
"They're winners. They're number one too."
"We do definitely need more volunteers. Volunteers are what makes shows like this go."


- The Shield EMC - By Bill Freeman


Discography

Steelecounty recently had their single "We Played The Devil" aired on WYKX 104.7 in Ecanaba MI, USA.

Ryan & Sterling Stead, also have both had songs placed in a movie which receives international play. "Tornado Warning"

Photos

Bio

A Kick em up* Country Band consisting of five dedicated songwriter/performers, featuring polished musical arrangements, “tight” vocal harmonies and instrumental versatility.

Steelecounty embodies five members featuring: Ryan Stead (songwriter, lead vocals, banjo, electric guitar, slide & acoustic)
Sterling Stead (songwriter, vocals, fiddle, keyboards, saxophone, & acoustic guitar)
Tom Graham (lead guitar, pedal steel) Kevin Sommerville (vocals, drums) &
Craig Nicholson (vocals, bass guitar)

Recent highlights include winning the Ontario Country Music Showdown Talent Search.
(Finishing first place, competing against 20 acts from across Ontario)

An appearance at the 19th annual Havelock Country Jamboree.
(Performed for over 20 thousand country fans)
Steelecounty opened for Earl Scruggs and Family, Connie Smith, and Mickey Gilley.

An appearance at the 2008 Fergus Truck Show (closing the show for Aaron “hold my beer” Pritchett and Gord Bamford).

State Champions of the “Colgate Country Showdown 2009” The largest talent search contest in the world.

May 2009 - Single "We Played The Devil" aired on radio WYKX 104.7 in Escanaba MI.

An appearance at the 2009 Fergus Truck Show opening for Terri Clark & Adam Gregory.

Regional finalists placing in the top 40 of 55,000 acts in the "Colgate Country Showdown" from across the U.S.