The Butler Creek Boys have come a long way in a very short amount of time.
One of Siloam Springs' and western Benton County's newest singing groups, it might surprise some people that the group, as it is now, has only been playing together a little more than a year-and-a-half.
Even more surprising is that several of the band members are still very new to playing their specific instruments.
Listening to The Butler Creek Boys perform an old southern gospel song or a bluegrass tune, one would think they've been doing this together a long time.
"We're just now over a year old really from what we consider our main opening concert," said Dillon Butler. "When we really felt like we had a handle on it."
That concert was at the grand opening of the Memorial Park Chautauqua Amphitheater on Memorial Day in 2019.
Since then, the group has performed more than 16 concerts last year, mostly in churches. But they also sang at the 2019 Siloam Springs Rodeo, another concert at the amphitheater before the Christmas Parade and even some family reunions.
The best thing is the group members aren't doing this to get rich or make it big. They do it because they enjoy the music and each other.
"We have a blast with it," Austin Butler said. "That's why we're doing it. We're lucky that people like to listen to it because we have so much fun just getting together."
And in today's modern age, the old southern gospel and bluegrass genre of music is a throwback to yesteryear, which really sings to many people's souls.
"I would say one of the neatest things is the style of music we do -- it's kind of cool to people," Dillon Butler said. "People haven't heard it in a long time."
The band members
A group of five men make up The Butler Creek Boys with three of them being brothers.
Dustin, Austin and Dillon Butler, the sons of Brent and Ronda Butler and grandsons of Lynch and Kathy Butler, are the eighth generation of the great Butler family that settled in east Siloam Springs in the Fairmount Community in the 1860s alongside what is now called Butler Creek.
During the day, all three of the brothers work for Crestview Farms, managing and working the family's brand of chicken houses in western Benton County and southwest Missouri.
Dustin Butler, 34, is the oldest and sings lead vocals. And for the last five years has been the lead play-by-play man for the livestream broadcast of Siloam Springs High School football.
Austin Butler, 32, sings baritone and plays the banjo. He's joined his brother for color commentary on the football broadcast as well for several years.
Dillon Butler, 28, sings bass vocals and plays the upright bass. He also does work as an auctioneer in the community.
Also in the group are Nick Braschler, 32, who sings tenor and plays the mandolin, and Tanner Andrews, 25, who plays guitar and sings lead vocals with Dustin Butler.
Braschler, who works as the lead chaplain at Simmons, has been a friend of the Butler family for several years. Andrews, meanwhile, is a former Crestview Farms employee who now works for Tyson.
Nick Braschler had been going to Sager Creek Community Church for a long time, the same church that the Butler brothers and their families attend, and had known Brent Butler from working at Simmons Foods.
"I had always wanted to know how to cattle farm," Braschler said. "So I kept bugging (Brent Butler) to let me come tool around. So he pawned me off on Dillon."
As Dillon Butler recalls, his dad had been after him for some time to get Braschler out to the family's farm.
"I never did anything about it," Dillon Butler said. "One day, dad calls me after church, 'Nick is going to be at your house in an hour to go feed cows today. This is a learning job.'"
Everyone estimates this was around 2012, about eight years ago.
Dillon Butler and Braschler meet up and are driving around in a truck.
"We talked a bit and everything," Dillon Butler said. "Nick's probably more quiet than I am. We're running out of things to talk about in a big way."
Wanting to break the awkward silence, Dillon Butler realized he had a Blackwood Brothers Quartet album in the truck's CD player.
"I always liked the old style southern gospel music," Dillon Butler said. "I was like, 'Do you like music Nick?' I'm thinking he's a young guy. I know I'm 50 years behind my times, fully recognize this since I was in high school."
The song "Old Country Church" starts playing and Braschler starts singing the tenor part to the song.
"We go through the entire CD and he knows every word, every tenor part," Dillon Butler said. "He's singing the high notes."
Dillon Butler calls his brother Austin, who was at one of the chicken houses, and tells him to come join them.
"I made Austin get in the truck and we listen to the whole CD again," Dillon Butler said. "And Austin's always sang baritone, and so we listen to this CD together and I don't know if the idea was right then, but it kind of planted the seed of having an idea -- maybe we should be friends with this guy. Maybe we should sing."
The three men started visiting some more, only to learn that Braschler's family had a show -- The Braschler Music Show -- in Branson for more than 20 years.
"My grandpa sang tenor for them," Braschler said. "All that music is stuff I grew up listening to. I didn't know it was Blackwood Brothers when (Dillon Butler) played it. I just knew it as Braschlers Quartet.
"My whole life, growing up we'd go to my aunt's farm and hang out and then go to the show and I'd be back stage singing with them."
