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We are The Petersens. A family band that performs American roots music that lifts you up and brings us all closer together.

Meet the Family Band From Branson

Our band consists of the four kids (Katie, Ellen, Matt, and Julianne), mom and dad (Karen and Jon), and our dear friend and honorary Petersen, Emmett Franz.

Our Music is Like One Big Welcome Mat

So make yourself at home.

If you’re looking for some encouragement in a chaotic world and an escape from the busy-ness and stress of everyday life, you’ve come to the right place.

Let’s Get to Know One Another a Little Better

Everything you wanted to know about our family.

How did The Petersens become a bluegrass band?

We get this one a lot. Growing up with our dad in the Air Force, we moved every two or three years. 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?

Great question! 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 a Byrl dobro, and mom plays an Englehardt EM1 bass at home and a Chadwick foldup bass on the road.

How did each of you choose your instrument?

Each of the Petersen siblings got to take piano lessons at age 7. After two years of piano, we could try another instrument. When she was 9, Katie chose the violin and started taking classical lessons weekly. When Ellen turned 9 she chose the drums and made quite the joyful noise. Matt picked up the guitar, took classical lessons, and while he didn’t enjoy them, kept it up.  

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 which suited him much better. 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 mastered it.

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.

Is music your full-time gig 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.

What religion are The Petersens?

Our family is Christian. Our dad grew up going to a Presbyterian church in Charleston, West Virginia and our mom grew up going to First Christian Church in Mountain Grove, Missouri. 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.

Our family currently attends First Baptist Church Branson where Katie frequently serves on the worship team. Feel free to tune in with us online any Sunday!

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.

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 info@petersens.com.

Are Katie Petersen and Emmett Franz dating?

No.

Will Katie Petersen marry me?

No.

Will Julianne Petersen marry me?

No.

Is Ellen going to join The Haygoods?

No.

Is Ellen going to leave the group now that she is married?

No.

Are there other Petersen siblings who aren’t in the band?

No. This is not a Jonas Brothers situation.

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 is an honorary Petersen at this point and we are so thankful he is a part of our family.

Want to Really Get to Know Us?

Come to one of our shows! Each one is an unforgettable experience full of music, laughter, and good times.

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