The Way Down Wanderers’ Self-Titled Album: Make Your Heart Feel Light Again!

Editor’s Note:  Sooner than later, you will get to see our exclusive interview with Austin of The Way Down Wanderers.  In the meantime, I want you to experience this album with me! Check out The Way Down Wanderers at the following locations:  www.facebook.com/waydownwanderers, www.thewaydownwanderers.com , www.twitter.com/WayDownWanderer

To relive the good old days again.  Wait, I’m in the generation before the millenial generation.  I’m in the last generation that remembered what life was like without the Internet, without smartphones, and the like.  I remember making time for friends and loved ones.  The Way Down Wanderers take me back to that feeling of nostalgia of days that passed us by like that thief in the night.

Out of Peoria, Illinois is a quintet that is heavily influenced by bluegrass, elements of classic rock, and the old time troubadours where it was a simple, laidback, yet get you up and dancing out of your seat type of hoedown.  The Way Down Wanderers are composed of Austin Thompson on vocals/guitar, Collin Krause on vocals/mandolin/violin/electric guitar, John Williams on vocals/upright bass, John Merikoski on drums/percussion, and Travis Kowalsky on the banjo/fiddle.  The Way Down Wanderers display those feelings down to a science.  It makes us long for the good old days where people actually took time for each other instead of being glued to their computer screens and glued to the television set.  The days where a glass pitcher full of sweet tea was sitting on the table next to the ol’ porch swing.

The Way Down Wanderers is probably one of the most palatable indie-bands I have heard in a long time.  They mix that feel good bluegrass in songs such as “Dead Birds” into a beautiful country sonnet with the album cut “Silver Days”, where we long for when things were simple again and where life wasn’t so complicated.  The guitar picking and tempo changes are especially evident in “The Way I Love You Now”, which also offers those crowd pleasing moments while the progression is occurring in the music.  “Blacktop Highway” stands out as well for the storytelling and for the feel-good vibes in the music.

Another adamant strength of The Way Down Wanderers is their harmony, case in point the song “Wildfire”.  They do an amazing job of weaving a story of love and changing tempos in that song while incorporating such amazing harmony, while still having that foot-stomping, hand-clapping feel in their bluegrass nature.  It’s not the Mumford & Sons type of bluegrass, it has such a traditional feel to it, while making it sound as refreshing as sipping that glass of sweet tea on grandma’s porch swing.

Overall, this album, which was released independently on July 15th, 2016 is such a joy to listen to.  It was also produced by Mike Marsh of The Avett Brothers, which his vision gave The Way Down Wanderers a whole new dynamic in their sound, and it features appearances by Michael Duchette for “Silver Days” and Critter Fuqua of Old Crow Medicine Show. I give it a four-star rating for the diversity that The Way Down Wanderers incorporate in their musical arrangements, to the storytelling that provides for vivid imagery, to the harmonies that Austin and company provide in The Way Down Wanderers.  Here is the track listing below:

  1.  “Dead Birds”
  2.  “Sweet Morning Vision”
  3.  “New Day Dawning”
  4.  “Heading North”
  5.  “Circles”
  6.  “Hollow Man”
  7.  “Wildfire”
  8.  “Blacktop Highway”
  9.  “Changing”
  10.  “Silver Days”
  11.  “The Way I Love You Now”
  12.  “Midnight Flowers”

Here are their tour dates:

Tuesday, April 11th at Shrine Music Venue in New York, New York

Thursday, April 13th at Calliope Roots Cellar in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Friday, April 14th at Beachland Tavern in Cleveland, Ohio

Saturday, April 15th at Music at Riverdog in Wakeman, Ohio

Friday, April 28th at MoRoots Music Festival in Steelville, Missouri

Saturday, April 29th at The Old Feed Store in Cobden, Illinois

Friday, May 5th at Ignition Garage in Goshen, Indiana

Saturday, May 6th at Pattee Plaza in Monmouth, Illinois

Friday, May 12th at Mississippi Brewing Co. in Muscatine, Iowa

Saturday, May 13th at Stone City General Store in Anamosa, Iowa

Thursday, May 18th at RiverRoots Music & Folk Arts Festival in Madison, Indiana

Friday, May 19th at The Willowtree Coffeehouse and Music Room in Johnson City, Tennessee

Saturday, May 20th at Carolina Roots MusicFest in Statesville, North Carolina

Sunday, May 21st at Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, North Carolina

Friday, May 27th at Harmony Park in Clarks Grove, Minnesota

Check out the music video to “Wildfire” below:

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