VICTORIA — It started as a family thing.
Ronda Schweitzer always has enjoyed music, and her two children were surrounded by it from a young age. That eventually led to her children, Paul Roach and Christa Hougaard, learning to sing and play instruments.
About seven years ago, the family decided to take their music to the next step. They formed a local band, Kill Creek Rising based in Osborne, which today has six members and plays several gigs each month.
“We started just playing around the house, and it started out with us and the lead guitarist (JR Sloggett) playing at the farm,” Roach said. “And then we just decided maybe we should try to do this as a band and see if we can get some gigs. It bloomed from there.”
The band has relied mainly on word of mouth to spread publicity, and usually plays a few gigs each month. August has been especially busy with festivals, fairs and special events, such as last weekend’s Herzogfest in Victoria.
It was the band’s first time to play this particular festival, but the crowd was enthusiastic. At one point during Saturday night’s performance, Hougaard jumped off the stage to lead a group of adults and children in line dancing.
Roach is a self-taught bass player who now lives in Salina, while his sister sings, writes songs and plays guitar and tambourine.
“I actually didn’t think it was that abnormal to just be singing and have music going all the time,” Hougaard, Osborne, said of her upbringing. “That was just a pretty normal lifestyle for us.”
Another member of the band also developed a love of music at a young age. The band’s drummer of two years, Tristan Thompson, is only 14.
The Beloit resident started learning to play drums when he was only 7. He was in another band before joining Kill Creek Rising and says he plans to continue his music career through college. He credits his early interest in drumming to a relative who also played in a local band.
“I got up on the drum set once and ever since then, (I was hooked),” Thompson said.
Thompson played several drum solos throughout Saturday’s performance, including the crowd-favorite “Wipeout.”
Several members of the band are longtime local musicians who also play in another local band, Blackwater, which plays more heavy rock.
“We pretty much cover it all. Between the bands, we’ve pretty much got it covered,” Sloggett said.
“Polka’s about the only thing we don’t play,” he said, as the lively notes of a traditional German polka sounded in Victoria City Park during Saturday afternoon’s Herzogfest celebration.
Kill Creek Rising’s other member is Travis Cameron, vocals and lead guitar.
The two-day event is one of the largest free festivals in Kansas and offers concerts, a Polka Mass, car show, an outdoor market and children’s activities.
While Kill Creek Rising has original songs, they mostly play covers from a variety of genres. Saturday’s nearly two-hour concert offered a blend of country, rock, oldies and pop. They don’t limit their selections to a certain influence, but strive to play what the audience wants to hear.
“It’s like scrolling across the radio dial is what we’ve always said,” said Schweitzer, who is also the band leader.
Schweitzer started singing at church as a child, and that love of music has stayed with her.
“I’d say Mom is a musical influence,” Roach said. “She got us all started.”