Weber State University students looking for a free night of entertainment found it Thursday night at the Ogden Amphitheater as the Nashville Tribute Band, a country-themed group, performed live in concert.
The Nashville Tribute Band, or NTB, has been around since 2005 and is made up of nine members. Leaning heavily on their collective roots in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the band frequently bases their performances and albums on religious themes. Their first album, Joseph: A Nashville Tribute to the Prophet, is composed of song tributes to the first Mormon prophet, Joseph Smith, and became one of the best-selling LDS albums ever.
“I wrote two or three (songs),” said NTB founding member Jason Deere about the first album, “and then called Dan Truman, of the country supergroup Diamond Rio. I went to his house and played him the songs. We knew we had to do something. We had no idea what the world would think of redneck Mormon songs, but we knew that we had to make an album — for us, if for no one else.”
The group has had two albums since then, the first of which deals with the themes of the Mormon pioneers who crossed the plains to Utah, and its most recent, The Work: A Nashville Tribute to the Missionaries, was released on Aug. 4 and forms much of its performance material for this concert tour.
There are nine members of NTB, three of whom actually belong to a separate trio called Due West that collaborates with the bigger ensemble. Though the trio has worked with groups like Lady Antebellum, Blackhawk, Lorrie Morgan and Tracy Lawrence, they said they love coming back to play with NTB.
“It’s kind of a breath of fresh air,” said Tim Gates of Due West.
NTB also features Dan Truman, former keyboardist for the famous country band Diamond Rio; Ron Saltmarsh, a multiple Emmy Award nominee who scored shows like Good Morning America, The Rosie O’Donnell Show and Entertainment Tonight, and Katherine Nelson, locally famous for playing Emma Smith, Joseph Smith’s wife, in the film Emma Smith: My Story. NTB’s current album features all nine members, with additional help from a few other famous Mormon recording artists, such as country star Billy Dean and pop group The Jets.
Opening the event was a local band from Highland, Utah, called Dyer Highway. Consisting of a trio of siblings, the family grew up in Delta, Utah. Their group now has its own albums available as well.
“By the time you’re three to four songs in, the people listening are in a completely different place than when they came,” said Tel, the trio’s only male and guitarist. Tiann and Mady played the fiddle and mandolin respectively.
Students interested in learning more about these groups can go to Nashvilletributeband.com or Dyerhighway.com. Both groups, including Due West, perform frequently around the Wasatch Front.