It takes a certain amount of bravery for an artist to step onto a stage, stand in the spotlight and be judged. For a teenager, struggling with all the angst that adolescence brings, that spotlight can burn even brighter. But, for the four teens of Insane Courage, a young country music band whose name recalls the infinite wisdom of smart movie dialogue, the risk to reward ratio seems worth it.
Fourteen-year-old Sara Ann Garrison has been singing her whole life but it was a chance encounter at last year's Delaware State Fair Youth Talent Competition that brought the band members together.
"The boys competed as a band and Sara Ann was there as a soloist," said Angela Garrison, who does double duty as Sara Ann's mom and the band's manager. "Afterwards, on the way home, Sara Ann told me that she thought it would be so cool to be in a band with the boys."
It turns out the boys were thinking the same thing about her.
"Landon Jones, the guitarist, contacted Sara Ann later that same day to ask if she was looking for a guitarist, bassist and a drummer," said Angela Garrison. "Everything moved really quickly after that."
So, in August, Sara Ann and Jones spent a couple of weeks practicing together to see if it was worth getting everybody involved. The first practice session actually yielded the two their first original song, "Summer Life." By the end of the first week, they had hammered out their second song, "Waitin' on Love."
Two songs spurred on their confidence and they felt ready to work as a full band. Jones' other two bandmates, Sammy Price and Parker Sard, were brought into the practice sessions and by October, the band was committed to their first gig at SportZone in Smyrna.
But, bands that play gigs need a name. Sara Ann always performed under her own name as a soloist but the boys had been performing as Derailed. As a unit, they needed a name that fit them both.
"We were watching 'We Bought a Zoo' and there's this line that Matt Damon's character says, 'All you need is 20 seconds of insane courage and I promise you, something great will come of it," said Angela Garrison. "Sara Ann heard that and immediately related it to being on stage."
She explained the concept to Jones, who thought it was perfect. Finally, the band had a name and was ready to perform the 22 songs they were rehearsing in their practice sessions.
Inspiration doesn't only come from movies, though. The kids are also inspired by one another.
Page 2 of 3 - "When I saw her onstage, I couldn't believe she was close to my own age and I really liked her singing ability," said Jones. "Then, she won and if you can't beat them, have them join you, right?"
"My guitarist Landon inspires me to be a better singer every day," said Sara Ann. "He is so amazing at what he does that I want to strive to be as great as him."
Following their debut in Smyrna, the band has gone on to write four more original songs and they're getting booking requests.
But, since the first video aired on MTV in 1981, every band now has to have something visual to connect with their fans that will also garner them new fans. So, at 5 p.m., Monday, April 1, the band will film its first full length music video for the song, "Cowboy Up." The group will perform at Cowboy Up Saloon, in Dover, and have even invited kids the opportunity to be in the video as well.
"We need about 30 kids, boys and girls, to come and help us out with the line dancing scenes," said Angela Garrison. "Participation will only cost $5 per child and all the money will benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation."
The decision to donate to CCF wasn't arbitrary either. The band's drummer, Sammy Price, has cystic fibrosis.
"It was really important to all four kids to be able to have this charity aspect be a part of the event," said Angela Garrison.
Charity aside, the four kids are like other musicians and are excited about filming a video and performing for everybody afterwards. They all hope this is just the first step in a long country music career.
"I definitely want to be a famous country singer," said Sara Ann. "I get a lot of inspiration from singers like Carrie Underwood, Martina McBride and Miranda Lambert."
Jones, who is mostly self-taught except for two private theory lessons with Tommy Alderson, the guitar tech for Deep Purple's Steve Morse, would be happy performing anywhere.
"Music inspires me," said Jones. "I could see myself playing gigs locally in Delaware."
And, for everyone who comes by to participate or see the show afterwards, the band will also be selling a four-song CD for $5 that includes video's title song, "Cowboy Up."
The rest of April features a jam-packed schedule of gigs. On Saturday, April 6, the band will perform at a Down Syndrome Association benefit in Smyrna followed by a performance at The Green Stinger for Family Fun Day on Sunday, April 14. Then, on Saturday, April 20, the kids will hit the stage at the Harrington Moose Lodge. Finally, the band will close out April with a show at the Rehoboth Ale House in Rehoboth Beach.