If you love bluegrass and mountain music as much as I do, you probably won’t be able to stop yourself from playing Flight, the second album from Colorado’s Trout Steak Revival, on repeat. I know I can’t.
Sparked by jam sessions with close friends during backpacking trips and backyard parties, Trout Steak Revival formed in 2009. Amongst the cool clear streams and lakes in the Midwest Great Lakes region, where trout prosper, the band began to spawn and take flight. Colorado’s flourishing rootsy based mountain music scene beckoned and became home to Trout Steak Revival. Band members Steve Foltz (mandolin and guitar), Will Koster (dobro, guitar), Casey Houlihan (upright bass), Travis McNamara (banjo) and Bevin Foley (fiddle) follow in the bluegrass tradition, with each musician composing original tunes and adding harmonies.
With a blend of original songs and re-worked traditionals, Flight was released in the late fall of 2012. Band members share singing duties on the album, and it’s a great touch – they all have great voices, and it adds a lot of variety and gives them a unique sound. Beautiful harmonies combine with the lovely sounds of the fiddle, banjo, guitar, dobro, mandolin and standup bass throughout the album. There’s a great mix of fun, higher-energy songs like the strong opener Black Jack Supper Club and softer songs like Spinning Wheel, which might be my favourite song on the album. I love the whole album, which has this feel of being in the same room with the band as they play. It’s fun and makes me wish I could see them live. I don’t think this one will leave my CD player for a while.
The band was kind enough to answer a few questions from the road.
FB: How is Flight different from your first album?
Steve Foltz (SF): We have a different lineup on this album. On our first album, Kirk Ranney, who is no longer in the band, wrote most of the songs. Flight has Bevin Foley (fiddle/vocals) on it, and everyone contributes at least one song. It was also recorded in a different space than our first album, which gives it a different feel.
FB: How did you all come together as a band?
Casey Houlihan (CH): I met Steve in college at the University of Minnesota, and we both moved out to Colorado (CO) after we graduated … we knew we wanted to play music together, and it just took some time before we knew what that would look like. I met Will and Travis in Michigan at a summer camp we all worked at. Will moved out to CO after he was done with school at Indiana University. Travis had a couple more years of school at University of Puget Sound and then made it out here. We met Bevin when we were invited to play the first Green Beer and Bluegrass in Denver. She sat in with us that night, and we really enjoyed playing with her. It wasn’t until we asked her a few times that she decided to join TSR.
FB: What is it about bluegrass/mountain music that drew you all to playing this type of music and makes you want to keep playing it?
Travis McNamara (TM): I was drawn to the idea of constant improvement on my instrument … the endless search.
SF: For me, it’s the technical proficiency required.
CH: I love the instrumentation … even when we play songs that aren’t “bluegrass.”
Will Koster (WK): Beer.
FB: You haven’t been together as a band for all that long – how do you think you’ve grown in that time? And what you attribute that to?
Bevin Foley (BF): We challenge each other to improve at our instruments. We all attended the Rockygrass Academy this past summer and received constructive criticism from the Punch Brothers and the Infamous Stringdusters, which was really helpful. We’ve been gigging a lot … working on harmonies, collaborating on songwriting.
TM: We’re operating on the notion that the rising tide raises all boats.
SF: Travis, Casey and myself also took a songwriting class at Swallow Hill with Kyle James Hauser that was really fun and informative … We’ve also asserted ourselves in the community of bluegrass. Whether it’s going to bluegrass picks or going to shows … we’re trying to always be around.
FB: Do you have a favourite song on Flight? And why?
CH: Rude Awakening … ‘cause I wrote it! (laughter)
FB: Can you please explain where your name comes from?
WK: We we’re originally only gigging at the Bucksnort Saloon in Sphinx Park near Pine, CO. We were calling ourselves the South Platte River Ramblers because Casey and I were living down on the river at that time. We didn’t have a consistent lineup at that time and we weren’t sold on the name. The summer of 2008, we went backpacking in Eagle County. We brought fishing poles, a little bit of food, some brandy and a mandolin. It pretty much rained the whole time we were there, with the exception of a few hours. During the hours it rained, we passed the mandolin from tent to tent, playing/making up songs. We were also passing the brandy around … (laughter) … Then there was a break in the clouds and we got after it fishing …. we slayed it and had a feast … somewhere in the middle of that, we decided that Trout Steak Revival was a great name for our band … (laughter) … yup … it stuck.
FB: What do you hope people think when they think “Trout Steak Revival”?
TM: High energy, great songs, tons of fun.
FB: What is next for you – do you have any gigs/festivals coming up that you are especially looking forward to?
BF: We just got back from Big Sky Big Grass, which was a blast. Our summer is starting to fill up, which is exciting … [this] month, we have the third annual Green Beer and Bluegrass at the Walnut Room in Denver! Brewgrass (Denver, CO) in June is going to be sweet, and we’re heading to the Sioux River Folk Festival (Canton, SD) in August, where we have a bunch of friends.