By Andrew Ellis, Editor-in-Chief
When the Pat Watters Band hits the stage for Camp Douglas Armed Forces Days on Saturday, May 18th, they won’t be completely unknown to the crowd. Sure, they’re one of the supporting acts, but they’re one of that select group who have their own following.
“Over the past six years playing there, this one has started to feel like a ‘home game’ to us,” lead singer Pat Watters says. “We have a lot of fan support at this show, so it’s cool to see so many Pat Watters Band shirts in the crowd when you are the support act.”
They’re playing their 7th year this year, but last year the band reached their own milestone – 10 years as a band. Four out of the six people in the band’s camp, including the sound woman, have been there since day one. And the newest member still has four years with the band. And it’s not just the music part Watters is proud of.
“The fact that it’s still fun and we still enjoy each other’s company is huge,” he says. “If you’re going to spend that much of your life with people and away from the friends and family you love, getting along is huge.”
He still remembers their first show together. It was at a big festival called the Taste of Madison in Madison, WI. As a solo artist he’d developed a strong relationship with one of the radio stations in the area. They knew he was starting a band and booked them without seeing them play.
“We were all pretty damn nervous,” he says. “Typically, you prefer to work your warts out on a smaller stage than that. But it was a blessing of an opportunity we the made the most of.”
They’ve packed a lot of success into 10 years, too. They’ve made two albums that are cherished by their fans, have received more than a few spins at country radio, and even won Country Artist of the Year at the 2015 Wisconsin Area Music Industry Awards. That last one was especially meaningful to them.
“It really felt like an acknowledgement that our regional industry gave us their stamp of approval,” he says. “That was cool.”
During those 10 years it was the little things that left the most impact. Whether it was nailing an important performance, being on the road, or the loyal fanbase they’ve cultivated. Then there’s the life happenings away from the music.
“We’ve seen two marriages, four children, and several grandchildren since we started,” he says. “And getting to experience all of that together was special as well.”
As they head into decade number two they’ve already got a strong busy 2019 ahead of them. They’ve booked through October with a lot of what Watters refers to as “BIG shows,” including plenty of dates on the Wisconsin festival circuit. There will be a lot of writing, too, with the band hoping to get new music out in 2020. It’ll also be a time for some expansion and collaboration with other Midwest CMA artists as he helps them break into their market and vice versa.
“We have the Devon Worley Band and Sarah Morris playing in the La Crosse area in 2019,” he says. “And we plan to help both promote the hell out of those shows.”
Even with them venturing into to new territory they’ll have plenty of shows back in their home state. Saturday’s Camp Douglas Armed Forces Days slot kicks of their 2019 festival dates, and their following isn’t the only reason this event holds a special place in their heart. It’s given them a chance to open up for many of the artists they grew up listening to.
“Many of them turned out to be as cool as people as you always hoped they’d be,” he says.
On a more serious note, the event supports the United States military. Watters says that’s an opportunity you just can’t pass up.
“Any opportunity to be a part of honoring those amazing Americans is an honor,” he says.
Featured Photo: Pat Watters Band playing 2018 Camp Doudlas Armed Forces Day