September 25, 2016

Utah’s Best New Bluegrass Band are in Middle School

Flint and Steel: [left to right] Andy Knoblock, Ethan Stewart, behind Abby Clayton, Graham Northrop, Ted Shupe, Garrison Asper

Flint and Steel: [left to right] Andy Knoblock, Ethan Stewart, behind Abby Clayton, Graham Northrop, Ted Shupe, Garrison Asper

“We all met in a bar,” jokes 14-year-old Flint and Steel musician Garrison Asper. Bars with alcohol? No. Musical bars? Yes. The quintet may kid about how they formed their band, but they’re spot-on serious when it comes to creating music. This group of friends are always joking around and having fun together, and this energy resonates in their sound.

Finding both gigs and time to practice while maintaining junior high school studies has been a challenge for Flint and Steel, but the up-and-coming bluegrass band is building a loyal local following, with nearly 200 likes on Facebook. These kids take their craft seriously, practicing every week at different group members’ homes. “Sometimes it is hard to keep them focused,” says Ted Shupe, their manager, as the kids headed outside to ride skateboards in the middle of practice.

Shupe knows bands. He has promoted musicians for more than 35 years and his acts have achieved national success.

Asper, Andy Knoblock, and Graham Northrop have been best friends since kindergarten and had performed together at nursing homes and the Huntsman Cancer Center. Shupe discovered them on the “Utah Old Time Fiddlers” youtube.com channel after they had each placed first in the junior division for their respective instruments. Shupe brought in violin player Abby Clayton and standup bass player Ethan Stewart at the end of 2012.

Ted Shupe, Flint and Steel manager, keeping the kids on key.

Ted Shupe, Flint and Steel manager, keeping the kids on key.

“Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band” and local bluegrass band “Ryan Shupe and the Rubberband” are a couple of bands that have influenced their music. They listen to bluegrass, jazz, country and rock on their personal music players. “I don’t like rap music,” they all chimed in at the same time.

Recording an album and performing at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival are future goals for the group.

“We have to work on their vocals. Instrumentally they are ready,” says Shupe.
“I want to gig my way through college and become a geologist,” says Asper. “I want to be a dentist because they make lots of money,” says Stewart. In ten years they all say music will be a big part of their lives even after they graduate from college and start careers.

These kids are not only multitalented but well-rounded as well. Garrison Asper plays guitar and is a vocalist for the band, he plays the viola for the Concert Orchestra and the guitar for the Jazz Band at Wasatch Junior High. Abby Clayton plays violin and sings. She took up the instrument when she was three years old. Water skiing, playing soccer, and going to concerts are a few of Abby’s interests. Andy Knoblock plays mandolin in the band; he also plays the violin in the school orchestra and is a classical pianist. Graham Northrop plays banjo and the dobro as well as the viola in his junior high orchestra. Piano, acoustic and electric guitar and mandolin are the other instruments he plays. Ethan Stewart plays stand-up bass in the band and plays electric bass, mandolin, guitar and saxophone. He plays in the junior high jazz band.

For more information about Flint and Steel, contact manager Ted Shupe: ted@tedshupebooking.com