By Aaron Ploof
For The Herald Bulletin
Who doesn’t love good old folk music? The Stampede String Band brings it with a modern, fresh twist this Friday to the Vogue Theatre in Broad Ripple. Band members Kyle Buck, Aaron Nicely and John Bahler take the stage that night appealing to their listeners with modern folk music and bluegrass played with honesty and energy.
“It’s a matter of honesty, and it’s a matter of realism versus fantasy,” said Buck, the founder of the band. “I think people, when they turn on their iPods or CD players, they want to escape from the now and they want to be where everything makes sense. Folk music makes sense to people. I think its relatability and its honesty is what really separates it from the modern tone, from the (Taylor Swifts and the Justin Biebers).”
The trio’s unique sound relies on their voices as well as their instruments, including bass, mandolin, guitar and harmonica.
The group’s seeds were planted in March 2011, when Buck placed an ad on Craigslist while in search of a rock ’n’ roll band with which he could “jam.” Nicely found Buck’s post, and the two met at the Anderson Steak n’ Shake where they bonded over fast food. Bahler, who was a graduate assistant at Ball State University, eventually joined the duo when he was approached by Nicely. By April 2012, the trio had officially formed their band.
“After we started, we never looked back,” Nicely said.
Buck said the group settled on the name, The Stampede String Band, because both he and Nicely had roots in the rock ’n’ roll genre. “The word ‘stampede’ brings to mind horses running in a pasture” he said, observing that the image evokes both rock ’n’ roll and the old-time country feel.
The members of the band all have a strong background in music and their own inspirations. Nicely grew up playing the saxophone and cites Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers as one of his favorite bands, Bahler owes his love of music to his parents and Canadian musician Gordon Lightfoot. Buck grew up just outside of Moonsville, where folk music and small-town living are at the heart of everyday life.
“You can’t beat small-town Americans,” Buck said. “They’re the greatest because everybody knows everybody. In a small town, it’s almost like the ‘Cheers’ atmosphere, where everybody knows your name.”
That sense of community was what characterized the band’s most memorable road trip.
“We performed in Nashville, Tenn., in an out-of-the-way coffee shop called The Night Owl Beading Café. It was a very intimate setting ... and when we played, we knew that whatever the audience responded with would be their honest opinion. Everyone loved it.”
Nicely added, “We met these people who hosted a worship service there ... and we were able to play off-the-cuff gospel songs. It was a very unique experience for us.”
The group hopes to have a similarly enjoyable experience when they perform their bluegrass magic on Friday night. They’re playing the entirety of their new album “Moonsville,” and will be accompanied by fellow bands Whipstich Sallies and James and the Drifters. They’ll also be playing at the Morel Mushroom Festival in Morgantown on April 20. For more information, check the band’s official Facebook page, simply titled, The Stampede String Band.