There is a certain feeling that a ‘traveling-through-town’ kind of band like The Bloodroots Barter gives you. They wander around, spreading their music; the kind of music that makes you stop and listen. You just can’t help but get entangled in their woodsy, worn, roots, southern vibe.
I experienced the casting of their spell this past summer and have made my way to meet them at their stops around the North Country ever since. I find myself, among other mountain-towners doing whatever it takes to make it back for more, much like they find themselves called to come back up north. We’re all craving good string music up here and they’re craving good people to play for.
The four-piece band traveled all the way up from Kentucky and hits every small-town with rusty whiskey drinkers on the way. They’d rather travel the back roads to get where they’re goin’ and their music tells that story. With a banjo, stand-up bass, accordion, guitar, fiddle, washboard, finger cymbals and a kazoo, these guys and gal bring a dusty old sound to your ears. They give out of the attic sights to your eyes and a one of a kind chemistry to the space you find yourself in. Their lyrics combined with their heavy southern accents take you to a place in the deep south and fill your ears with raspy verse. Who wouldn’t want that?
One might be tempted to call them bluegrass but they are certainly in a category of their own. They are Old Crow Whiskey fueled Kentucky bloodgrass. They strive to be more then a band, they put on a show. Lead vocalist Casey Papendieck says they “want to get into all the senses of their fans”. They’ve got costumes to match the music, props that play on their sound and home-made goods they bust out of an old trunk and lay across an antique table covered in lace.
I caught them in a little bar in the Adirondack Mountains on an eerie autumn night just this past week. The fiery season didn’t even prepare me for what was to come. Jack-o-lanterns were lit, whiskey was flowing and the wooden walls of the place were holding an array of characters with enough color to trick you into thinking you were in a dream. I felt like I stepped into a different time period as I watched them. I could not help but move in my boots; their creativity and madness inspires me to revel in my own. The company I brought along got their first taste of The Bloodroots Barter and did not stop dancing until too much drinkin’ happened upon them, even then there was toe-tappin’. But there is a balance in what they do. Just when you feel lost somewhere in the backwoods, they cover a song like “Freight Train” to get you feelin’ at home again.
The band travels with other merry music makers in which they seem to make appear on stage as if they pulled them out of their back pockets. When they all share that space together they make so much sound come off the stage, if there was a stage, for they do not require one, instead they share the floor with the crowd they create and we all blend as one big piece of constantly changing, colorful, moving art. We are all creating, we’re all a part of the show.
Then there is curiosity, and we wonder… where does such a name come from? What is it that they barter? I ask one of the music makers and find that it happens to be an herb, Bloodroot, a magical little herb of the south that blooms into a white flower and is traded for its healing powers much like music traded among musicians. And I realize, barters they are.
Learn more about this intriguing band at Bloodrootsbarter.com