The Devon Worley Band is rocking it.
What do Willie Nelson, Led Zeppelin, Eric Church, Miranda Lambert and Heart all have in common? Yes, they all have the letter “E” in their names. No, that’s not the answer.
The answer is that Plymouth’s Devon Worley, lead singer for the Devon Worley Band, counts each of the above performers and bands as inspirations. In fact, the band’s most recent release covering Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song is one of their highest charting singles to date.
But one standout single doesn’t mean the Devon Worley Band only specializes in covers. “We like a good cover as much as the next guy, but we’re 100 percent an original band,” Worley says.
In fact, the Devon Worley Band has recorded three original albums and is close to dropping a fourth. It has also opened for Lynyrd Skynyrd and Bush, toured Scotland and England and performed at Minneapolis’ 7th St. Entry, a venue connected to the iconic First Avenue.
It’s music, according to Worley, is described as some country, some Minneapolis funk, some rock and some heavy stuff. “No matter what it sounds like, it’s us,” Worley says. “We actively move away from genres and play and write what we like.”
At just 24 years old, Worley has been sitting in with bands for as long as she can remember. The Devon Worley Band started when she was just 13 years old. Simultaneously, she performed with the Minnesota Opera Children’s Chorus. “I was in the Children’s Chorus from fourth grade to my junior year of high school,” she says. “The things I learned singing, I carry into every performance today.”
When asked for specifics, Worley talks of muscle memory and the ability to sing and perform for long periods of time. “I learned how to act like a professional,” she says. “I remember in the fourth grade, when I performed at the Ordway. The manager said I deserved to be there and if
I didn’t act like it, I wouldn’t be there anymore.”
Band Member Breakdown
Today, Worley fronts her all-time favorite band. “It’s not just me, it’s a band,” she says. “We’re a team. We write together, and we play together.”
Worley plays guitar and the piano, plus she sings.
On lead guitar is Jason Medvec. Before his current nine-year stint with the Devon Worley Band, he toured the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia and India over the course of three years with the Bay City Rollers.
Bass player Twigg has toured the world with Pharrell Williams’ band, N.E.R.D., and he’s performed on Saturday Night Live. He’s also shared the stage with Justin Timberlake. He’s played in the Devon Worley Band for two years.
Grant Thelen supplies background vocals and occasionally lead vocals. He also plays drums, harmonica and trumpet, sometimes all at once. Although he can’t play the trumpet and harmonica simultaneously, he can bang the drum with one hand and blast the trumpet with the other. Thelen has played with the Devon Worley Band for seven years.
The Devon Worley Band’s writing process is total collaboration. Medvec writes a lot of the music. Worley pens a lot of the lyrics. Twigg and Thelen do both. “After we finish writing, we’ll play it and play it some more,” Worley says. “Our audience gets the final say. If something isn’t working, they’ll let us know.”
Like many bands, the Devon Worley Band makes hay during the festival season, which typically runs May through October. “That’s when you play to the biggest crowds,” Devon says. “It’s when you make the most money.”
As an example, the band played the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally last August.
Venue work follows festival work, and it can last from early November until whenever. “We’re not so high and mighty that we can pick and choose,” Worley says.
Actually, their manager (and Devon Worley’s mom) Jamey Worley does some picking and choosing. “We have to at least cover our expenses,” Jamey says.
What have been the band’s favorite shows?
“My all-time favorite is the time we opened for Lynyrd Skynyrd,” Worley says. “Our [7th St. Entry] debut was pretty great too. It’s where we got one of our best reviews.”
“We played at a Wendy’s. They even let us run the Frosty machine,” Worley says.
Jamey mentions a show that they nearly walked away from in England. “It was smaller and different,” she says. “During the day, the place where the band was going to play served as a homeless shelter. At night, it was a pub. I knew what [the band] was thinking, and I was in panic mode.”
The band stayed calm and carried on, and gave one of their best shows ever. “You definitely can’t judge a book by its cover,” Worley says. “That little place became so packed you could barely walk.”
Worley’s biggest takeaway was the audience’s politeness. “They were weirdly polite,” she says. “They’d stop and stare during the performance and then clap profusely for about eight seconds when it ended. You’d start the next song and they’d stare again.”
Worley had never seen such focused attention. “Here, you work hard to gain someone’s attention. There, they just give it to you,” she says.
Lastly, Jamey brings up a reoccurring show they do in Colorado. “Devon and Jason both struggle with altitude,” Jamey says. “Not only did the medic in one of the festival tents know that, he had an IV drip ready for both.”
Before administering, he chastised the two for being soft. “He said we were a bunch of flatlanders,” Worley says.
Ironic, since the Devon Worley Band is a band on the rise.
B.B. King famously named his Gibson guitar Lucille. Jimi Hendrix christened his favorite Fender Stratocaster Izabella. They did so for different reasons.
“You give guitars and buses names,” Worley says. “If you treat them well and talk to them like real people, they’ll treat you well. If you don’t, they get testy.”
A testy guitar won’t stay in tune. A testy bus might just break down on the side of the road.
“I have two guitars now,” Worley says. “Taylor is a bit full of herself and King Louie is a gentleman.”
In the past, Worley tagged her guitars with “old lady” names. “I had a Mabel and I had an Ethyl. They were fun to talk to,” she says.
The formal name for Devon Worley Band’s tour bus is Apollo, but they call her Polly for short. “She’s the prettiest girl in the world,” Worley says.
Apollo, err, Polly, has a heck of a back story. The band bought her from a man named Doug Peterson, who bought her from country artist Candy Coburn. “Candy used the bus on the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure Tour,” Worley says.
In a small-world moment, Peterson told Worley that he bought the bus from Coburn after her tour. “We opened for one of her shows,” Worley says.
That’s not where the story ends.
Care to guess who used the bus before Coburn?
The 12-bunk sleeper served as the crew bus for The Wiggles; in its heyday, one of the most popular children’s musical groups in the world.
Fruit Salad, Yummy Yummy!
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