All the things you’ve wanted to know about The Petersens
And probably more….
How did The Petersens become a bluegrass band?
This is one of our most common questions. Growing up with our dad in the Air Force, we moved every two or three years when he was stationed at a different base. So we wouldn’t keep changing schools, our mom homeschooled us and as we traveled around the country we were able to go see different historical sights. While we were at the Gettysburg Battlefield there was also a bluegrass festival going on. Our mom grew up listening to bluegrass as her dad was a big fan and that festival changed our lives. Dad saw families sitting around playing music together and not watching TV or playing video games and decided our family would also become a bluegrass band! He bought Ellen a banjo at that festival and the rest is history…..
What kind of instruments do The Petersens play?
Katie plays a Sigman LAS five-string violin, Ellen plays a Hopkins DHP banjo, Matt plays a Collings D1ATSB guitar, Julianne plays an Eastman MD915 mandolin, Emmett plays a Scheerhorn dobro, and mom plays an Englehardt EM1 bass.
How did each of you choose your instrument?
Each of the Petersen siblings had to take piano lessons at age 7. After two years of piano, we were allowed to choose another instrument. Katie at age 9 chose the violin and started taking classical lessons weekly. Ellen at age 9 chose the drums. You can assume how that turned out. Matt at age 9 chose the guitar and also took classical lessons.
When Dad decided we would become a bluegrass band, he enrolled Katie in “fiddle boot camp” (yes, that is a thing) and Matt switched to taking flatpicking lessons. Because the guitar is such a crucial instrument in a bluegrass band, dad held down the fort until Matt was solid on his rhythm. Because there are no drums in bluegrass, dad bought Ellen a banjo. She started taking lessons and mostly learned from reading tablature in instruction books. Mom picked up the mandolin and Julianne chose to learn the violin so she could be like her awesome big sister, Katie. Julianne switched to the mandolin in 2015 when the band went full-time.
How many instruments do The Petersens play?
Katie plays the most instruments of the band. Other than the fiddle, she plays piano, ukulele, and also learned the pipe organ while in college.
Julianne plays mandolin, fiddle and piano.
Ellen plays just enough guitar to get by on chords for a few songs in the show, but by no means considers herself a guitar player. Banjo is pretty much it, folks.
Matt primarily plays guitar, but he can get by on the stand up bass. He backs Katie up on The Ring Song very well.
Emmett started out on the harmonica but eventually found the dobro and hasn’t looked back since.
Mom plays stand up bass SO WELL!! She also plays the mandolin and trumpet and started us all out on piano.
Dad plays the piano, guitar, bass, saxophone, and *drum roll please* KEYTAR, which is everything you think it is.
What religion are The Petersens?
Our family is Christian. Our dad grew up going to a Presbyterian church in Charleston, WV and our mom grew up going to First Christian Church in Mountain Grove, MO. Moving around in the Air Force we always sought churches that were 100% following God’s Word. We have been Methodist, baptist, Christian Missionary Alliance, non-denominational, and our parents even helped start a church while stationed in Florida.
How often do The Petersens practice?
We have two band rehearsals a week and one morning where we have individual practice time. We have three live shows a week in Branson so that keeps us pretty tight on the majority of our songs. If we have a new album or a major video shoot coming up we add rehearsals as needed.
How do you decide who is going to sing lead for each song?
We all have very different voices so usually it doesn’t take much thought on who naturally fits the feel of the song the best. It also depends on where in the show the song will go, who brought the song to the band, and (if we have to sing in a particular key) whose voice falls in that range.
Who arranges your songs?
After we decide we are going to learn a song, the vocalist chooses the key and Katie comes up with a basic layout/arrangement and mom helps create a chord chart. The band plays through the song together and then we talk through different options. Emmett comes up with a lot of counter melodies and creative arrangements for our group.
Are Katie Petersen and Emmett Franz dating?
Will Katie Petersen marry me?
Will Julianne Petersen marry me?
Is Ellen going to join The Haygoods?
Is Ellen going to leave the group now that she is married?
Do we have any other siblings that we hide from the public?
Are The Petersens Mormon?
How tall are The Petersens?
Why on earth is this a common question?! Somewhere between 5 and 7 feet tall 😉
How old are The Petersens?
Katie was born in 1990, Ellen was born in 1992, Matt was born in 1994, and Julianne was born in 2001.
Where is The Petersens’ dad?
In Branson rocking out with us in the gospel show.
Will The Petersens come tour in my country?
Wonderful questions and the answer is WE HOPE SO! We had a couple of international tours in the works before everything shut down in 2020. The best way to get our family to come tour your country is to find a promoter who knows venues and the market and have them reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will post international tour schedules and tour dates in the United States here on our website. You can also sign up for our email list where we send an occasional updated tour schedule.
How did Emmett Franz join The Petersens? Is he planning on staying with your band?
Emmett grew up playing music with his family, The Franz Family, and my goodness if you haven’t watched any videos of them they are FANTASTIC! As the Franz kids grew up, got married, and started having families of their own, Emmett began touring with other artists. After a couple years of traveling, he wanted to find more local gigs and ran across some videos of The Petersens. He sent a message to our Facebook page in January of 2017 and asked if we would be interested in a dobro player. Ellen (yes, hi, that’s me) replied and said that The Petersens did not need any more players at the time. (I JUST DIDN’T KNOW, PLEASE DON’T HATE ME.)
That summer Julianne and mom went to bluegrass camp leaving Ellen, Katie, and Matt to do the shows on their own. The band needed another instrumentalist to help cover for the shows and we remembered Emmett and reached out to him. He was absolutely incredible. We hired him again later that fall when we released our album, Shenandoah, and in 2018 we asked him to join us full-time.
Emmett plans on joining us next year and we will have him as long as he is willing. He’s truly part of the family now.
Is music your full-time job or do you have other jobs as well?
This is it, folks. It may not seem like much when you just see videos flash across your screen once a week or come to see us play a live show, but there are so many behind the scenes things we do that we don’t have time for much else.
Katie still teaches music lessons on the side and Julianne is currently in college, but the rest of us make our living purely through The Petersens.
Who do The Petersens listen to?
Here are some of the artists that we enjoy listening to and have influenced us.
- Alison Krauss
- Cody Fry
- Ben Rector
- Emily Hearn
- Noah Gundersen
- Relient K
- Jerry Douglas
- James Taylor
- Roger Miller
- Merle Haggard
- Keith Whitley
- Patsy Cline
- Joey + Rory
- Lee Ann Womack
- John Denver