Man and the Box has built a following with their unique sound, transforming beloved songs from every decade using three-part harmonies and an acoustic style. Tommy Edwards, his son, also named Tommy Edwards, and Aaron Fetveit planted their musical roots in the Flathead Valley about five years ago and have since drawn crowds from as far as Hamilton and Polson to their shows.
The Edwardses and Fetveit joined forces after an unexpected meeting at an open mic night, where Fetveit was performing with his younger brother, followed by the Edwards duo.
“We didn’t really start with the idea of starting a band. It was really just the three of us would get together and play,” said the elder Edwards.
Fetveit said they were all overcome with mutual admiration upon hearing each other perform that first time.
“They started singing and it blew me away. It was awesome,” Fetveit said of the father/son duo.
Fetveit said he and the Edwards exchanged numbers that night and gathered for their first jam session days later.
“We were fast friends immediately,” Fetveit said.
From there, Man and the Box was born.
The trio met casually at first, practicing different cover songs every few weeks in their homes.
All three sing, but younger Edwards took on the vocal lead, accompanying himself on guitar while his father sang backup and played an instrument called a U-bass, a ukulele that makes a bass sound. Fetveit provided a third harmony and a beat, keeping the rhythm on his cajon, a box-like drumming instrument.
The group began crafting a unique sound by taking meticulously chosen songs by artists including Alice in Chains, Pink Floyd and Bob Seger, and altering them with their signature three-part harmonies and acoustic instruments.
Not long after they began performing at local open mic nights, the band started attracting attention from regional artists and businesses.
“We’re not a huge community, but it’s a community that really appreciates good music,” Fetveit said.
“A cool thing about our valley, too, is that everybody works together and really appreciates the work they do,” he added.
The music scene the Edwardses found when they moved to the Flathead from Nashville six years ago surprised them, according to the elder Edwards.
Coming from a musical family, he said he was always in a band in Nashville, but rarely got to play in any shows.
He moved his family to Kalispell expecting to resign to the “campfire circuit,” playing music only at small gatherings of friends and family.
However, the valley greeted him with more musical opportunities, artists and venues than he had ever encountered before, and he soon found himself involved in two successful bands, Comatose Posse and Man and the Box.
His favorite part about Man and the Box is his position in the background.
Since he was a teenager, the elder Edwards said he was always the frontman, the lead singer of any group he joined.
For the first time, he gets to experience the joy of supporting his band while watching his son step up and lead.
“My favorite part is when you nail a three-part harmony, it makes the hair on your arms stand up,” the elder Edwards said. “It’s rare to get chills, especially when you’ve been doing this as long as I have.”
His son agreed, but said his favorite part of performing comes when they pass those chills on to their audience.
“That’s my favorite compliment that we get, when people come up and comment on the passion we put into it,” the young Edwards said. “We love it, and it’s contagious.”
Over the last five years, the group’s number of paid gigs has grown from a trickle into a flood, placing the band in high demand across the valley for both public performances and private events.
This year was the trio’s first as a year-round act, rather than a solely summer attraction, allowing the younger Edwards to commit to the music full-time.
In addition to their full-time day jobs, the elder Edwards and Fetveit now also make time to practice with younger Edwards at least once a week, working on new songs and sounds to add to their repertoire.
The younger Edwards said he is learning how to balance his new music career with his growing family.
He celebrated the birth of his second daughter early last week and played a show that Friday.
Though he and his bandmates regularly play shows at places like the Raven, Marina Cay and the Garden Bar in Bigfork, and the Brass Tap and 406 in Kalispell, he has high hopes and big plans for their next step.
The goal for Man and the Box’s future includes a bigger sound that will help them book larger venues.
The band, according to the older Edwards, already turns down more offers to play than they accept.
“A year ago or two years ago, we couldn’t even fathom that,” the older Edwards said. “But now, with the response we’ve gotten and the offers we’re getting to play at these places … we’re not going to be bound by anything.”
For more information or to book Man and the Box, visit www.facebook.com/manandthebox or call/text (615) 818-4891.
Reporter Mary Cloud Taylor can be reached at 758-4459 or firstname.lastname@example.org.