Loading Events

WDVX Summer Nights – 7/10 – Po Ramblin’ Boys / Wyatt Ellis and Alex Leach

July 10 @ 7:00 pm

Event Navigation

At a time when most people feel constantly distracted by technology and barraged by the news, authenticity and straightforward honesty are paramount. There’s something about the music of The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys that cuts right through the noise of the world and speaks plainly to the soul. Formed in the Smoky Mountains, The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys are at once exactly what you would expect and not at all what you would expect from a tattooed East Tennessee Bluegrass outfit. No strangers to hard work, the boys are as much at home riding in their restored Eagle tour bus as they are crawling underneath to fix it when it needs maintenance. But they take pride in being ambassadors of their genre, and the group has brought their music from rural bluegrass festival stages to the rock clubs of Europe, and even the GRAMMY Red Carpet, with stunning results. “I think to a certain extent everyone is just craving music that they can feel, and any music that feels real will reach any audience” says CJ Lewandowski, the groups founder, “We want to put bluegrass right where it’s least expected”. Perhaps this mindset is why the group earned the title of Emerging Artist of the Year at the 2018 IBMA Awards.

In 2014, Lewandowski was working at Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery in Sevierville, TN when the band first formed. The distillery employed musicians to play for visitors seven days a week, and Lewandowski, who primarily plays Mandolin and sings, was occasionally hired to fill in when the entertainment didn’t show. Eventually, the distillery approached him about forming a band for a full time slot, so he reached out to long time music friends Jereme Brown, who plays banjo for the group, and Josh Rinkel, who plays guitar. “Jereme was doing a lot of welding work at that time, and Josh was running a sign company”, says Lewandowski, “I think we were all ready to do something new, something with our music but we didn’t know when or how”. Bassist Jasper Lorentzen happened to be working in the tasting room at the distillery, and he turned out to be the perfect addition to the band. The four friends played multiple times a week for a year and half, honing their band sound, meanwhile word was spreading about their music. “The first gig we played out of town was a festival in Alberta, Canada, and a week later we went on a two week tour of Europe, it was crazy”, says Lewandowski. In 2020, the finishing touch, the cherry on top if you will, was added to the quartet. Laura Orshaw, a seasoned fiddle player and singer joined the Boys after contributing her talents to the Sound Biscuit Productions’ full Gospel album, “God’s Love is So Divine” and “Toils, Tears, & Trouble.” On the addition C.J. exclaims “after 5 1/2 together as a four piece, we needed that perfect fit that would not only fit us on stage and recording, but a personality that would add to the band and be a part of the family we have created. Laura was that person and we can’t think of anyone else that fits our music and our family better than her. The show has benefitted so much from Laura and the chemistry we have between the now 5 of us.”

Material for the group’s freshman Rounder Records album “Toil, Tears & Trouble,” was a combination of original songs and old numbers that honor the group’s mentors and bluegrass heroes. “We love to dig up old songs that haven’t been heard in years and bring them back into the spotlight”, explains Lewandowski. In fact, two of those gems on the Rounder album, “Next Train South” and “Hickory, Walnut & Pine,” were nominated for IBMA Song of the Year along with “Next Train South” taking the trophy for SPBGMA same category in 2020. The momentum of “Toil, Tears & Trouble” has continued to grow with the band’s first GRAMMY Nomination for Best Bluegrass Album.
The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys passion for bluegrass is as clear as it is contagious. With a heavy touring schedule across the United States and Europe and recent Grammy Nomination with Rounder Records, the Boys are well on their way to becoming the quintessential bluegrass band of their generation. Despite all of their recent success, they maintain a humble perspective. “Bluegrass has left such a mark on us that we feel like we owe something back to the music”, says Lewandowski. “We want to do something for the music to show our appreciation… There’s no telling what could have happened to us, what we would have become if we hadn’t found this music. It’s gotten us through a lot, the good and the bad. When I think about all of the damn medications that I didn’t have to take because I had music to turn to. We didn’t have to go to the doctor and pay for something to make us feel better, because we had this music, so we really want to honor it by bringing it out of the shadows and onto new stages and wider audiences. Because we know that if we can bring Bluegrass to new folks, those folks will come with us and support the bluegrass community.”

