By Matt Wickstrom
Fresh off the release of their new EP ‘Cut & Run’, Belleville, Illinois’ Old Salt Union helped christen the new Willie’s Locally Known in Lexington, now located on Southland Drive on the old Show Me’s lot. They were joined by Nashville duo Sally and George; Houston’s Whiskey Shivers and Lexington’s own The Wooks.
Along with bluegrass music, there was an abundance of bourbon, basketball, and free barbecue available to patrons who quickly filled the venue to capacity for the soft opening. At one point a line developed outside of people waiting to get in. The new Willie’s Locally Known officially re-opens on April 1.
Old Salt Union formed in 2012 just outside of St. Louis. The quintet is led by Jesse Faraar on upright bass, Ryan Murphey on banjo, Dustin Eiskant on acoustic guitar, John Brighton on mandolin and fiddle and Justin Wallace on mandolin.
“As people we’ve learned to work together pretty well”, said Faraar. “We’ve worked out all the kinks and know which buttons to push and which not to push. It’s becoming a lot more copacetic these days.”
Drawing upon the blues and soul influences present in St. Louis, Old Salt Union has developed an energetic yet soothing sound that will leave you jumping up and down one moment and slow dancing with your special someone the next.
“In the last five years or so there’s been an emergence of bluegrass and folk bands in the St. Louis area”, said Eiskant. “The competition has helped us to improve, distinguish ourselves and get us out on the road.”
Friday night Old Salt Union returned to St. Louis for a release show for their ‘Cut & Run’ EP at The Old Rock House. According to Murphey, the show conjured up memories of the band’s first album release party in 2012 for their record ‘Western Skies’ at The Gramophone in St. Louis, which had a capacity of 250 people, compared to around 600 for the most recent album release.
Coinciding with last week’s release of ‘Cut & Run’ the Old Salt Union boys released the official music video for their first single off the EP, titled ‘Feel My Love’. The tune was written by Wallace on the mandolin, and is about being away from those you love, waiting to be reunited once again.
“It’s a story that rings a little too true for us these days”, said Faraar. “We’re gone nine months out of the year. This year alone we’ve slept in our own beds for maybe a week or two. The subject matter of the song can resonate with just about anyone, not just musicians.”
This summer Old Salt Union will return to ROMP festival in Owensboro from June 22-25 alongside Sam Bush, the Del McCoury Band, Infamous Stringdusters, Lee Ann Womack and other outstanding artists. Last year the group made their ROMP debut, performing late night on the cabin stage in front of a jubilant crowd of rowdy fans.
“ROMP was a blast last year”, said Faraar. “We closed out the festival, so everyone partied with us for one last ‘hoorah’ before the weekend came to a close. We can’t wait to do it all over again this summer!”
A bright summer of opportunity lies ahead for Old Salt Union. The group has upcoming dates with Sam Bush and Faraar will be joining members of Yonder Mountain String Band, Infamous Stringdusters and Leftover Salmon in Denver on April 17 for ‘Pickin on Cancer’, a benefit for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The group has also recently performed with Jeff Austin and the Travelin’ McCourys.
This is our year of putting our best foot forward”, said Faraar. “We didn’t release a lot of music last year, so we’re releasing a lot this year. We’re trying to stay fresh all year long, not in terms of showering but in terms of music.”