In one year, the country upstarts behind the Luke Preston Band went from jamming in their freshman dorms to recording their first EP and playing a major country festival in Kansas last June.
Band members Luke Preston, Jeremy Gold, Jared Chapman and Luke Enyeart started together when Enyeart and Preston were both guitar-playing freshman roommates. They knew Chapman played bass and had heard Gold playing drums down the hall, so they invited them both to play. After several jam sessions, they became the Luke Preston Band.
“We had a session for some student project and they needed a band to record a song,” Preston said. “We agreed to do that. That’s when we put the pieces of the band together for the first time. We organically developed from then on out.”
In June 2012, the group won a radio station contest against nine other bands for a shot to play on the main stage of the Country Stampede, an annual country festival in Manhattan, Kan. The band was able to play on the same stage as Toby Keith, The Band Perry, and Zac Brown Band.
Through an online vote, the group qualified for the festival’s final head-to-head competition and flew to Kansas for a head to head competition with the other finalist, Mark Brownlee, Jr. The band won the vote from the festival’s judges and was able to play at Country Stampede’s four-day festival.
The festival was a “big thing for the band,” said Preston.
The band flew to Kansas a night before they played and was able to see the Zac Brown Band play.
“What blew my mind was, watching [the Zac Brown Band] and seeing the size of the stage and looking at the jumbotrons, it hit me,” Enyeart said. “We are going to be up there tomorrow.”
The next day, the group opened the main stage. Even as the first act on a Saturday afternoon, Preston said there was a sea of people listening to them. After they performed, they were escorted by security to a merchandise tent to sign autographs for an hour.
“It was bizarre,” said Chapman.
Preston said his favorite compliment after the show was from one of the festival’s sign language interpreters.
“She told us she appreciated how she could hear every single word and loved the songwriting itself, and complimented how we are a talented group of people,” Preston said.
Preston said the band has upped their stage presence compared to their first show at Bongo Java last November.
“There was just a big energy difference being on the big stage,” Chapman said. “There was a lot more excitement on the stage just because if you look out into a crowd and you are on a stage that’s 5-6 feet above the ground. Camera guys on us, jumbotrons above us, and [we received] so much attention [at the Country Stampede] by playing with a huge crowd. It was a lot of fun.”
Before their show in Kansas, Luke Preston Band released their first EP, “When You’re Lost,” in April.
“I’ve been writing a lot since we put out our EP and in the process of recording we were writing stuff,” Preston said. “I think we want to record an album in the next month here. So we have a good selection of songs to choose for that.”
Now, the Luke Preston Band plans to “perfect everyone’s parts before tracking,” set up an acoustics demo and possibly add a new guitar player, said Preston. Their next shows are at The Attic on Sept. 7 and The Benchmark on Sept. 28.
“I think we are in a good place right now,” Preston said. “I’m happy we were able to play at the festival and it made people take us seriously. But, we don’t feel as if we made it by any means. I think all of us just need to work 10 times harder now that we’ve gotten somewhere, we want to go to several more places than that.”