Story by Cindy Burbage
Photos by NATALIE
Music is the universal language that can speak to the innermost part of the soul. It can cheer up the gloomiest day or rush in with tons of memories from good days past. Listening to the sound is only part of that conversation, possessing the talent to perform the sound is the entire dialogue.
Local Pooler band Esteban’s Hat has been soothing souls and creating memories for others for almost three years, and band members Craig Brewer, Troy Brown, Garrett Coleman, Darren Harrison and Ashton Milliken have a lifetime of musical experience.
The name Esteban’s Hat is not your average run of the mill band name, and one is curious – how did they come up with that?
As laughter filled the room during a recent get together, Craig jokingly explained, “All the good names were taken. No, we made a list of thirty names, and we decided rather than having the perfect name, we just needed a name to get out there. We got to looking at these really famous bands that have these ridiculous non-sense names. So with our list of thirty names, we narrowed it down to twelve and we tallied it up to go with the most popular.”
Does the name have a meaning? Yes, it does.
“Have you ever seen on QVC, the guy that wears all black and plays guitar with his fingernails?” Craig asked, then answered his question, “Well that’s Esteban. We figured his name was probably copyrighted, so we said how about his hat. I have actually went on EBay and found a leather flat bill style hat that was one of Esteban’s hats, and he autographed the hat box. So we have an original Esteban hat, for whatever that’s worth. During concerts, we will take the hat out along with a couple of other silly hats and pass them out to the crowd. As the crowd is dancing, they will wear them and pass them around, it’s fun!”
The band’s beginnings are as laid back as the name. In April 2013, longtime friends and musicians, Craig and Troy started putting this talented band together. Having played together as a Worship Team at church, they knew right where to commence.
Garrett and Darren joined them and the band began building a song list. A few short months later in July, Esteban’s Hat made its first appearance at a pool party in Troy’s neighborhood. After their debut, the group began searching for club gigs. In the beginning, finding places to play was a challenge because no one had heard of them.
“Once a couple of clubs let us play, then the word got out, and it became easy to book after that,” Craig said. “We now have a website that has audio, video, pictures and testimonials of people we have played for. So we have all that on our website, which makes it easy when we hand out our business cards or just a web address. They can check us out onestebanshat.com.”
Of course, musical talent like this usually doesn’t develop overnight. This artistic group’s craft dates back to their youth. Newest member Ashton holds a Bachelor’s degree in Music. “I gigged in college. I’m originally from North Carolina, so after I graduated, I was teaching music fulltime. I was gigging almost every weekend; I was playing regional symphonies. I was playing for a rock band where we opened for ZZ Top and Styx, plus I was doing free-lance stuff for theater musicals. This is pretty much all I know. It was fun, but not enough to make a living on. I decided I wanted to play for a living instead of teaching, so I joined the Army. I can still play and have a steady paycheck,” the drummer defined.
Troy holds a Bachelor’s degree in Music as well. His musical stirring occurred in elementary school with the learning of the saxophone. “I started on the sax, got braces and wasn’t able to play anymore, so I got a guitar and have been playing ever since. I played in the clubs in high school and Young Country was the first band I played in,” the savvy guitarist said.
With his Bachelor’s degree in Music, vocalist Darrin Harrison began his musical findings in his later teenage years.
“My Dad wanted me to play Bluegrass, and so he got me a guitar. I was always a singer and so I never really learned the bluegrass licks but I learned to sing. I would just play chords and sing. That’s how I got started,” he said.
Darrin began to sing at his church, Pooler First Baptist, where he was a choir member for many years. “The choir director, told me I may have a talent to lead music and encouraged me to attend Armstrong, enroll in music. This is where I got my formal training started, going through their music program. While I was there, we started a band called 8 Mile Bend.”
Craig Brewer put down the trumpet he played in his high school marching band and decided to go the path of bass guitar. He too plays with his worship team at Savannah Christian with Ashton. The guitarist also was a member of the band 8 Mile Bend along with his other musical companions.
And last but certainly not least, there is Garrett, another lead vocalist for the group. Garrett has played the drums since grade school and joined the Christian band Zero Hour in 1985, having played with them for ten years. Before joining Esteban’s Hat, Garrett shared, “I haven’t done anything musically for quite a while, just playing with my church.” Also on his resume is being the face of Fox Kids here locally when he was a youth.
Making sweet music has become a release and is all fun for the members.
“We all get along and we are truly blessed,” Craig shared.
“It’s nice to just hang out and put smiles on people’s faces as we do it,” Ashton said.
According to Troy, “This is the first band I’ve ever been in that it is fun. Even if we have a bad night, it’s still a good time.”
Esteban’s Hat is a cover band that has been stamping its name on the club scene for the past three years, and its song list includes rock, funk, jazz, new and old country. Although they have not been playing too many clubs lately, they have been keeping busy with weddings and private events. This fun and light hearted group of musicians are like a bowl of mixed fruit. Separately, they are different, with unique backgrounds; however when they are thrown together, it’s a perfect mix. And to think it all started with a simple little black bolero hat.