NEW BREMEN — For New Bremen residents Ben Tuttle, 15, and Paul Luft, 16, life as typical high school students changed entirely when their guitar teacher Jeff King approached them with the idea of creating a country band.
“He kind of put us together,” said Luft, the band’s lead vocalist.
Luft had been taking lessons from King for about a year, then stopped for a year.
Around the time he resumed lessons, Tuttle also started taking lessons from King.
“It was pretty exciting,” Ben said.
Although country may not have been the genre they would have leaned toward, the consensus was that they wanted to give it a go.
They gained two more members in Cody Paul, 16, and Michael Molaskey, 15, both of New Bremen.
Their band name, Shelby County Line, stems from the fact that one of the band members lives on the Shelby County line.
“I think at first we were kind of all like — we didn’t know what we were doing,” Luft said.
“It was fun. In March (of 2011) we started getting more songs and we started playing places and people started liking us. In 2011 we only played maybe one place.”
The members worked and practiced throughout that winter. Since that time, their lives have exploded with requests to play shows at various local spots, including the Auglaize County Fair, the Mercer County Fair, festivals, private parties, pubs and shows with other local bands.
“In April 2012, we opened for Nashville Crush at the Ohio Theater — that’s what got us going,” Luft said.
Shelby County Line has also opened for local bands Renegade and Exploit.
“This is where we really got our start,” said Jennifer Tuttle, Ben’s mother.
“These gentlemen have been so helpful in getting our band’s name out there. They have provided us with positive feedback and ways to improve along the way. I hope we can return the favor someday with kids just starting out as well. People who are willing to work with kids are very valuable members of our society as I see it. We are very fortunate to have been connected to such wonderful and talented people.”
In addition to playing everything country — from Brad Paisley and Alan Jackson to CCR — the band has written two original songs.
“The two songs we came up with, Jeff kind of helped us with,” Luft said. “I originally came up with them.”
Luft is constantly writing and reworking the lyrics he comes up with to add to the band’s list of original songs. The two they currently play are called “Faded Jeans” and “Home is a Home.”
Shelby County Line has played them at some of the shows they’ve done with good reception so far, Jennifer Tuttle noted.
“We get bookings every time they play somewhere,” she said. “They’re always busy.”
Two of the band members, Tuttle and Luft, decided to showcase their talents in hopes of landing on national television. The teens auditioned for America’s Got Talent in Columbus on Jan. 19, hoping for a chance at the cash prize and for another advertising opportunity for the band. A callback for the show could come anywhere from mid-February to sometime in March.
Regardless as to whether or not that particular path leads anywhere, the band members have one concrete goal in mind for their futures in music — to get to Nashville and become a part of the biggest country music scene in the United States.
“I’m hoping that I’ll be able to play regularly, play at bigger venues and get to Nashville eventually,” Tuttle said.
Luft expressed similar hopes.
“I kind of hope that it will go somewhere,” he said.
Luft’s tentative plans are to pursue a college degree in music business.
“I can’t see myself not doing something with music,” he said.
In the near future, Shelby County Line plans to release a demo CD and take bookings for the upcoming summer months. For more information on Shelby County Line, check them out on Facebook, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.