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Thursday, October 3, 2019, 4:00 AM

The Way Down Wanderers are from the very heartland of America central Illinois, Peoria, to be exact which is reflected in their distinctive sound, which draws on elements of bluegrass, but also touches on classic rock influences including the multi-part harmonies of the Beach Boys and The Bands hybrid soul, as well as the roots qualities of The Avett Brothers and Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, with surprising elements of jazz, classical music and even hip-hop.The bands self-released sophomore album, illusions, follows their self-titled 2016 debut, a pair of EPs and Live at the Old Rock House. Produced, engineered and mixed by Grammy winner David Schiffman, who has worked with an eclectic batch of artists from Johnny Cash and HAIM to System of a Down and Rage Against the Machine, at L.A.s Sargent Studios and Chicagos Shirk Studios, the new effort finds the band collaborating and exchanging ideas to further distinguish their unique sound.The bands two chief songwriters Austin Krause-Thompson and Collin Krause have known each other for six years now, starting when Austin was 19 and Collin 15, and while they each write separately, this time around there was much more working in tandem.Were so much more used to working with each other now, says Austin, who recently married Collins older sister, making them brothers-in-law. Collin and I are really getting a feel for one another, the way we write together.The Way Down Wanderers may sound like some long-forgotten bluegrass band from the Coens O Brother Where Art Thou (like that films Soggy Bottom Boys), but they prove to be much more than that on illusions, which they describe as about love, loss and personal evolution. Indeed, the album explores the tug of memories and the passage of time, set against the eternal clock of Mother Nature, delivered in roots-influenced songs that are also rhythmically modern. And while illusions may be thematically steeped in past folklore, it is also present and alive in a way that jumps off these digital/vinyl tracks to penetrate heart, mind and body.The track All My Words perfectly illustrates The Way Down Wanderers distinctive approach, combining a reggae/island beat, a mid-song rap and a closing Foggy Mountain Breakdown-style banjo deal to deliver a song that Austin describes as trying to be creative when you just dont feel it. There are elements of Cripple Creek in Heartland, a love song written by Collin for his fiance, Beach Boys vocals in the jazzy, dreamy title track and a Bo Diddley tribal stomp to Shes Alright, while Crooked Pines and Moonglow Carolina compare the magnificence of natural beauty to personal emotion.One of the things that inspires my songwriting is nature and natural things in a metaphorical way, explains Austin. We see the most amazing sites as we drive through America, like Niagara Falls, which was pretty cool.And while the pop dance groove of Patient Pretender reads like a love song from Austin to his now-wife, its actually about the couple adopting a stray puppy off the snowy streets of Chicago. Old Ford details how friendships evolve through the years, and how sometimes you just have to let go to move forward. The album opener, Principles of Salt, is the only non-original on the record, penned by their good friend, Indianapolis singer/songwriter Joshua Powell.Id like to think were taking some risks, says Collin about the new album, pointing out there is more electric guitar and keyboards (mostly from ex-Jellyfish/Imperial Drag member Roger Manning). We love so many different types of music, but American roots and bluegrass will obviously continue to inspire us as writers.When the two main songwriters first met, the classically trained, high, lonesome crooner Collin was picking bluegrass mandolin and fiddle in a Dylan-esque folk band dubbed Something with Trees, while Austin was the drummer in a rock group. Jazz percussionist John Merikoski and classical upright bassist John Williams soon joined, with banjo player Travis

Cost: $12 adv/$15 dos
Tickets: http://www.awin1.com/cread.php?awinmid=7219&awinaffid=137486&clickref=&p=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.stubhub.com%2Fthe-way-down-wanderers-tickets-the-way-down-wanderers-charlotte-free-range-brewing-10-2-2019%2Fevent%2F104273886%2F

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2320 N. Davidson St.
Charlotte, NC 28205

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