Trout Steak Revival: America’s Next Great Bluegrass Band

Posted by Greg on Mar 13, 2018 in Music |

There’s a long tradition of Colorado bluegrass, one that stretches back decades. Whether its early adopters Hot Rize, stalwarts Leftover Salmon and Yonder Mountain String Band, jam-band hybrid String Cheese Incident or the more recent addition of The Railsplitters, the Rocky Mountain State has produced some of the best the genre has to offer.

After their near-perfect 90 minute set in Celebration, FL this past weekend, Trout Steak Revival might just be that next great Colorado bluegrass torch-bearer. And yet, something about the performance felt transcendent, definitive, impacting, iconic. From the very first note of set opener “Spirit” to the set’s riveting closer “Fall At Your Feet,” the quintet and their sound felt much bigger than just Colorado. Come to think of it, Trout Steak Revival just might be one of America’s finest bluegrass outfits.

Much of the 90-minute set was culled from the band’s most recent effort, Spirit To the Sea, which was produced by The Infamous Stringdusters‘ Chris Pandolfi and was released this past fall to widespread acclaim. Though they are technically a bluegrass outfit, the band’s five gifted musicians deftly blend folk, indie and roots into a truly dynamic Americana sound. With each band member taking turns on lead vocals, the set had a depth and a wisdom that belied the band’s years.

Songs like “The Light,” “Take Heart” and “Fall At Your Feet” have a genuine passion, an inherent authenticity and a magnetism that seems destined for AAA radio and beyond. Add a kick drum and each of these songs might push the band into another category altogether. That’s what made the set so darn compelling. Of the 17 songs played, more than half were sweetly affecting, all of them were expertly played and another half were catchy as all get out. Add in three and four part harmonies and the entire thing felt like witnessing Old Crow Medicine Show or The Avett Brothers for the first time.

Fiddle player Bevin Foley was without flaw and her tender ballads were worth remembering. “Go On” felt like a long lost Carter Family b-side while “Loving is Leaving” sounded like 1990s Allison Krauss. Bassist Casey Houlihan offered up one of the best country songs you’ll likely to hear this year in the tender valentine “You Are Not Alone,” while five-string banjo player Travis McNamara’s soaring “I Am” feels like something The Lumineers might have written. Fully aware that they were in the Sunshine State, mandolin player Steve Foltz stepped to the mic and offered a rendition of Tom Petty’s “Learning to Fly” that absolutely warrants a proper studio release. Arguably one of the strongest facets of the set was the emergence of Will Koster’s dobro which added another dimension to the latter half of the set, namely Bevin Foley’s “Side of the Road,” a paean to tackling adversity head-on. That very point is what makes Trout Steak Revival so engaging. Much of their material is born from personal loss and tragedy, giving their set a gripping realness that is impossible to forget.

Formed in 2008, the band’s hard work finally seems to be paying off. In 2013 they, received an Emmy Award for a Rocky Mountain PBS soundtrack they scored, won the
2014 Telluride Bluegrass Festival Band Competition, and were nominated as a 2016 Momentum Band of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association. Most recently they played 2017’s prestigious AmericanaFest in Nashville and recently attended this year’s Folk Alliance to their canon as well. Playing almost 120 shows a year, the band resumes its busy touring schedule on March 23rd at Mystic Hot Springs in Monroe, UT. Should the band find themselves in your town, cancel your plans and rush on over. You will most assuredly not be disappointed.

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