Not long after befriending Braschler, Dillon and Austin Butler began singing with him as a trio with Austin Butler and Braschler each able to play the guitar. They remember singing "What Child Is This?" at a Christmas Eve service at their church.
"That was where it started," Dillon Butler said. "Really, we just kind of did that for a long time, probably six to seven years."
Said Austin Butler: "Our church would always ask us to do something anytime they had a special deal. They would ask us to sing."
It's Father's Day 2018 and Austin Butler is at home watching The Andy Griffith Show.
"There's several episodes where a family comes down out of the mountains. They're called the Darlings, and they play bluegrass music on the show," he said. "I was watching that, and I was watching this guy play the banjo, and I was like, man that's cool. I decided right then, and I told my wife, I'm going to go buy a banjo for Father's Day."
Austin Butler said he texted his brothers and Braschler that he was going to go buy a banjo, which he did and started practicing on it.
Not long after that, Braschler informed Austin Butler that he "knew how to play the mandolin."
"I have a mandolin," Braschler interjected with laughs all around.
"So I told Nick, 'Well, bring it over to my house,'" Austin Butler said. "So one night we sat out on the porch until midnight picking around. Neither one of us really knew how to play."
Around that same time, the Butler boys heard from some cousins in Texas, who are "very musically inclined."
"They came up here and they heard I had a banjo and they heard Nick was picking around on the mandolin," Austin Butler said. "And so our cousin (Shane Butler) asked, 'Is there any other instrument you need?' I said, 'Well, I don't know.' He said, 'Well, what about an upright bass?'"
Austin Butler said nobody knew how to play it.
Cousin Shane Butler and his family rolled into town with an RV full of instruments and recording equipment, including an upright Sebastian bass.
"It's name is Li'l Sebastian," Dillon Butler said with a laugh, referencing a name of a celebrity miniature horse from the TV show Parks and Recreation.
"(Shane Butler) had went out on the day they were leaving, and along the way he stopped at a music shop and bought that upright bass," Austin Butler said. "He brings that up here and we're all just looking at it and he says, 'Dillon, you need to learn how to play this.' He started teaching Dillon how to play it. We had to make some modifications to it. I was playing banjo, Nick was on the mandolin and Dillon was learning to play bass."
But the group needed a guitar player -- enter Tanner Andrews.
"Right around that time, Tanner had started working for us," Austin Butler said.
"Tanner's also my wife's first cousin, so he's kin," Dillon Butler added with a twinkle in his eye.
Andrews started playing guitar with the group, which now had four members.
"For the record, when they called me wanting to play guitar, I said OK, but I'm never performing -- ever," Andrews said. "That's not me."
Sager Creek Community Church asked the group to perform at their 2018 Christmas Eve service under the name of Crestview Sound. Along with Doug Siemens, they performed, "Go Tell It On The Mountain."
As soon as they finished performing that night, Don Clark with the City of Siloam Springs and a member at Sager Creek, asked them if the group would be interested in being the opening act of the opening of the new amphitheater downtown at Memorial Park.
"At this point, I have an upright bass, and I know one song -- 'Go Tell It On The Mountain,'" Dillon Butler said.
"They want us to play 45 minutes to an hour," Austin Butler said. "I agreed to it. Nick and I are like, 'Yeah!'"
The following day, Christmas Day, Braschler and his family spent the day with the Butler family. All the instruments were there, too, and the men were wanting to play, except for Andrews, who was not present.
Also, the Butler boys' parents, Brent and Ronda Butler, had bought them an SM27 Shure Recording Microphone for Christmas.
But with Andrews not there, they needed a lead singer for the day.
"These guys can sing really well, but they like to sing a harmony part better," Austin Butler said. "That's the same with me."
Dillon Butler suggested that the oldest brother, Dustin, take a stab at it.
Dustin Butler told them to not get any big ideas, but agreed to sing with them just this one time.
"So Dustin starts singing with us and it worked," Austin Butler said. "It worked well."
Whether he liked it or not at the time, Dustin Butler was in.
On Super Bowl Sunday in 2019, the group was asked to sing for Brent Butler's small group from church at their apartment on their property, which they were living in while waiting for their current house to be built.
"Word got out that was happening and we ended up having bunches of people there," Brent Butler said. "Some of them we didn't even know."
The plan was to sing 27 songs.
"We're going to sing 27 songs and I was a nervous wreck," Dustin Butler said. "I'd never sang!"
Said Austin Butler: "It's funny, Dustin does these football games and is fine with public speaking and everything. That doesn't faze him. But I thought he might have a stroke before this thing."
"We tore through 27 songs in 21 minutes," Dustin Butler joked. "I mean just ripped them off like a band-aid, messed up all over the place. I was singing the wrong song at times, all kinds of stuff, mixing songs together. This was no joke. ... The moment the last strum of the guitar hit and it was over, I looked at Tanner and I said, 'You think any of these windows don't have screens in them? Because I'd like to jump out of one of them right now.'"
