Every year in August, the quaint town of Challis, Idaho plays host to thousands of visitors from around the country and the globe for the annual Braun Brothers Reunion Festival. A family-friendly event for the music enthusiast, the BBR brings both well-loved and up and coming artists together with their fans in a picturesque setting for three unforgettable days. This year, the BBR will be held from August 10th-12th and will feature fourteen plus artists, including rising Texas-based band Blue Water Highway whose frontman Zack Kibodeaux very kindly took the time to talk about the festival, their current single, and more.
In college you were preparing for a career in opera, so what occurred that made you change paths towards writing and ultimately founding Blue Water Highway?
As a child, I took voice lessons and performed with the All-State Choir [in Texas] which led me to college where I was gearing up for a career in opera. At college, I started writing songs, which was like my secret side project. Now and then, I would show my opera friends what I had written, and they always responded positively. So, I had this kind of push and pull inside me between my love of writing, playing, and performing and opera – and eventually, the love for performing my music in a band context won out. After graduation, I changed direction and Catherine, who studied opera alongside me and felt the same way, came along…..and the rest is history.
Joining Zack to complete Blue Water Highway were Greg Essington (multi-instrumentalist), Catherine Clark (harmony vocals), Kyle James Smith (bass) and Zach Landreneau (keyboards, lap steel, guitar, accordion, and more). The band released a self-titled, six-song, EP in 2013 and followed that up with the full-length LP 'Things We Carry' in 2015.
You recently came off the road from a run of dates with Reckless Kelly, and in August you will be joining them in August for the BBR. How did that come about?
We played a show with them, and after they saw us, they invited us to the BBR and to go out on tour with them. There are times when you tour with people and you don’t hit it off, but the Reckless guys are super cool. We had the opportunity to hang out and get to know them; and they treated us very kindly. I’m a super huge fan of theirs, and they were a big influence on me when I started writing, so being able to tour with them, and spend time with them was really a meaningful experience. We’re very fortunate and I think, I hope, the tour helped reinforce the fact that they hadn’t made a bad decision (laughing). We had a great time being on the road with them and are so excited about heading out to play the BBR.
Blue Water Highway is kicking the whole thing off on Thursday, the first day of the festival, which must be exciting! Will you stay the remainder of the days?
We planned a West Coast tour around the trip, so we’ll be hitting Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and a lot of other places, but if we can stay and hang out we will definitely make that happen. I’ve never been to Idaho, but I’ve seen pictures and am just really excited to be a part of it and to be able to share our music with the people traveling to Idaho.
Is there anyone you don’t know or have never seen and are looking forward to seeing perform?
I’m a big fan of Lee Ann Womack and, of course, I'm excited to see Reckless play again. I love the Old 97’s too. I’ve never seen them live, so that’s going to be awesome! The lineup is just incredibly cool.
It’s a great lineup.
Recently you guys released a new single, “Evangeline,” and it’s stunning.
“Evangeline” is a prayer of sorts. It’s one of the songs I wrote when I was secretly songwriting during the time I was studying opera. I went to one of the opera practice rooms, sat at the piano, and the song came out in probably under half an hour. There’s nothing specific, no detailed story, to it except for the fact that I was in a down place and trying to reach out to something. It’s what I was feeling inside which I think is part of the reason it resonates so well with people.
With the diverse musical backgrounds our band has, we can look at a song and can see it in many different ways – what I like to call the coats of a song. We’d been playing “Evangeline” for so long and had many different versions of it, but we didn’t have the one we were super satisfied with. We always felt like we were grasping at something, but hadn’t gotten the magic one. When we went to record it, it wasn’t necessarily our intention to make a different version, but I feel like the way it came out was the most honest, best coat for the song to wear. Honestly, we never intended to release it as a single, but we knew that it was the version we wanted forever. It couldn’t have turned out any better than the way it did. The song got a new life, which is awesome.
It's incredibly beautiful.
The band’s latest album, 'Things We Carry,' was released in 2015, so what’s ahead?
The past three to four months have been a whirlwind for us. We wrapped a new record right before our tour with Reckless, so it’s coming, but we don’t have a release date yet. We made the album while our daughter was just a newborn, so there were a lot of sleepless nights - but the record doesn’t sound that way (laughing)! Luckily my wife is the best human on the planet and she figured out ways to make it all work. We love how it turned out and are so excited about sharing it. It’s by far the coolest thing we’ve ever done.
For all of the information on the BBR from lodging to the full lineup please visit the official website HERE
Tickets: BBR 3-Day Pass for ages 13 and up $124.30
BBR 2-Day Pass for ages 13 and up $86.30
Tickets purchased online will be picked up at will call at the venue and are non-refundable. One day passes will be sold at the front gate while supplies last. The BBR is held rain or shine.
Kids age 5 and under are free. Kids age 6-12 are $15 a day and can only be purchased at the front gate. Kids age 13 and up pay full adult price.
To stay up to date with Blue Water Highway visit their official website
Find them on Facebook and Twitter
Watch "Evangeline" HERE