Steve Brown and the Bailers
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Steve Brown and the Bailers

Band Folk Acoustic


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"Group brings a 'fine blend' of local folk to UAF Pub"

FAIRBANKS — One member grew up playing piano and ended up jamming on a guitar. Another sang harmonies with her mother while riding in the car during her childhood and learned to play guitar as an adult. The third learned music from his father and grew up playing rock music on an electric bass and now is a fan of folk music.

The varied musical paths these three artists have taken eventually brought them together as a team: They are Steve Brown and the Bailers.

“We’ve only been together for a little over a year, but it seems like so much longer,” the band’s namesake, Steve Brown, said of the group that formed, as bands tend to do, from a shared joy of jamming.

To tell the story of how the band came to be, Brown flashed back 10 years to when he came to Fairbanks for the summer to work with his brother, who lived in the area. By the end of the summer he was a landowner and was making plans for a life in Alaska.

“It was one of those things, typical story: I came up at age 19 thinking it was for one summer and ended up buying land and coming up when I could and eventually built a cabin on the property,” the Oregon City native said.

Making friends here and there during his visits north, Brown had a string of acquaintances by the time he moved up for good, and those friends convinced him a few years ago to enter a songwriting contest held at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Brown was a winner and got the chance to perform at the UAF Davis Concert Hall and through the experience met a number of talented musicians. One of them was Robin Feinman.

“We started playing together and it was Robin who really convinced me to start singing. Before, I relied more heavily on my guitar playing,” Brown said.

Feinman, who sang with her mother as a child, learned guitar as an adult and learned to combine the two talents, along with her interest in folk music. Feinman and Brown played together, and with other musicians in the area, and eventually caught up with Todd Denick, the bass player.

Playing with the two folk musicians had a strong influence on the former rocker’s style and outlook, Brown said.

“When we first met Todd he had an electric bass and I was looking for a side project to play some electric,” Brown recalled. “We decided to go to his house and play some rock and roll, but within three months we started getting him to play folk music and he decided to invest in an upright bass.”

Joking that he and Feinman set out to “bluegrass (Denick) up a bit,” the three combined their talents and interests, forming the Bailers just over one year ago. Now with a year’s worth of local performing under their belt, Brown said one of the things the group is most proud of is the supply of original music they’ve built up.

“I would say about three quarters of our stuff is original. We’ve written some really great stuff,” he said.

A high school English teacher by day — he teaches at Lathrop High School — Brown said performing in Fairbanks is a thrill, and living in this area led to an exciting opportunity this summer when the band he lists as one of his strongest musical influences — Wilco — performed at the Blue Loon.

“I had seen them in Portland years ago and when I heard they were coming up here I was so excited,” he recalled.

But after the show, which he still chatters fondly about, noting the two encores the group offered, his excitement grew to an almost unbearable level. One of Brown’s friends had by chance ran into the Wilco band members at Creamer’s Field earlier that day. Unaware the new acquaintances were members of a famous rock band, the friend started chatting and learned one of them — bass player John Stirratt — was in need of a babysitter for the evening. The friend helped him out, and scored a pair of back stage passes.

“When he told me that at the end of the show I couldn’t believe it. So we got to go back and hang out with these guys and it was so amazing, but I couldn’t even make conversation I was so star struck,” Brown said, calling the experience “out of this world.”

Despite having crossed “Meeting My Idols” off his musical To Do list, Brown still has some goals in mind. Hoping to continue writing and performing good music, he and his Bailers will take it one show at a time, the next being tonight at the UAF Pub. He also noted the group’s inclusion on a CD released by KUAC, “Alaska Live Volume I,” which features a number of local artists. That recording, like many of their performances, adds the talent of other area artists to the music of the Bailers.

“We’ve been playing a lot lately with a really talented drummer Kliff Hopson (of Gangly Moose) and that changes our sound a whole bunch,” Brown said. “He is an incredible drummer, and to play with such a talented musician pushes us to play that much better.”

Other artists that commonly add to the Bailers’ sound include Leah Probst on fiddle, Matt Johnson on mandolin, Phil Cassel on bass and mandolin and Eric Graves on dobro. With or without these guest artists, Brown said the group sticks strongly to it’s musical motto: Playing “a fine blend of Fairbanks folk.”

What: Steve Brown and the Bailers

When: 9 p.m. tonight

Where: UAF Pub

Admission: Free

Contact Features Editor Erica Goff at 459-7523.

- Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

"Steve Brown and the Bailers"

Check out our interview from May 2009 on Fresh Music Express's website. Go to then click on interviews. - Fresh Music Express


We are currently in the studio finishing up our latest set of original folkabilly tunes. It should be completed by May 2009. Over the last two years we have sold hundreds of copies of our two studio demos and our live demo recorded from festivals around Alaska. Our song "Just A Little Luck" receives weekly airplay on various programs at 89.9 KUAC FM.



We come from different parts of the US, but we consider ourselves Alaskans. We met over the last few years and quickly came up with an enjoyable blend of music including tunes inspired by the likes of Tom Petty, Wilco, Norah Jones and Hayes Carll! Our singer/songwriter blend of folk, bluegrass and rock makes our music popular with folks looking to dance a bit or those who just want to sit back, relax, and enjoy the music.