The Way Down Wanderers
Live At The Ludlow Garage, 342 Ludlow Ave, Cincinnati, OH
8pm, Buy Tickets
In the few short years since banding together in 2013, The Way Down Wanderers have combined to create something special. The band’s infectious lyrics and soulful voices reach far beyond their years, creating commanding tones and insistent harmonies, next on display on their new full-length, self-titled album on July 15, 2016.
Recorded at Sonic Ranch in Texas, produced by The Avett Brothers’ Mike Marsh, engineered by Grammy Award winning Jerry Ordonez and mixed by multiple-Grammy winner Neil Cappellino, the album also features appearances by Michael Duchette (accordion on “Silver Days”) and Old Crow Medicine Show’s Critter Fuqua. The collection contains 12 vibrant songs ranging from ballads with a surprise twist -“The Way I Love You”- to driving bluegrass reels -“Dead Birds”- and folk rock stories of the road -“Blacktop Highway.” The band quickly hits its stride in the rollicking blend of fiddle, mandolin, guitar, banjo, and drum, creating folky-bluegrass blends reminiscent of Nickel Creek or Old Crow Medicine Show.
Natives of Peoria, Illinois, Austin Thompson and Collin Krause, affectionately dubbed “baby Dylan” and “baby Neil Young,” respectively by their producer, met up first, and the rest of the band – John Williams on bass and vocals, John Merikoski on drums and percussion, Travis Kowalsky on banjo – would follow. They’ve gathered a large and dedicated fan base, selling more than 15,000 copies of their first two EPs, with more than 200,000 live streams.
There’s a wisdom in the songs that extends beyond the writers’ youth, that fans and critics alike are noticing – the band is already a finalist in the International Song Writing Competition, 2015, for “Dead Birds” – they expertly craft tales of the joys and sorrows of love, the losses and hopes of life, and the anxious uncertainty of anticipation. It’s the closeness to their fans that is a large part of what keeps them writing and making music.
“Somebody on the road will tell us that a song or some lyrics got them through a life situation, or helped them in some way,” Merikoski said. What’s really exciting and gratifying, Williams points out, is that at “lots of our shows the crowd is singing back to us. The first time I heard it I was overwhelmed; they know our songs.”
The Way Down Wanderers take their connection to fans a step further with roadside shows they affectionately call restSTOMPS. Traveling in an RV, they are able to stop along tour routes and play acoustic sets. They announce the mile marker, exit number and meeting time on social media and their fans are usually there waiting when the RV pulls in.
“For our first rest stop show, a bunch of supporters showed up; they brought their kids and danced in the parking lot; one guy even brought us produce,” Thompson said.
The band will tour extensively to support the new album – with rest STOMPs along the way.