Scranton based folk/bluegrass band The Dishonest Fiddlers releasing new record “The Whistle Missed The Train” with series of live performances
When The Dishonest Fiddlers perform the bluegrass standard “Dark Hollow,” upright bass player Ron Penska makes a train whistle sound during the chorus. After the band traveled to New York City to record their debut LP and Penska failed to make a connecting train on the return trip, the album’s name was born.
The Whistle Missed The Train is the inaugural studio effort by the Scranton based folk-bluegrass band, and they’ve planned a series of performances in conjunction with its release. The quartet will play at 10 p.m. March 11 at the Keys in Scranton, 4 p.m. March 13 at Arlo’s Tavern in Union Dale and 7 p.m. March 18 at The Cooperage Project in Honesdale.
Songwriter Dave Brown said the band planned three album release shows so they didn’t have to alienate any potential audience members. The March 11 show at The Keys has a $5 cover and fans must be 21 to enter, but the show at Arlo’s has no cover and is open to all ages, and The Cooperage Project welcomes all and asks only for donations.
Brown is an Orson native who now resides in Scranton, and he got his start playing solo at Arlo’s open mics. Collaborating with guitarist Patrick Casper, multi-instrumentalist Josh Kulick and bass player — and train whistle — Penska made him realize the time was right to record, Brown said.
“This is our first opportunity to record stuff that has been accumulating for years and years,” Brown said. “The songs have evolved. The sound has really gotten tight.”
Some of the songs on the album are five years old, Brown said.
“I think the fact that I still like them now is an even better reason to record them,” he said.
Although he wasn’t raised on bluegrass, Brown said he fell in love with the style as soon as he heard it.
“What I’m influenced by is old music, the songwriters of the ‘60’s,” Brown said. “I’ve been learning bluegrass music ever since I had bluegrass guys to play with.”
Brown’s songwriting style combines an appreciation for music that came before him and a desire to speak in the parlance of today.
“I think the sound of it is inspired by that old timey sort of sound, and the content is more current, to a degree,” Brown said. “I’m trying to be relevant with current things. I think the whole concept of folk music is to write things that anybody can identify with, no matter what your status or where you’re coming from.”
Implicit in that philosophy for Brown is a focus on simplicity in his creative efforts.
“If you can just not rely on some fancy guitar line, and you can have some words and three chords and still grab the people’s attention the same way that you would with all the special effects, then you’ve done something,” Brown said. “That, to me, is folk music. It’s something where I can give you the words and give you the chords, and you can play the same song.”
Brown’s affinity for universal themes is apparent in the singles, “There Ain’t Enough Water in the Water,” which tells a hopeful story in the face of down-on-your-luck circumstances through the guise of several characters, and “Criss Cross Country Blues,” a nomadic tale of love on the road.
Brown said the upcoming shows feature a combination of songs from the album, other originals from the Fiddlers’ catalogue and their take on classic bluegrass and folk staples.
“I’ve probably got about 20 songs that we’ll play that are original songs at the show,” Brown said. “Then we fit in traditional songs, which we have our own twist on.”
Brown is excited about the release of The Whistle Missed The Train and grateful to have the opportunity to play his songs for live audiences, but as passionate as he is about making music, his perspectives are as humble as his creative intentions.
“I can’t wait to play for new people,” Brown said. “If I get two people that are listening, and they’re into it … I’m happy. Any opportunity to do what we want to do … we get off that way. I’ve been always feeling like there was going to be some aspect of music that I found some part in. Whatever it turns out to be, I’m always going to be doing something with it.”
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or [email protected]
If you go:
What: The Dishonest Fiddlers album release shows
Where: March 11 at The Keys, 244 Penn Ave., Scranton; March 13 at Arlo’s Tavern, 10340 State Route 171, Union Dale; March 18 at The Cooperage Project, 1030 Main St., Honesdale.
When: 10 p.m. March 11 at The Keys, 4 p.m. March 13 at Arlo’s Tavern, 7 p.m. March 18 at The Cooperage Project