Austin Butler said that performance was a "real eye-opener."
"We thought we'd lost Dustin that night," Andrews said.
"Yeah, we really did," Austin Butler added. "We had to talk him into coming back. For like two weeks, he wouldn't respond to text messages. I went and found him, 'Dustin you going to come back?'"
Said Dustin Butler: "It was not a fun evening for me."
The Butler Creek Boys
With a big performance on the horizon at the grand opening of the amphitheater, the group knew they had to get a lot better in a hurry.
They started practicing two to three nights a week, playing well into the night.
"We practiced hard and we improved a lot in those few months," Austin Butler said.
But there was a bit of a debate about what the band should be called.
They were still going by Crestview Sound.
But the Butler boys' granddad, Lynch Butler, kept referring to them as "The Butler Creek Boys."
"(Lynch Butler) wanted us to sing at the Fairmount Community Building," Austin Butler said. "He was texting Dad about it. 'You think The Butler Creek Boys would be interested in doing this?' Dad would correct him and respond, 'Well I think they go by the Crestview Sound.' And then the very next day he would say, 'OK, we're looking forward to the Butler Creek Boys.'"
The Butler Creek Boys stuck.
"What it is, we own this place here on Butler Creek," Dillon Butler said. "Nick lives here on Butler Creek. We practice on it. Tanner lives just right up the road. ... Me and Dustin and Austin are eighth generation in these hills."
All agree now that the The Butler Creek Boys turned out to be a better choice.
Memorial Day 2019
So Memorial Day 2019 arrives and The Butler Creek Boys are ready to make what they refer to as their debut concert at the grand opening of the Memorial Park Chautauqua Amphitheater in downtown Siloam Springs.
"We're feeling pretty good about things," Austin Butler said. "We have confidence. It was probably not warranted, but we had confidence. We get downtown early that morning. We run through everything. We do a sound check. We've got a set list. We know exactly who's going to be saying what, what time, what songs we're going to be singing. It was very rehearsed."
Mayor John Mark Turner is on stage speaking to the gathered crowd, and the group is off to the side waiting to come on after Turner's speech when disaster hits.
"A gust of wind comes through and Dillon's bass, Li'l Sebastian, is on a stand that up until that time we thought was rock solid," Austin Butler said. "We're on the opposite end. The gust of wind blows through and you can just see this bass start to fall."
"There were audible gasps everywhere," Dustin Butler said.
The bass fell off the stage onto a side wall.
"You just see this thing -- wham! -- and hear it crack and bust," Austin Butler said. "You could see the neck pop up in the air."
"The mayor just goes, 'Uhh, Dillon?'" Andrews added, which now brings a laugh to the group.
The Butler Creek Boys began scrambling to figure out what they're going to do.
"We had rehearsed it just the way we were going to do it for three months," Dustin Butler said. "The whole thing went out the window."
Someone informed the group that Nathanael Stone of Stoneridge Recording left the ceremony to head back to his recording studio to pick up an upright bass.
They decided to perform their a cappella songs while waiting on Stone to return with the bass.
"The timing was perfect," Austin Butler said. "As we run out of a cappella songs, somebody carries this bass on to the stage."
The Butler Creek Boys, sans Li'l Sebastian, made it through their first concert.
"Dustin did do a heel click at the end of the Memorial Day concert," Andrews said with a laugh.
"I did -- a true heel click," Dustin Butler said.
A man in the audience, Rob Johnston, came up afterwards and talked to Dillon Butler and offered to fix Li'l Sebastian for free.
Li'l Sebastian is back upright and playing well today.
After the Memorial Day ceremony last year, The Butler Creek Boys went on to play around 16 times.
Some of their favorite songs to perform are "Whoa Mule," "Fox On The Run," "Will The Circle Be Unbroken," "Just A Walk With Jesus," "I Saw The Light," "Life's Railway To Heaven" and "This Little Light of Mine."
And, they always have "The Star-Spangled Banner" in their back pocket if they ever want to use it.
This year, they were set to continue doing concerts and even attend some bluegrass festivals before the covid-19 pandemic.
They're also in the process of making an album.
"That's probably the biggest thing, is we've been spending time here lately is the gospel album we're recording at Stoneridge," Austin Butler said.
There have been some discussions about playing with Braschlers on a reunion show in Branson and even possibly getting in at Silver Dollar City one day.
But until then, they're enjoying each other's presence and making music that people love to hear.
And the reactions are worth more than words.
"We'll sing some of these older gospel hymns and people are either tearing up or singing with us," Braschler said. "'You brought me back home to my country church.' We've benefited. Friendships have come out of it. Seeing people enjoy music that we enjoy is why we do it."