Annabelle Road: Country Rockers Achieve Just About Everything But a Record Deal

Often, Detroit area bands form, gain reasonable attention locally and then life gets in the way, causing them to slowly fall apart.

Recently, I spoke to singet Amanda Bailey of Annabelle Road, a country-rock band that seems to be an exception. It has been together since 2007 and has achieved a lot, though not yet a record deal.

They quartet has played local shows, at music theaters, at major festivals and even private shows alongside some of the country’s top country acts. 

Tonight (July 24), they play at 10 p.m. at One Under Bar, 35780 5 Mile Road in Livinoa. 

DD: What are Annabelle Road’s summer plans?

AB: We’ve got a really busy schedule this summer, tons of outdoor shows. We’re going to be in the Metro Detroit area quite a bit, and also on the west side of the state. A couple of the band members moved to that side, so it’s opened the door for us to play new places. We’ve also got a couple of big things happening, that we have not been able to announce, yet. So, I hope everyone checks out our website,, and we’ll share the news with them when it’s time.

DD: You’ve played a wide variety of venues and types of shows. What’s the best show to play? 

AB: The best shows are the ones where music lovers show up. We’ve played shows like Faster Horses, which is one of the biggest music festivals and where tons of people show up. Those shows are an absolute dream come true. But, we’ve also done music in the park type shows,  that were almost rained out. The people who came out, braved the weather and had fun because they love music. I feel like I’m almost more grateful in those situations.

DD: Half the band lives on the other side of the state. Half the band lives on this side of the state. There are many weekend where you have multiple shows in the metro-Detroit area. You all have day jobs. How do you handle such a crazy schedule?!

AB: At this point, the hectic schedule is all we know. I don’t really know how to be productive unless we’re super, super busy. When we were in our early 20s, it seemed really fun to be running all over the place. As we’ve gotten older, our schedule has gotten even crazier, and I’m glad it was as busy as it was early on. It definitely prepared and groomed us for what’s happening now.

Jeremy Temple and I, the guitar player in the band, are married and are actually the ones who moved to the west side of Michigan.  It’s now become very common for us to get up at 5:30 in the morning, go to work, leave work an hour early, drive two hours, set up a show, play a show, tear it down, drive two hours to get home and do it again the next day.  Our families have helped us a ton. They watch our pets. They let us crash at their place. We have a big team of people who help make this happen.

DD: There’s one girl and three boys in Annabelle Road. Three out of four of you are related. Tell me about that dynamic.

AB: It’s hysterical.  The unrelated one is bassist Mike Zahler, our newest member, who has been buddies with all of us for years. We are constantly quoting one-liners from our favorite movies. People that walk by and hear our conversations probably think we’re crazy. I think that’s probably why we can keep the schedule that we keep, because we just have fun. When we didn’t have shows over the winter, instead of hanging out at home, we looked for pathetic excuses to get together because we missed each other.

[Editor's note: The fourth member is drummer Donovan Tarjeft.]

DD: During the 8 years that Annabelle Road has been an active band playing shows, a lot of other bands are formed and fallen apart for a variety of reasons. What’s your secret to keeping everything going?

AB: It’s definitely a passion. Three out of the 4 people in the band are related. I shouldn’t say never we never get sick of each other, but we know how to deal with it when we do. Our families are always at the shows, which makes it feel less like work, and a lot more fun. We do take some time off during the winter which is when we have some down time to prepare for the summer. I think it is really important to have that balance, otherwise you do get burnt out. Music is something we love, and we don’t want that to change. Also, as things have changed for us, we’ve become a little more selective with what shows we want to drive across the state for.

DD: What’s the biggest change that’s happened for the band since 2007?

AB: I would say the biggest thing that has changed for us is our confidence and maturity level. Also, we now have a real understanding of what drives us and makes us happy. I think in the beginning, we thought what would make us happy was to constantly catch that next big fish, to get that bigger show, or the bigger festival, or to get a record deal. The more we did it the more we realized, we’re just happy playing music. Of course, if the next big thing happened, we would be absolutely ecstatic but we’ve had so many incredible blessings and opportunities happen that I’m never going to look back and think what if? We’ve really done it all other than getting that national label behind us. In this whole process, if that’s the only thing that’s driving you, you’re in it for the wrong reasons.

Despite not having that record deal, we’ve been invited into people’s lives on a personal level. We’ve had people come up to us after shows and say, “We want you to play our wedding! We want your song to be our first dance.” I’ve also had people come up and say to us, “We met at your concert two years ago. We got married. Now, we have a baby and we named her Annabelle.” And we’re like, “What?! That’s crazy!” Learning that what we do, which we don’t always think is a big deal, is actually a big deal to some people has been really inspiring. It shapes what we’re doing, why we’re doing it and the heart that it’s coming from.

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