Photo Caption: The Bloodroot's Barter
Fresh from the backwoods of Hyden, Ky., the "American-Mountain-Macabre" bluegrass band, The Bloodroot's Barter (BRB), moseyed around a music shop in Knoxville, Tenn., between shows on their current tour throughout the Appalachia area in preparation for their upcoming show and second visit to Athens.
"We (BRB) have really loved touring," said band member Laura Gregory. "I think the best thing about going everywhere is meeting awesome people along the way and creating connections and 'friendly zones' all over. The country almost seems smaller to us now."
The Bloodroot's Barter is playing tonight (Thursday) at Jackie O's Pub and Brewery with The Tillers and Rumpke Mountain Boys.
BRB started in February 2010 in a cabin in the southeast Kentucky woods, not far from such evocative place names as Hazard and Harlan, Ky. They were creating "moonshine-derived" music, and have now recorded two full-length albums. The band includes Laura Gregory, Ishi Wooton, Tyler Emery and Casey Papendieck.
"I never had a plan before this band, and now I never want to stop," said Wooton I play music with three other people I am completely in love with; I couldn't ask for anything more," said Wooton. "We have already made it to a point further than we could have imagined.It feels like a dream."
Their albums are "CH3OH," the actual chemical name for methanol, and "The Secret That's Becoming." Both albums reflect the band's distinct collaboration of instruments that sets the band apart from other bluegrass outfits and allows one of their multiple marks to be left on stage after a performance. However, they differ in meaning.
"Our first album is more raw and original because we made it before we began touring," said Papendiek. "The second seems to be more of a true representation and cultivation of what we do now and who we have become as a band."
While the band hasn't been together very long, one might guess they're a veteran outfit based on their musical talent and versatility.
"We are proud of the music we have created and continue to create," said Gregory. "We feel that a live performance is necessary for the full experience of our band and the best way to get to know us and who we are."
A typical BRB performance consists of a spontaneous rotation of the various instruments, including mandolin, guitar, tenor banjo, kazoo, weather radio, upright bass, accordion, violin, fiddle and washboard, to name a few.
"People seem to love our instrument changes during our live shows," said Gregory. "Sometimes we end up rotating in the middle of songs and we all sing, so it ends up becoming this perfectly meshed concoction of music and entertainment."
Additionally, BRB loves to incorporate other forms of art into their live shows in order to engage multiple levels of senses in the audience through theatrics and visual props, according to band member Tyler Emery.
"We are really passionate about art and creativity in all its forms," he said. "We see it as a form of expression for ourselves, and we want our audiences to feel that, too. You can't separate life and art and music, and our band is a representation of that."
Emery explained where the band's unusual name came from.
"It's a good representation of all of us together," he said. "The words of the name sounded good together, and I think it all hit us in different ways when it was brought to the table. It is an artistic and musical statement for us."
The name is also fitting of the band's birthplace because the bloodroot plant has always been a signature economic staple of Kentucky, and the band felt that "barter" was an appropriate word choice because it's not about the money, but the exchange of their music for the audience's enjoyment, according to Emery.
"The bloodroot used to be a source of trade and income for Kentucky residents in the mountains," he said. "We thought it made sense since that's where our music is created, and we want to be fluent with the way we interact with the world."
"We are especially excited about coming to Athens because of the bands we are playing with and the audience we will be playing for," Emery added. "There is such an open-minded atmosphere in Athens for our music, and we hope it goes over as well as it did last time for us."