Wondering what to get the Beagle Brothers for their tenth anniversary? Traditionally, the gift for that milestone would be made of aluminum, and bassist Kyle Kline has the perfect suggestion: “A can of beer. Or a keg of beer!”
And fittingly, when the well-loved old-time country band plays a celebratory show at the Thunderbird this Saturday, it will also tap the first keg of East End Brewing Company’s Beagle Brothers Porter, brewed with Pennsylvania malt. The band even played while the beer was made — the brewers felt it was very important to the process. “And at the end of our set we jumped up and threw in the hops and Irish moss,” recalls Read Connolly, who plays steel guitar.
The Beagle Brothers initially formed as a rock band, in the late ’90s, but started playing country in 2005. The lineup has changed over the years (“There’s been maybe four or five guitar-players,” Connolly says), and currently includes guitarist Eric Brockschmidt, drummer Ezra Smith and vocalists Noah and Gabriel Smith. (The latter two, along with Kline, have been on board the full ten years).
Among other accomplishments, the band has released four full-length records and several EPs, and performed as part of Groundhog Day festivities in Punxatawney, Pa., resulting in a shout-out on The Daily Show.
The group is also Rick Sebak’s undisputed favorite band, which might make it the most Pittsburgh band in existence — a position soon to be solidified when Mayor Bill Peduto’s office declares Dec. 12 Beagle Brothers Day.
Staying together for a decade isn’t always easy, and things get bumpy from time to time: Kline mentions that the group once (only semi-jokingly) put an ad on Craigslist seeking a band counselor. But brotherhood, be it biological or adoptive, is at the core of the group. That’s something audiences sense and respond to, Connolly theorizes, and Kline agrees: “Our ticket to success is our foundation of friendship. … There are all kinds of cool things that we’ve done,” he continues, “but we’ve remained friends, and I love these guys and I’m proudest of that part of it.” And that’s something we can all drink to.