Trevor Ebinger and Jason Franzen worked the music scene long before they even knew how to drive.
You could say that Ebinger and Franzen — who used to ride the school bus together and graduated from Brainerd High School a year apart in the late 1980s — are following in their fathers’ footsteps since both of their fathers were in bands. Ebinger plays drums and Franzen plays lead guitar and they both sing in the band October Son. They’ve been in the band since 2002.
Franzen’s father, Jack Franzen, currently plays in Muddy Water. Jack Franzen, who has been in bands since the 1950s, also is known for his days playing in The Orbits and The Shamrocks. Jason Franzen said he’s played with his father in Muddy Water since he was 19.
“My dad also fills in for us if all the band members can’t be at a venue,” Franzen said.
Ebinger’s father, Ron Ebinger, has played in several bands, including Country Connection, River Country and The Staggers. Ebinger played with his father in The Staggers for 12 years, beginning at age 16.
“Playing in a band is a natural thing for us,” Ebinger said. “Music is a huge part of our life. Everything rotates around it.”
“You can’t be away from it too long,” Franzen said. “The more you listen to it the more you want to play.”
Ebinger and Franzen said their fathers never played music together, but both fathers brought them to music jam sessions when they were around 10. They played music with some teenage bands before joining their fathers.
“The whole community would show up for these jam sessions and there were all sort of musicians there,” Ebinger said. “Seeing my dad perform, I knew that I was going to do music too.”
Franzen said the jam sessions were helpful to musicians in learning how to play and getting comfortable on stage. He said that, at first, he didn’t want to be a musician like his father.
“I was a sports nut and I wanted to play baseball,” Franzen said. “But after being around it (music) so much, I eventually picked up on it. It’s fun and I like music.”
Franzen and Ebinger both have families so they have to balance their time between family, music and their full-time jobs.
October Son was founded by Eric Neznik of Staples. The band then consisted of Neznik, Dan Parker, Franzen and Ebinger. Then, four years ago, Neznik and Parker left the band and Steve Michaud (Litchfield, vocals and rhythm guitar) and Mark Moehle (Sauk Rapids, vocals and bass guitar) joined the band.
“The first time we played together we knew it’d be special,” Ebinger said.
Moehle, originally from Missouri, had his first professional road gig at age 17 with a three-month tour with a theater company. Moehle said he played with several bands before coming to October Son. He said he played with Killer Hayseeds’ fiddle player Dan Essery for a while and worked with Steve Hall, a Brainerd native, and Shotgun Red, along with show host Ralph Emery.
Moehle said he’s known Franzen and Ebinger for a long time. He said they’d call him at least once a year asking him to join their band, but it never worked out. In 2002 when they called, he was between bands and jumped at the chance to play with October Son. He then suggested that Michaud, who he played with for more than 20 years, join the band.
Michaud had been playing since age 16 at clubs with his father, Bob Greenhow Jr. His father used to own a little resort on Lake Nokay in the Brainerd lakes area.
“My dad got me involved in the business,” Michaud said. “He was a bass guitar (player) and singer. He taught me how to play guitar.”
Michaud has been involved in several bands over the years and traveled across the United States and Canada.
Since the change in band members, October Son has gained popularity with music fans in the Brainerd lakes area, Ebinger said. He said that, with the new band, they wanted to take their music a step further and perform more challenging music, vocally and instrumentally.
October Son plays mostly classic rock and songs by bands such as the Eagles, Johnny Cash, Toby Keith, the Little River Band and Nickleback. The band plays at several clubs in the Brainerd lakes area and Litchfield. Recently they’ve played the Primetime in Breezy Point, Harpo’s in Merrifield and Ten Hi in Motley, where they will play Saturday night.
“We’ll go anywhere we can get a booking,” Ebinger said. “We’re a crowd-pleaser and when we’re having a good night where everything is perfect where we sound great, the crowd is into it. It’s just such a neat experience ... We love it.
“Our motto is that we’re the best band you’ve never heard. It’s hard to get your name out there. It’s amazing to see all the talent on stage. It’s tougher today as there are not as many bars that have live bands anymore.”
Franzen said that, in the mid-1960s, when his dad was playing in bars, there were seven bars in downtown Brainerd that had live bands. Today, not as many clubs have live bands because of the cost.
“We had to make a decision on whether we wanted to be a mediocre band or try to be a better band in the country,” Ebinger said. “There is no market today for middle bands.”
The band has a Facebook page with 149 friends and also has a website — www.octoberson.com — created by Tim Graves, who the band jokingly calls their “unpaid roadie.”
JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5851.