Bluegrass music fans gathered last Friday night for performances by The Whiskey Trio, Fast Food Junkies and Mountain Sprout at the Granada Theatre, 807 Commercial St. The show began with a solo guitar performance by Thomas Silkman, senior integrated studies major.
Silkman opened his debut live performance with a song he called “Bagpipes.” Silkman recently won first place in finger-style guitar at the Kansas State 32nd Fingerstyle Competition in Lawrence (See article on Page 1).
The Whiskey Trio consists of bassist Josh Thuma, guitarist Eric Nelson and lead singer Megan Nelson. All three members lived in Emporia for 10 years before relocating to Lenexa. Thuma said the band comes back to play a show in Emporia “every couple months.”
Eric Nelson said Split Lip Rayfield, Truckstop Honeymoon and the Del McCurry Band are the biggest musical influences on the trio.
“Playing in Emporia is awesome,” Eric Nelson said. “We’re glad people came out to support live music here. We really want to see more live music in Emporia.”
Megan Nelson said Emporia State opera director Penny Speedie influenced her singing style.
“She taught me how to use my voice as an instrument,” Megan Nelson said. “It’s awesome to see everything happening in downtown Emporia. Not every small town has all this. There’s definitely something special going on here.”
Fast Food Junkies consists of Rob Stewart on upright bass, Landon Unruh on banjo and Clinton Snyder on acoustic guitar.
“We don’t call what we play ‘bluegrass,’” Snyder said. “We just play the music we like on the type of instruments you find in bluegrass music.”
The trio released their recently completed fourth album on the night of the show. The album, “Your Dying Day,” was recorded at Ninth Ward Picking Parlor in Lawrence. Snyder said the band formed in 2004, in his and Unruh’s hometown of McPherson, and they have “toured at least two thirds of the continental United States.”
Mountain Sprout hails from Eureka Springs, Ark., and consists of Grayson Van Sickle on banjo, Blayne Thiebaud on violin, Adam Waggs on acoustic guitar and Daniel Redmond on upright bass.
“We evolved from a street band that Grayson was part of in New Orleans,” Waggs said. “The band in its current name and form started back in 2008.”
Van Sickle said, like Fast Food Junkies, they don’t call their sound “bluegrass,” but prefer referring to themselves as a “chin hair band.”
The band played a range of songs from the six albums they have released over the last four years, but Redmond said most of Saturday night’s set came from their most recent release, “The Best of the Beans.”