The Way Down Wanderers
The Way Down Wanderers 4:15 - 5:30 pm Eastern
Crowd-favorite, main-stage artists from the 2015 Folk Fest, The Way Down Wanderers return from Peoria, Illinois, the heartland of America. The band has toured extensively across the US, Canada, and the UK, performing an official showcase at the Americana Fest in Nashville, earning honors from American Roots UK (Top Albums of the Year List 2017), Songpickers' Best Songs Spotify Playlist (2016), and a finalist in the 2016 International Song Writing Competition.
Their distinctive, high-energy performances draw on elements of bluegrass, touching on classic rock influences like the multi-part harmonies of the Beach Boys, The Band’s hybrid soul, the roots qualities of The Avett Brothers and Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit—with surprising elements of jazz, classical, reggae, and hip-hop.
Their live shows are unique, communal experiences with acoustic encores sometimes taking place out in the audience and drummer Merikoski’s famous spoon solos. “We have a loyal and loving fan base,” says band member Collin Krause. “This is a pretty tight-knit group, and we make friends wherever we go. We’ll often end up staying overnight at fans’ houses. We really live off the generosity of strangers.”
The band’s two chief songwriters Austin Krause-Thompson (vocals and guitarist) and Krause (vocalist on mandolin, violin, and electric guitar) are joined by John Williams (vocals and upright base), John Merikoski (percussion), and Travis Kowalsky (banjo and fiddle). The Way Down Wanderers may sound like some long-forgotten bluegrass band from the Coens’ O Brother Where Art Thou (like that film’s Soggy Bottom Boys), but they prove to be much more than that on their latest album illusions, which addresses love, loss, and personal evolution. The album, exploring the tug of memories and the passage of time, set against the beauty and eternal clock of Mother Nature, delivers roots-influenced, rhythmically modern songs. Thematically steeped in folklore, illusions is also present and alive, penetrating heart, mind, and body with an island beat, a mid-song rap, and a closing Foggy Mountain Breakdown-style banjo.