Biography All Music Guide
All Music Guide:
The Chapmans don't quite fit the profile of the usual family bluegrass band. Unlike the Renos, the McCourys, and others, there are no ancestors with years of musical experience lurking in the Chapmans' background, nor does the obvious talent stretch back generation after generation. They are the first of the family to carve out a career in music, but they aren't going at it alone. All the members of the Chapman family -- father Bill; mother Patti; and sons Jason, Jeremy, and John -- were big fans of Denver-based bluegrass bands Hot Rize and Front Range long before they formed friendships with bandmembers or went on to form their own bluegrass unit. Despite the family's lack of a professional background in music, they formed strong alliances through frequent attendance at bluegrass shows in the region. When they were ready to strike out and make their mark, musicians such as Front Range's Bob Amos stepped in to lend a hand. In fact, the Chapmans recorded their first release at Amos' home studio. Encouraged by recording sessions that turned into an enjoyable learning experience, Bill Chapman installed a studio of his own at home, which enabled his three boys to gain valuable industry skills. During his early years, the Chapman patriarch played the piano and organ before taking up the banjo. John Chapman, who evolved into the band's centerpiece with his guitar and lead vocals, started early in life on the fiddle. Patti Chapman took up the bass when son Jeremy became interested in the mandolin. When his mom opted out of performing, son Jason stepped in on bass, even though he had only recently begun playing the instrument. John Chapman took home a junior division fiddling championship as a young teenager in his home state of Colorado. At the dawn of the 1990s, the family started playing local fairs and other smaller venues, and they went on to put out several recordings on their own. The Chapmans settled in Missouri in 1998, the same year they took home the International Bluegrass Band Championship, a title conferred by the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America (SPBGMA). The year continued to bring good fortune to the family, starting with the release of their debut, Love's Gonna Live Here, and the offer of a contract from Pinecastle Records. The following year, the record company released Notes From Home. The CD garnered glowing reviews, as well as a nomination for Album of the Year from the SPBGMA. In the same awards competition, the society also honored the Chapmans with a Vocal Group of the Year nomination, while John Chapman took home the title of Guitar Player of the Year in 2002. The bluegrass family band spent 2000 on the road at a variety of prestigious festivals. Among the stops were the Louisville, KY, stage of Fan Fest run by the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA), Indiana's Bean Blossom, and Kentucky's Poppy Mountain, as well as a number of performances at Tennessee's Dollywood. The following year, Pinecastle put out Follow Me, while the Chapmans played festivals throughout the south and enjoyed an IBMA nomination in the category of Emerging Artists of the Year.