Jim and Joe Rice have been running a Camarillo-based construction business for over 20 years, but the brothers have built more than houses.
Their contemporary-flavored country group, Brush Arbor, has built a solid reputation in the secular and Christian country music markets with seven major-label albums, awards from the Academy of Country Music and Music City News, and a recent appearance on TNN's nationally televised program, "Music City Tonight." Two singles from their new album on Benson records have been No. 1 on the Christian country radio charts.
On Saturday, Brush Arbor brings its acoustic/electric country sound to the Oxnard Civic Auditorium for a family-oriented concert. It will be the band's first local appearance since they sold out the same venue two years ago. If you like your Alabama-style music served up with a Gospel/Christian twist, Brush Arbor is for you, but advance ticket purchase is recommended.
Standout tunes from their new album include "I'm Never Givin' Up," Jim Rice's feel-good bluegrass tune featuring hot pickin' and soaring vocal harmonies; "Doing What We Said We'd Do," a lovely tribute to going the marital distance, and chart-toppers "Swingin' Bridge" and "I Wouldn't Miss Heaven."
But creating hot dance mixes is not this group's main intent.
"In a radio format, when you're cutting a secular country song, you're definitely looking for a dance tune," said Joe Rice. "But I think we have far more leeway in this genre to express more serious thoughts.
"But (the concert) is a night of entertainment and encouragement. We're just not the type of band that's going to pass out the pledge cards."
Joining Jim Rice (lead vocals, banjo, acoustic guitar) and Joe Rice (mandolin, rhythm guitar) are Kevin Watkins (drums), Brad Carr (electric lead guitar), county residents Gordon Jenewein (piano and keyboards) and Steve Wilkinson (bass).
The country-western theme at Cal Lutheran's 30th homecoming dance last fall was such a hit that students put on a "Lu Down" dance recently. Sue Saunders shared her line dance expertise with the campus community. Judging from the response, country music has some new "True Believers." Another country-western dance is planned for the fall to welcome freshmen.
* WHAT: Christian Country Music Concert.
* WHO: Brush Arbor.
* WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
* WHERE: Oxnard Civic Auditorium, 800 Hobson Way, Oxnard.
* HOW MUCH: $10.
* CALL: 644-1821.
* FYI: Seating on first-come basis; doors open at 6:45 p.m.