Local boys The Brewer Boys dream BIG

Published on March 25th, 2021

By Jim Dail

Every year, Temecula holds the Temecula Bluegrass festival, which draws scores of people to hear the old-time music. However, many do not realize that bluegrass in the area goes beyond just an annual festival, as evidenced by The Brewer Boys, a team lead by 17-year-old Justin and 14-year-old Nathan Brewer and their music style they have dubbed “alternative bluegrass.”

Then again, anyone who is a fan of Simon Cowell’s “The X Factor” should be aware of the group. The brothers performed Hall & Oates “Rich Girl” and George Michael’s “Faith” during the first show.

“That’s a once in a lifetime deal,” said Nathan. “We knew we needed to take this seriously and we practiced like crazy. We did what we could.”

The brothers will bring their act to Monte de Oro Winery for the Dream BIG concert to benefit the Oak Grove Center.

“We’ve supported them about five years ever since we did Temecula Live, where a bunch of singers get together and play with all the proceeds going to Oak Grove,” Justin said. “We wanted to give back and we think they have a good cause so we wanted to do this for them.”

There are many stories of young musicians going on to brilliant musical careers, but rarely are the young players connected to the mandolin and harmonica.

“I picked up mandolin about a year ago after I had trouble with the guitar,” Nathan said. “I didn’t stick to it, but then a friend who was into bluegrass introduced me to it and let me borrow it.’

The Old Crow Medicine Show, a group playing American roots music with a rock and roll attitude, provided a great deal of inspiration.

“We stumbled onto the show and I listened closely,” Nathan said. “Then I learned ‘If I Die Young’ by The Band Perry and the instrument stood out. I really liked the sound and so that was the start of it.”

Was the world ready for a Temecula mandolin player?

“At first I was skeptical that it would be part of our duo,” Nathan said. “”As I grew closer to it and played it at gigs, I got a lot more comfortable with the sound. Now it is part of the sound.”

As for the harmonica, Justin also credits listening to The Old Crow Medicine Show.

“One of the lead singers plays the fiddle, banjo and riffs on the harmonica,” he said. “That’s pretty unusual for anyone to be riffing on the harmonica, so my thought was ‘Dude, I want to do that too!'”

And the rest was history, sort of.

“It’s a cool instrument, but I’m still in the process of figuring it out,” Justin said. “I thought I could just blow into this thing, but no way.”

His first success came with the old song, “Cc Rider,” a song he first heard on and OCMS recording.

“They had done a cover of it and I hear it and it has a lot of harp on it and it sounded cool,” Justin said. “Eventually I was able to learn it.”

The brothers have spent a good part of their young lives performing. Both attended St. Jean’s and Linfield Christian in Temecula. Eventually, they had their first gig, four  years ago. At the time, it was Justin playing the guitar as they both sang.

“That’s another reason I took up the mandolin,” Nathan said. “I hated being up there without anyting my hand.”

The first gig was a little shy of the big time.

“I guess our first real gig was at a coffee place and we did an hour-long set,” Justin said. “We bought a little sound system and it worked. At the time we were mainly doing covers because we were just getting into music.”

Over the years, the band has played a variety of genres, from bluegrass and country to Journey, Train and Crosby, Stills & Nash.

“It was over the last few years when we started to realize we could make a career out of it,” Justin said.

Over their career they have played numerous events, including Stagecoach. And at times, they have received a few curious glances.

“There are people that don’t get us and some that do,” said Nathan. “We want to come up with something different and something new, and whenever you do that there will be debate”

They believe their hard work with their music has helped them gain acceptance.

“A lot of people have a hard time at first taking it seriously,” Justin acknowledged. “But we are pretty good about our music and we just keep going.”

They have already had quite a few experiences, including working with John Carter Cash at The Cash Cabin Studio.

“We got to record in Johnny Cash’s cabin,” said Justin. “It was surreal. His guitar was there, his chair was there, the piano he used to write songs on was there. Just being there and having a chance to record our songs was so inspiring. We became bigger fans too.”

Now, the brothers are working in the studio to polish up a seven or eight song CD.

“We want to get out something that is representative of us and see how it goes,” said Nathan.



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