It’s been no ordinary trip for Green River Ordinance
January 6, 2015
Evolution is a major element in the growth of the country-rock band Green River Ordinance.
"When we started out, we were so young and had an idea of what it meant to be a band, but we were still navigating the waters to find our identity not only as a band, but as people," lead vocalist and guitarist Josh Jenkins told The Park Record. "Throughout that process, we became bolder about who we wanted to be and we became willing to take chances.
"I think a lot of musicians’ definitions about who they are starts off by emulating others, because it’s safe," he said. "Over time, they become more comfortable about who they really are. That’s happened to us. We’re a rock ‘n’ roll band with a Southern tinge."
Park City will get the opportunity to hear that blend of country and rock when Green River Ordinance performs at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, Jan. 10.
The band — Jenkins, guitarist, banjoist and mandolinist Jamey Ice, bassist Geoff Ice, guitarist Joshua Wilkerson and drummer Denton Hunker — started 15 years ago when the Ice brothers began playing music in Ft. Worth, Texas.
"The band’s name came from a street sign in their garage," Jenkins said. "Back then, they played more blues-rock. Everyone wore bell-bottoms and played all these covers they learned in high school."
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At that time, Jenkins was cutting his teeth performing covers of country-music greats such as Gene Watson and Merle Haggard.
"I grew up singing country music in little oprys in Texas that my parents introduced me to when I was 11," he said. "Over time, I wanted to branch out and write my own stuff. That’s when a friend of a friend introduced me to Jamie and Jeff."
Jenkins had never written songs before.
"I thought it was crazy that we were in a band when we were 14 and 15 years old and writing our own songs," he said. "It was so cool to be a unit that played songs that we wrote, which was a whole different experience for me."
The band took a lot of cues from the bands that were big at that time, including Matchbox 20 and Tonic.
"We also listened to older bands like Tom Petty, The Rolling Stones, The Eagles, The Band and James Taylor," Jenkins said. "I know Stevie Ray Vaughan was a huge influence on Jamey and Geoff, so, we began by taking all these styles and melding them into one."
Throughout the past 15 years, Green River Ordinance’s musical arc has bent toward an Eagles-meets-Fleetwood Mac style, according to Jenkins.
"It’s been an amazing trip," he said. "I don’t take it for granted that we play music and can share experiences with people through our stories.
"That’s one of the most powerful things about art," he said. "You take your story — whether it’s writing a song, painting a picture or writing an article for a paper — and use it as a form of communication that people can resonate with."
That’s what makes the time spent traveling and songwriting worth every second.
"We get to go out and play a song and have people sing with us or have people come up afterwards and talk to us about it," Jenkins said. "We get to connect with people on that level, which is one of the coolest things we can do as a band."
Another way Green River Ordinance touches lives is through charity work. The band has established a website, http://www.thehopeGROs.com , that is designed to help the less fortunate.
Green River Ordinance will post a song or item that fans can purchase and all the money raised will be donated to charities of the fans’ choices.
"We all can be guilty of being inward-focused and some of the most rewarding things we have learned is that we have the ability to serve and give what we’ve been given to help others," Jenkins said. "We challenge ourselves to create opportunities for our fans to engage and help others through the band, because there is a joy in doing something like that which means more than a number in a bank account."
Jenkins said this is just one of the ways the band’s philosophy has evolved over the past 15 years.
"We embarked on this endeavor in high school and made some big decisions in college, including dropping out to focus on the music," he said. "We have experienced many different stages in life as brothers. I think we have spent as many days and miles in a van than it would take to travel to the moon and back."
In doing so, Green River Ordinance has learned a lot about life.
"When you spend 15 years with the same bunch of guys, you become brothers," Jenkins said. "We’ve experienced marriages and now, I’m about to become a father.
"I believe we’ve been able to stay together as a band because of grace," he said. "We need to have grace to each other, to be patient throughout all the changes life brings, because we aren’t perfect, and have made a lot of dumb decisions as people."
The band’s next step is to record a new album.
"We are finishing up the songs," Jenkins said. "Just before you called, I was just on Skype with the guys talking through some lyrics on a song. We plan to record in the spring."
The Park City Institute will present Green River Ordinance at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, 1750 Kearns Blvd., on Saturday, Jan. 10, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $20 to $69 and are available by visiting http://www.ecclescenter.org.