The Original

January 27, 2005

Neenah-Menasha Independent News: Steppin' Out - January 2005

If you're looking for a band with a different style and sound, you've got to check out Copper Box. They define themselves as "accordion swamp rock" and it's right on the button. The band, Copper Box, consists of Nate Grier, guitars; Jeff Roblee, drums; Dave Jerabek, bass guitar & tuba; Michelle Jerabek, lead vocals/saxophones/percussion; and Dan Jerabek, lead vocals/button accordion/trumpet. "Copper Box" got it's name from the "BOX" in 'button box'- the defining sound of the band and the "Copper" is what it cost to keep a band going..."every last copper penny and every last inch of emotion/motivation." Sometimes, you gotta dig deep to make things any band leader/member would eventually find out. The Jerabek's (Dan, Dave & Michelle) have been playing together for about 8 years with Dan & Dave Jerabek being brothers and playin gfor about 11 years. Music has been a big part of their families. Sprouting from a "polka-based" childhood, they branched out on their own to produce one of the country's hottest polka groups and have received many WI Hall of Fame awards, as well as having a song on their second recording being voted "The #1 Song of the Year" in hte country on a nationally syndicated radio/internet broadcast. After a couple years, they decided to broaden their song style and audience by performing original songs and an eclectic taste of music- from rock to Zydeco to blues, which was the start of Copper Box (2002). Putting Nate Grier, a guitar player from UWO and friend of Dave's, into the mix turned out to be an interesteding combination with Nate's musical background ranging from classical to progressive rock. On the other end of the phone in 2004 was a drummer by the name of Jeff Roblee, who answered an ad and passed the audition. According to Michelle, growing up, Dan, Dave & I were pretty much fed ethnic music, particularly Czech and German, which provided us with the basic fundamentals of rhythm, melody and harmony. Not to forget our grandparents and parents who encouraged us to learn an instrument and learn their favorite songs. Of course, along with that came a time to rebel and try something different...which is where we listened to just about everything...eating it as fast as we could chew. Michell's favorite influences are Eva Cassidy, Marcia Ball, Patsy Cline, CCR, Steve Esteban Jordan, and Sheryl Crow to name a few. A spark hit Dan when he heard Steve Jordan on a record that someone at one of their performances gave to him...We tried to track him down for years...and finally, we found out he was performing in TX at the Conjunto Festival, which happen to be two days after the birth of Dan & Michelle's second daughter, Maria...(which by the way, Michelle played a show with Copper Box opening for Buckwheat Zydeco the day after giving birth!) "After searching for so long to see Jordan play LIVE, how could I say no? So, I booked a round trip ticket for Dan that weekend to see Steve Jordan play and it was so worth it." Dan stood in front of the stage for 6+ hours to hold his spot--without going to the bathroom or getting a beverage! Now, many music critics compare Dan Jerabek to Steve Jordan, but yet they still maintain their own unique style. "As a musician/artist, I think it's important to take your influences and to not try to become them note for note, but to use them as an inspiration and put your own emotion into it, " says Dan. He is now endorsed by Baldoni Accordions, which is the preferred brand of accordions by artists such as, Sheryl Crow, CJ Chenier, BoDeans, John Mellancamp, The Dixie Chicks, Riders in the Sky and many more... When the group isn't performing together, the goal at the moment is to keep moving forward...ideally, we'd all like to do this (perform) full time, but things take time to develop--it's not just the music, but the business--you need both. Jeff, Nate & Dave all spend off time teaching private lessons on their instruments, while Dan repairs instruments part time and shares managing responsibility of the band and parental duties with Michelle. I asked Michelle what they'd be doing if they weren't in a band, to which she responded, "...thinking about being a band/making music." When asked what they all do in their free time, Michelle jokes, "There really isn't any...ha ha, Actually, it's important that everyone takes time off from their job or daily routine to do something different. We usually, however, end up spending more time in our van, driving south with our kids to San Antonio, TX or to the bayou, stopping at small towns on the way."