Big House (band)

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Big House
OriginBakersfield, California, United States
Years active1994—2000, 2007—present
LabelsMCA Nashville, Dead Reckoning, Big House
MembersMonty Byrom
David Neuhauser
Chuck Seaton
Tanner Byrom
Ron Mitchell
Past membersBilly Russell
Benny Rappa
Steve Vines
Joe Cruz
Sonny California (deceased)

Big House is an American country music band based in Bakersfield, California. Grounded in the Bakersfield Sound, originally, the band consisted of Monty Byrom (lead vocals, guitar), David Neuhauser (guitar, keyboard), Chuck Seaton (guitar), Tanner Byrom (drums), Sonny California (harmonica), and Ron Mitchell (bass guitar). Under this lineup, Big House recorded two albums for MCA Nashville: 1997's Big House and 1998's Travelin' Kind. These two albums produced four chart singles on the Billboard country charts, including the No. 30 hit "Cold Outside."

After the release of their second album, all of the band's members departed except for Monty Byrom and David Neuhauser. Benny Rappa was then signed as the band's new drummer, and Steve Vines assumed the role of bass guitarist. The revamped lineup recorded one album for Dead Reckoning Records before disbanding in 2000. The six original members reunited for concerts in 2007 and 2008, and released a fourth album in 2008 Never Ending Train.


Although its six members (all natives of Bakersfield, California) had all performed together in various lineups, Big House was not officially formed until 1995, when brothers Monty and Tanner Byrom first performed with four other musicians at a venue in Oildale, California.[1][2] After realizing that they all seemed to work well together, the six musicians decided to form a band. Monty Byrom, who had previously penned hit singles for Eddie Money,[2] assumed the role of lead vocalist and guitarist, while Tanner served as drummer; the other four original members included harmonica player Roy Lackey (who assumed the stage name Sonny California),[2] bass guitarist Ron Mitchell, and guitarists David Neuhauser, Billy Russell and Chuck Seaton.[1]

Major-label debut[edit]

Throughout the 1990s, Big House played throughout their native state of California. They had also tried to make themselves known in Nashville, Tennessee. Big House was not well received by Nashville until Neuhauser suggested that the band submit a demo tape to Tony Brown, president of MCA Nashville Records.[1] A demo tape was sent to the label, and by 1997, the re-tooled demo tape was issued as the band's debut album, also titled Big House.[1][3][4] Three of the album's singles entered the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs charts, including "Cold Outside", which peaked at No. 30.[2] A second album, entitled Travelin' Kind, followed one year later; its lone single, "Faith", peaked at No. 63.

In 1998, the Academy of Country Music nominated Big House for the Top New Vocal Group or Duo award, alongside The Kinleys and The Lynns, losing to The Kinleys.

Membership changes and disbanding[edit]

After the release of their second album, however, most of Big House's members parted ways; Tanner Byrom, Ron Mitchell and Chuck Seaton returned home and joined with Billy Russell to form the band "Hot Taco". See:[2] Monty Byrom and Neuhauser then recruited Benny Rappa and Steve Vines, who took over on bass guitar and drums, respectively. The four-piece lineup recorded one album, Woodstock Nation, which was issued in 2000 on Dead Reckoning Records, an independent label owned by songwriters Kieran Kane and Kevin Welch.[5] Big House disbanded shortly afterward. The six original members reunited in 2007 and 2008 for concerts in Bakersfield at Buck Owens' Crystal Palace,[6] and released a fourth album in 2008, Never Ending Train.[7] In April 2017, Sonny California died in Las Vegas following a brief illness. [8]



Title Album details Peak chart
US Country US Heat
Big House 33 21
Travelin' Kind
  • Release date: May 19, 1998
  • Label: MCA Nashville
Woodstock Nation
Never Ending Train
  • Release date: December 5, 2008
  • Label: Big House Records
"—" denotes releases that did not chart


Year Single Peak chart
US Country CAN Country
1997 "Cold Outside" 30 16 Big House
"You Ain't Lonely Yet" 57 75
"Love Ain't Easy" 71
1998 "Faith" 63 Travelin' Kind
2000 "I'm Movin' On" Woodstock Nation
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Music videos[edit]

Year Video Director
1997 "Cold Outside" Jim Shea
"You Ain't Lonely Yet"
"Love Ain't Easy"
1998 "Faith"
2000 "I'm Movin' On" Robert Cuffley

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Organization Award Nominee/Work Result
1998 Academy of Country Music Awards Top New Vocal Group or Duo Big House Nominated


  1. ^ a b c d "Big House". Pollstar. 1997-06-02. Archived from the original on 2002-04-23. Retrieved 2007-12-30.
  2. ^ a b c d e Loyd, Erik (2006-07-26). "And the Big House band played on". The Bakersfield Californian. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2007-12-30.
  3. ^ Ankeny, Jason. "Big House biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2007-12-30.
  4. ^ Price, Robert. "Like a House Afire". The Bakersfield Californian. Archived from the original on October 19, 2006. Retrieved 2007-12-30.
  5. ^ "Western Beat Welcomes Bakersfield Rockers". CMT. 2000-08-12. Retrieved 2007-12-30.
  6. ^ Loyd, Erik (2007-03-22). "Big House packs Palace in Reunion". The Bakersfield Californian. Archived from the original on December 4, 2008. Retrieved 2007-12-30.
  7. ^ "Big House Records". Archived from the original on 2008-12-11. Retrieved 2008-11-30.
  8. ^ "MATT MUNOZ: Bakersfield remembers artist, prankster, music great".

External links[edit]