Alex Leach and the eponymous band he fronts are joining contemporaries like Billy Strings in redefining what modern roots music and bluegrass are through originality and a purposeful evolution away from long held stereotypes. Alex and his band are a multi-talented bunch who bring exceptional musicianship and high energy to any stage they play. As Bluegrass Today reported, “It’s little wonder why Alex Leach has emerged to the forefront of today’s young up-and-coming bluegrass vanguard. He and his band possess the skill and savvy needed to go all the way. Their set lists are flush with all the exuberance one might hope to find in a young outfit with such obvious ability and affinity for the form.”

Alex is back in the studio now, working on his next project which will feature all original songs that takes the acoustic music of the traditional bluegrass and Americana world that he grew up with and moves it into the future, featuring his signature ‘new traditional’ sound.

Born not far from the Great Smoky Mountains, Wyatt Ellis‘ first recollection of hearing the mandolin was Bobby Osborne’s iconic solo on the Osborne Brothers’ bluegrass classic “Rocky Top.” Hearing the Tennessee bluegrass anthem echo throughout the early years of his childhood is what led Wyatt to set his sights on learning to play mandolin. With his schedule packed with school, Boy Scouts and team sports, it was hard to find time for music.

When he was almost 10 years old, Wyatt talked his dad into buying him a used mandolin so he could learn to play it just like Bobby. Soon, he began weekly mandolin lessons in his hometown and quickly developed a strong desire to attend local bluegrass jams. He told his non-musical parents that he wanted to play his new mandolin alongside other bluegrass pickers.

The COVID lockdown began just as he was forging those real-life musical friendships. Team sports, local lessons and bluegrass jams came to an abrupt end. At the same time, festivals and in-person recording sessions suddenly stopped, parking the most in-demand bluegrass musicians at home. Many of his favorite mandolin players started teaching or simply spending more time connecting within the community online.

In the fall of 2020, Wyatt was chosen by his hero Sierra Hull, herself a former mandolin prodigy, for a Tennessee Folklife apprenticeship. Eager to improve under the watch of a true virtuoso, Wyatt describes those one-on-one tutorials as “working on exactly what I needed to work on at the time. Details. Timing. Tone. Getting all the little things right by slowing down was a really big deal in that situation. Sierra has taken bluegrass mandolin to another dimension and I was excited to start my journey with her. I’ve played my mandolin every day since then.”

Having never been a fan of watching television or playing video games, playing mandolin became Wyatt’s preferred pastime. With no close neighbors and the music world suddenly at his fingertips, his passion for the instrument grew. As word circulated in the bluegrass community about his accelerated abilities, Wyatt befriended many of the genre’s top mandolin players through camps, workshops, and individual lessons.

In October 2022, Wyatt performed alongside former Bluegrass Boy Peter Rowan and Grammy winner Molly Tuttle at Rowan’s induction into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame. Wyatt was invited by his ultimate mandolin hero, Marty Stuart, to help kick off the Grand-Reopening of the Ellis Theater in Philadelphia, Mississippi. In February 2023, at 13 years old, he made his Grand Ole Opry debut appearance with bluegrass duo Dailey & Vincent. Moments after his debut appearance he was jamming backstage with acoustic icons Vince Gill and Mark O’Connor. In March 2023, Wyatt joined the genre’s newest superstar, Billy Strings, to honor Doc Watson at his 100th birthday celebration. The now fourteen-year-old was recently invited to play the iconic Merlefest event Mandolin Mania with five of his mandolin heroes.

As a young musician just starting out on his musical journey, Wyatt has found that the bluegrass community is full of supporters, kind words, and encouragement. He has accrued more than 100,000 followers on combined social media before ever releasing a single.

 

Make plans to join us for the entire concert series with:

August 14Martha Spencer’s Wonderland Country Band / Five Mile Mountain Road

September 11Amanda Anne Platt and the HoneycuttersSam Quinn’s Cartwright Brothers

October 9The Tim O’Brien Band / The Songs from the Road Band

WDVX Summer Nights supported by ORNL Federal Credit Union and Yee Haw Brewing Company.

Details

Date:
July 10
Time:
7:00 pm
Event Categories:
,

Venue

Yee Haw Brewing Co
745 N Broadway
Knoxville, TN 37917 United States
+ Google Map
Phone:
(865) 210-8862
Website:
View Venue Website

Organizer

WDVX
Phone:
865-544-1029
Email:
info@wdvx.com
Website:
View Organizer Website