A couple weeks ago, not long after we launched this site, we got a crazy idea. Wouldn’t it be cool to share videos of bluegrass artists sharing Christmas music, we thought. Maybe gather recordings and put together a compilation that could be downloaded for a charitable cause.
Of course trying to put together any kind of recording project that quick was out of the question. But what if we could get artists to make simple videos to share as a holiday treat for bluegrass music lovers.
We quickly seized upon the idea of The 12 Days of Bluegrass, with a different song for each day. But could we pull it off in the time we had? (To be honest, we won’t know for sure until we get all their videos, but we do have 12 great artists committed!)
Noticing Matt Thomas had the little green light after his name on Facebook, I shot the bass player for Man About a Horse a message to see what he thought of the idea.
“I gotta say, this is a pretty great way to kick off your new blog,” was Matt’s reply. Matt also lined up one of our other artists who you will meet on another day.
That is why Man About a Horse gets the honor of kicking off our series with this bluegrass infused cover of William Bell’s “Every Day Will Be Like A Holiday.” (See William Bell perform the original here).
It was almost two years ago we first saw Man About a Horse. Then a quartet, the Philly based foursome blazed through a set opening for an alt-country band at The Abbey Bar in Harrisburg, with a rollicking set of originals and clever bluegrass covers.
If memory serves me correctly, it was Matt who, between their set and the headliner, first introduced us to the name “Bluegrass Coffee” to describe our bourbon infused caffeine (or was it caffeine infused bourbon}. Anyhow, Man About a Horse will be back at The Abbey Bar on Friday night, joining Colebrook Road for an early holiday bluegrass treat (TICKETS HERE).
Things will be different this time. The band now has five members, though fiddler Liz Carlson will not be along for this gig. She is currently on maternity leave.
The four guys coming to the party stag are original members bass player Matt Thomas and guitarist Matt “Roy” Royles, and a couple newcomers. New to the lineup since they came to Harrisburg last is Dan Whitener, or “Danjo” as Thomas has taken to calling the band’s new banjo picker, and madnolin player Matt Hiller.
Whitener joined the band after answering a Craig’s List ad they had placed in search of a replacement for original banjo player Julian Root, who moved to Guatemala. This is his traditional bluegrass gig. He also plays banjo in the hip-hop-bluegrass mashup unit Gangstagrass.
Lest you doubt his musical chops, Whitener actually has two music degrees, including a masters in vocal conducting. That doesn’t have a lot to do with bluegrass, but it’s the sort of thing you feel compelled to mention.
Whitener is a helluva banjo player. He also writes a good share of the band’s original tunes. Royles, who shares lead vocal duties with Whitener on most of the songs, and Thomas also share in the songwriting.
Their originals are catchy. You can read our review of their recently released CD here. They also have a knack for unique covers. The first time we saw them, they knocked us out with a bluegrass Last Kiss. On their recent Cd they cover Hall and Oates and Radiohead.
The newest addition to the Man About a Horse lineup is Hiller, formerly of the old Coaltown Rounders. Hiller replaced the band’s former mandolin player Nate Lanzino after Lanzino decided the logistics of living in Baltimore and playing in a Philly based band just did not work. Nothing against Lanzino, but Hiller is a great addition to this lineup.
There guys are good. That has been recognized by crowds who have seen them at the Charm City Bluegrass Festival and the Philadelphia Folk Festival. For some reason, though, they don’t play out anywhere near as regular as a lot of bands.
Thomas says that will be changing in the new year. And Whitener reports they are currently working on winter/spring bookings. But for now, you’ll want to see them at The Abbey Bar. Their next currently scheduled date is not until April 28, when they will open for Jeff Austin Band at the 8X10 Club in Baltimore for the Charm City Bluegrass Festival late night after party.