Three musical paths — and maybe a chicken or two — intersect in the Limestone County-based classic rock band, Free Range.
Billy Smith, Jeremy Drawbaugh and Seth Facundo are living the “free range life,” a phrase coined by their fans.
“The first time I performed on stage was at a music festival,” Smith said, “I got up there and knew it was where I was supposed to be. I am more myself on stage than anywhere else.”
Smith has been making music since middle school and credits East Limestone band teacher Jennifer Janzen with teaching him everything he knows.
“I played xylophone in the band, and when I started to learn guitar chords I figured out the guitar is laid out exactly like the xylophone and so is the piano,” he said. “That’s when I found the freedom to play free-style riffs and write music — the music opened up for me.”
Seth Facundo, the band’s bass player, found his musical path as part of the audience. “When I was growing up, my mom would take me to shows,” he said. “Sometimes the shows were just OK, but there were times when the band connected with the audience on a much deeper level and I knew that I needed to be part of creating that experience.”
Drummer Drawbaugh grew up listening to his father’s and grandfather’s bands. He sat behind his first drum set at age 2.
“My mom’s dad could play anything with strings,” he said. “He had seven kids and his rule was you couldn’t move out of the house until you learned to play an instrument.”
While Free Range is primarily a cover band, they also write their own music.
“In marching band, I learned how to take different songs and mix them together,” Smith said. “Writing original music is a lot like that.”
Drawbaugh compared writing music to completing a puzzle because a songwriter has to decide what music and words fit together.
“Playing your own music can take you anywhere,” he said.
When not on stage, the band can be found practicing in Smith’s barn.
“The name Free Range is mostly about the wide variety of music we wanted to play, but there were a few chickens there for inspiration,” Smith said.
The band will perform Friday, April 14, at the Limestone Music Festival at the Limestone County Event Center. The festival is sponsored by Andrew Kirk with Modern Woodmen of American and Chick-fil-A of Athens.
The show begins at 7 p.m. and tickets are $10. Proceeds benefit the East Limestone High School band and County for a Cure, Limestone County's Relay for Life team.
Tickets can be purchased from any East Limestone High School band student, from Chick-fil-A of Athens, Village Pizza on East Limestone Road or at www.eventbrite.com.