By Matt Wickstrom
For the second time in three years Cincinnati’s pride and joy, Rumpke Mountain Boys, will return to the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, Florida for the 20th annual Suwannee Springfest to cut a ribbon on festival season.
The Queen City four-piece is comprised of Adam Copeland on guitar, Ben Gourley on mandolin, J.D. Westmoreland on stand-up bass, and Jason Wolf on banjo. They’ll be riding the waves of success of January’s “High Time, Low Tide” down to Florida, the group’s third studio release. The record was produced at Soap Floats Recording on Cincinnati’s eastern side with the help of Ben Cochran, who also lent a his expertise to Rumpke’s debut album, “Trashgrass”.
“High Time, Low Tide” excels in illustrating the diversity of the Rumpke Mountain Boys, which features fast-picking jams and slowed-down melodic escapades. The diversity stems from all four band members being singer-songwriters. According to mandolinist Ben Gourley, everyone’s varying styles and influences sometimes make it seem as if they’re a part of four different bands.
Copeland says he has a high standard for his songs that appear on records. Two songs he composed, “Fourdinaire” and “Hempen Jig”, appear on “High Time, Low Tide”.
“If I keep a song it means I really liked it and couldn’t get it out of my own head, so I had to make it a full song”, said Copeland.
In the last year, Rumpke Mountain Boys have been road warriors, traveling throughout the midwest, east coast, and even stretching out west to perform. Last summer the group ventured out on a tour out west that ended at the monstrous Northwest String Summit, hosted by bluegrass mainstays Yonder Mountain String Band in North Plains, Oregon.
“You can’t play too much in the same place; spreading out is somewhat of a natural occurance”, said Gourley. “When you play as often as we do, you keep growing and branching out further and further into new areas.”
Following them every step of the way has been their passionate fan base, who have also taken it upon themselves to help Rumpke get into some of the summer’s most prestigious festivals. Fan-led groups on Facebook have campaigned for Cincinnati’s favorite bluegrass band, as voted on in the 2016 Cincinnati Entertainment Awards, to be added to the lineups for Suwannee Springfest, Delfest, and PBS’s Bluegrass Underground.
The fan’s voices have been heard regarding Springfest, as Rumpke will perform two sets and host a workshop during the March 17-20 celebration. On Friday, March 18, from 4-5pm the Rumpke Mountain Boys will be putting on a jamgrass workshop. According to guitarist Adam Copeland, the group was asked to host the workshop after Rob and Ronnie McCoury had to bow out due to scheduling conflicts.
“We’ll be giving our perspectives on how we do jamgrass, how we write songs, how we share the stage together and the dynamics of being in a band”, said Copeland.
Fans attending Suwannee Springfest can catch the Rumpke Mountain Boys from 9-10pm on Thursday, March 17, on the Porch Stage and from 1-2pm on Friday, March 18, on the Meadow Stage.
In addition to Trashgrass Tuesdays at Stanley’s Pub in Cincinnati, Kentucky trashgrass fans can catch Rumpke April 7 at Cosmic Charlie’s in Lexington and at Terrapin Hill Farm in Harrodsburg, Kentucky, throughout the summer, starting with the Cabin Fever Reliever, happening April 22-24.
To buy tickets for Suwannee Springfest or view the lineup, which features Keller Williams, Railroad Earth, Larry Keel Experience, Infamous Stringdusters, and many more, visit http://www.suwanneespringfest.com.
Stream “High Time, Low Tide” in its entirety on Youtube below, and check out another Suwannee Springfest preview featuring Horseshoes and Hand Grenades.