- The High and Wides — Marc Dykeman, Nate Grower, Mike Buccino, and Sam Guthridge. Photo by Walter Bowie
The High & Wides celebrate the release of their second album, “Seven True Stories”, on Friday the 13th of December at the Garfield Center in Chestertown. It’s an event any follower of the local music scene will want to be part of.
The band includes guitarist Marc Dykeman, banjo/mandolin player Sam Guthridge, fiddler Nate Grower, and bassist Michael Buccino. “Seven True Stories” was recorded and mixed entirely in Kent County, and produced without studio enhancements other than vocal overdubs. The band wrote on their website, “Some of our favorite material on this project was neither performed nor rehearsed by the full band before our recording sessions, but came together through trial and error, both in front of live mics and while taking breaks outside to enjoy the stillness of Maryland’s Eastern Shore.” That spontaneous feeling comes across in the finished product.
Dykeman, Guthridge, and Grower got their start with the well-received bluegrass band Chester River Runoff, which made its mark with festival and club appearances all across the mid-Atlantic music scene. When the Runoff disbanded in 2014, three members formed the High and Wides, with Dykeman moving from bass to guitar and Buccino joining on string bass. All the band members except Grower are Washington College alumni, and the sleeves for the CD and vinyl album covers were made and printed at the college’s Rose O’Neill Literary House. They are truly our local boys!
But while the new band was based on the standard bluegrass instrumentation of 5-string banjo, fiddle, acoustic guitar, and string bass, their music draws on a wider range of influences, from old-time country sounds to more contemporary music. And despite its deep roots, the music is very much a product of the 21st century, with a sophisticated harmonic range, subtle structures, and thought-provoking lyrics. Their initial album, “Lifted,” which debuted on the Billboard Top Ten in the bluegrass category, marked the High and Wides as a group with an original vision and language. The Washington Post called them “the apostles of hillbilly boogie,” and famed guitarist David Bromberg praised “Lifted” as “quietly revolutionary.” The new album carries on that revolution.
All the numbers on “Seven True Stories” are originals except for the traditional fiddle tune “Sally Anne” which is used as a coda to “Place No Stone.” As Buccino noted in a press release for the album, “The songs all are all rooted in a sense of place, based on stories both genuine and apocryphal.” The story of a man in Western Maryland who was inspired to create a replica of Noah’s ark gave rise to the song of that name. And the discovery of a skull – apparently the victim of an unsolved murder – on a Kent County beach was the inspiration for “Head on the Shore.” Other songs take on more universal themes; “Place No Stone” is about growing up; “Reverie” is about daydreaming. Three instrumentals bring the total number of songs to 11. (Does that suggest one of the stories might not be true? Give a listen and decide for yourself.)
The album release show at the Garfield begins at 8 p.m. – the doors open at 7. Admission is $16 in advance, $20 at the door. Copies of the album – CD or vinyl – will be available for purchase. Call the Garfield theater at 410-810-2060 or visit www.garfieldcenter.org for additional information or ticket reservations.
If you miss this Friday’s event (or if you just can’t get enough of the High and Wides and want to see them again!), the band have scheduled the following release concerts in addition to the Garfield concert:
Saturday, 12/14, 7 p.m. – The Rockstop, Dover, Del.
Sunday, 12/15, 12 noon — Heritage, Philadelphia Pa.
Tuesday, 12/17, 7:30 p.m. – Tonal Park, Washington DC/Takoma Park Md.
Thursday, 12/19, 7:30 p.m. – Creative Alliance, Baltimore, Md.