The Chapmans Biography


The Chapmans photo courtesy of Compass Records.

The Chapmans, brothers Jason, Jeremy, and John, and dad Bill, are a first generation bluegrass bloodline. Grown Up, their Compass Records debut, is "dominated by ballads, bittersweet tales of lost love and stories of murder, with guitarist John’s reedy tenor providing the plaintive lead vocal amid soaring harmonies," says journalist Don McLeese. "Like so many within the emerging generation of bluegrass artists, The Chapmans sidestep the show-off strain of technical virtuosity as they employ instrumental arrangements that enhance the song rather than overpower it." Grown Up features a stellar special guest line-up including Rhonda Vincent (harmony vocals), Stuart Duncan (fiddle), Noam Pikelny (banjo), and Rob Ickes (dobro). Continuing to grow their fan base by including contemporary bluegrass, Americana, and acoustic country in their repertoire, Grown Up should find a welcoming audience for its fine blend of the old and new.

Originally from Colorado and now based in Springfield, MO, The Chapmans, albeit a young band, have been touring for more than two decades. Previous recipients of SPGMA’s International Bluegrass Band Championship title and Guitar Player of the Year (John), they have also been nominated for SPGMA awards in the categories of Album of the Year and Vocal Group of the Year. They have also previously garnered an IBMA nomination for Emerging Artist of the Year. Having played thousands of shows, The Chapmans have evolved into a band with a great artistic formula which reaches any size and aged audience, crossing several genres of music.

About Grown Up from The Chapmans:

When it occurred to us that 2009 would be the twentieth year for The Chapmans as a band, we wanted to mark the occasion with a new CD. The idea of a twenty-year retrospective was an obvious choice, but we wanted to go beyond the average "collection" CD where we would just select a few tracks from previous releases; add one or two new tracks and be done with it. So we came up with the "New and Improved" retrospective. We selected tracks that we had recorded throughout the previous twenty years, but rather than just re-release those recordings, we thought we would see if we had learned anything in the last twenty years that would make those songs sound better. We wanted to make a CD using those old songs but to a first time listener, sound like a new release. Most retrospectives are just that, a look back on where a band used to be, not so much representing where they are now. We aimed for a retrospective that did both.

It turned out to be more challenging than we had initially anticipated. For one thing, where we had gone through hundreds of song demos for the last CD, this project included only about 25 songs to pick from. Then there was the difficulty of trying to come up with arrangements, solos, and ideas that were different from the original recordings (with the old versions still playing in our heads) that would make them better. Lastly, being a personal milestone project we wanted the music to be our own, devoid of outside influence. We decided to produce the project ourselves, which lead to a lot of disorganization and heated debates over harmony lines and late night pizza toppings.

For all of the difficulty though, we were rewarded with a totally unique and organic recording experience. We tracked the CD in our own studio in Ozark, MO, without time constraints; allowing many of the songs to be arranged as they were recorded and others to be recorded, listened to, scrapped, re-recorded, changed, and re-recorded again to arrive at the final versions. For the first time we could play out an idea that came to us in the studio without fear of the record label breathing down our necks. Some songs came quick and easy, while others took months to feel right. Some days we started early (noon). Some days we stopped late (4am). Even the CD artwork, photo editing, and design was done in-house. We wanted this project to really represent The Chapmans in our 20th year, while looking back on where we started.

So clear your lunch trays and meet us by the monkey bars for some "Revisionist History" from The Chapmans!