Stipe_Brothers_1_2015By Jonathan Rich

The What: The Stipe Brothers with Dan Ruiz, Kent Rector, and Jeff Hinkle will open Hendersonville’s Rhythm and Brews at 6 p.m. on July 16, with acoustic super-group Mountain Heart headlining. Singer-songwriters Carver & Carmody get everything started at 5 p.m.

The When: Thursday, July 16, 6 p.m.

The Where: Downtown Hendersonville, Azalea parking lot adjacent to King Street between 3rd and 4th Avenues

The Cost: Free

The Links: Facebook event

Hendersonville’s Derek and Kevin Stipe aren’t taking the stage at the July edition of the summer hometown hootenanny Rhythm and Brews to live out their rock star fantasies; they just want to have some fun.

“Honestly, we’re just a cover band, but we have no pretense or agenda,” said lead vocalist Derek, who works as a graphic designer. “I think that’s been the appeal for me all along. Rather than go for a big ‘look at us rock this’ kind of performance, we’ve always felt like we’re leading a big group sing-a-long. We don’t over-rehearse and that makes the songs fresh and fun. We have a talented group that can afford a bit of spontaneity and random requests.”

His brother Kevin, who in addition to playing bass in the band is an accomplished web designer, agrees. “I would describe what we play as ‘guilty pleasure cover songs,’” Kevin said. “We tend not to shy away from a cover so long as we think it’s something the crowd would enjoy with us. That could be a semi-complex classic or a current pop hit.”

It’s not that the Stipe Brothers have never chased aspirations of making a living out of music. In the early 2000s, they were in the acclaimed alternative Christian band Monday Morning (known for their 2005 hit “Wonder of It All”), but after that ran its course they focused on their respective careers yet still felt the need to make music together.

“After Kev and I stopped touring with our previous band we took a break and then decided it’d be fun to do something low key every now and then just to scratch the performance itch,” Derek explained. “We’d take songs and re-interpret them musically in a simple way, stripped down with just an acoustic and a djembe. We started with just two of us, and were surprised that people really enjoyed it. In fact, we thought calling it The Stipe Brothers was intentionally lazy. As time went on, we included friends on songs and shows and we had larger crowds and more fun. Some of the guests stuck, including our old drummer Kent Rector, our good friend Dan Ruiz (who has been around the longest and shares some lead vocalist responsibilities), and the incredibly talented Jeff Hinkle.”

Even though the focus is on having fun, maturity has crept into the act.

“Kevin and I, like most siblings who would ‘work together’ have our fair share of disagreements,” Derek admitted. “Now in our 30s we’ve seen a lot of ups and downs as brothers, but the thing I’ve realized about our relationship over nearly two decades of playing music together is we perfectly complement each other’s skill set. A show isn’t the same if one of us isn’t there and we can read each other and kind of feel where the other is going musically.Stipe_Brothers_2_2015

“If there is any sibling rivalry, its petty rivalry and we can channel it into something comedic during a performance,” said Kevin. “Honestly, I feel very fortunate to have a brother that lives in the same town and that I get along well with.”

Having already played many of Hendersonville’s coffee houses, bars, and breweries, the Stipe Brothers (and friends) are excited to open for headlining act Mountain Heart and play before a local crowd at Rhythm and Brews this Thursday.

“They have a great sound, obviously more of a country flair than our song selection, but I appreciate great music from nearly any genre,” Derek said. “I think if anything we’ll hope to have everyone a little warmed up and ready to really have a great time through their set. Rhythm and Brews is a great event. I think it’s fantastic for the city of Hendersonville and so happy to see it continuing and growing year after year. I love how they’ve showcased local talent as well as brought in some regional acts to round it out. For us as a band, I only hope to have a great night, singing some fun songs with a fantastic community. If I’m lucky, they’ll sing so loud they’ll drown me out.”

“Put simply, I just enjoy having a great time with our community and I want to see people dancing,” added Kevin.

Downtown Hendersonville’s free Rhythm and Brews series takes place in the Azalea parking lot adjacent to King Street between 3rd and 4th Avenues on the third Thursday of each month. Entertainment begins at 5 pm with a singer-songwriter showcase, followed by an opening act at 6 pm and a headlining act at 7 p.m.

Jonathan Rich writes about entertainment for Ashvegas.com.

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