Goin' Country

Young Country takes stage for
Main Street’s ‘Music in the Park’

By Levi King
Staff Writer

(August 2005) – Fans of Young Country will notice one major difference when the band performs at the Madison Main Street Program’s Music in the Park concert this month – founding member Ronnie Dunlap left the band last year.
Bobby Robbins and Dunlap started the band in Bedford, Ky., 15 years ago when Robbins returned from the U.S. Navy. “We’re still good buddies,” Robbins said. “After years of this, Ronnie wanted to spend more time with his family on weekends.”
The band decided not to replace Dunlap, who played rhythm guitar. The lineup now includes Robbins on vocals and rhythm guitar, Kerry Mefford of Carrollton, Ky., on drums, Scott Caudill of Hanover, Ind., on bass and vocals, and Tom Steveley of Madison, Ind., on lead guitar.
“Without Robbie, I’ve had to focus on my guitar a little more. I have to put on more of a show,” said Robbins.
Shortly before Dunlap’s departure, Young Country released its first CD, “Tailgate Boogie.” The album, which was recorded at Crooked Creek in Madison and mastered by Ronnie Light of Nashville, Tenn., sold out at the band’s performances. The disc was the band’s first full length recording, but the single “Daddy was a Pistol” was a hit with regional fans and radio stations some years before.
“We’re gathering material for our next CD; we have one every 15 years,” said Steveley, laughing. Steveley joined the band six years ago at Mefford’s urging. Following high school, Steveley and Mefford played together in the late 1980s in a Cincinnati-based rock band called Major Minor. Steveley left the band to join Karma Dogs, a Louisville rock band. Steveley and Karma Dogs moved to Los Angeles in the 1990s, and he returned in 1996.
“That’s when Kerry dragged me into this,” said Steveley.
In spite of his rock credentials, Steveley has fit well with the country band. “When I was growing up around here, guitar players had to be versatile to get gigs,” he said. “I don’t play that much differently now than I did in other bands.”
Robbins doesn’t think the different musical influences of his bandmates has altered the direction of Young Country. “They all three come from a rock background,” he said, laughing. “We work well together. There’s a lot of drive in our music – it’s not beat you down, crying in your beer kind of music. It’s got more energy than that.”
Mefford joined Young Country 11 years ago, and Caudill followed a year later. In addition to area festivals, the group regularly performs at Belterra Casino Resort & Spa and Louisville clubs Coyote’s and the Village Pub. They have opened for a nearly endless list of country greats, including Marty Stewart, Martina McBride, Tracy Lawrence, Aaron Tippin, Sammy Kershaw, Toby Keith, Ty Herndon, Joe Diffie and Confederate Railroad.
Robbins said Dunlap’s departure forced him to reconsider the band. “The first time I went out on stage without him, it felt strange. Quitting crossed my mind, but after a couple of sets, we were fine,” he said. “People still enjoy it.”
The changes gave Robbins a chance to explore his own musical horizons. He just finished writing material for a new solo acoustic album, which he plans to record this month. He’s also scheduled dates to perform with Steveley as a duo.

• Young Country will perform at the Music in the Park series finale at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 12, at the Broadway Fountain. They also are scheduled to perform at 7 p.m. on Aug. 19 at the Bedford Bash in Bedford, Ky. Both concerts are free.

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