The Railsplitters right on track to set benchmark for bluegrass after Spalding show

The Railsplitters are, from left, Dusty Rider, Christine King, Pete Sharpe, Lauren Stovall and Leslie Ziegler.  Photo by Woodruff Laputka.
The Railsplitters are, from left, Dusty Rider, Christine King, Pete Sharpe, Lauren Stovall and Leslie Ziegler. Photo by Woodruff Laputka.
  • South Holland Centre stages a night to savour courtesy of Colorado-based musicians

CONCERT REVIEW: The Railsplitters at South Holland Centre, Spalding

Rarely, if ever, has a group of musicians endeared themselves so instantly to an audience as The Railsplitters did in Spalding on Thursday.

It’s fun to let the music take you where it’s going to take you and not pushing so far back as to not let the music do its thing

Lauren Stovall, lead vocalist of The Railsplitters

The sheer warmth and energy of lead vocalist Lauren Stovall, mandolin player Pete Sharpe, upright bass player Leslie Ziegler, fiddler Christine King and banjo man Dusty Rider transmitted itself throughout the town’s main arts venue.

The Railsplitters, Unconventional Bluegrass from Boulder, Colorado

But the band’s daring experimentation with American bluegrass music can only be seen in true context when you consider that out of the quintet, only Mississippi-bred Lauren has any connections with America’s Deep South, generally regarded as the basin of bluegrass.

Lauren said: “We have influences from all over (the USA) and I think that shines in the music a little bit.

“We all definitely bring different ideas to the arrangements which creates a sound that is not quite like what people picture in their minds.

“In the States, there is what we called the Bluegrass Police who are sticklers for the traditional sound and we really love the traditional sound of bluegrass.

“We have been extremely influenced by that, but we do come from different backgrounds and we all grew up listening to different types of music.

“So it’s fun to let the music take you where it’s going to take you and not pushing so far back as to not let the music do its thing.

“For the most part, we’ve had a really good response from the crowd but every once in a while we have somebody in the crowd who doesn’t appreciate what we’re doing.”

That was most certainly not the case on Thursday when The Railsplitters treated their audience to a solar system of songs from their two albums, The Railsplitters and The Faster It Goes.

From the intriguing named Tilt-a-Whirl, Goosetown and cover of the Buddy Holly and the Crickets hit Oh Boy, to the contemplative Planted on the Ground, My World and Woodstock Festival-sounding The Estuary. The Railsplitters never put a foot wrong all night.

Lauren said: “We respect the roots of bluegrass music but it’s fun to progress and we’re all pretty progressive thinkers and pretty liberal-minded as it is.

“It’s fun to see the next generation of bluegrass music and there are lot of different bands out there, doing different versions of it, which keeps it interesting for us.

“Bluegrass is something that sort of disappeared amongst the younger generation for a handful of years.

“But lately, because there is this bluegrass, ‘New Grass’ scene going on, over the past ten to 15 years it has become more and more widely accepted by younger people.

“That’s why I don’t think it’s a bad thing to stray from the traditional style because while some people are sticklers for it, others have a tolerance for it.”

How many of the Spalding audience had experienced The Railsplitters during the three-week tour of the British Isles last summer is unknown.

But on the evidence of their debut performance in Spalding on Thursday, a very warm welcome awaits them if, or more likely when The Railsplitters return.

• If you want another chance to catch The Railsplitters, they are performing with at Roots Music Club, The Ukrainian Centre, 45 Beckett Road, Doncaster, next Friday at 7.30pm.

• Tickets priced £12 and £10 for concessions are available from the club by calling Jonti Willis on 07939 148603 or from Electro Music, 82 Copley Road, Doncaster, which can be called on 01302 369999.

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