Intrepid Travelers announce lineup change, dates for IT Fest IV

Buffalo’s Intrepid Travelers welcome two new members to the band, saxophonist Ellen Pieroni (Folkfaces) and bassist Zak Beutel, who join the already stellar IT lineup of Donny Frauenhofer (keys, vocals), Brian Calisto (guitar, vocals) and Jon Fohl (drums, vocals).

intrepid travelers
photo by Sam Murray

Pieroni shared her thoughts on joining Intrepid Travelers:

I’ve considered myself to be IT fam for the better half of the 5+ years Donny and I have been dating. Over the years, I’ve attended a bunch of shows, sat in on countless tunes, worked the merch table, and volunteered for IT fest. I’ve jokingly said for years “you should just let me join the band!” Well, recently they decided to finally listen and let me try IT out. It’s been a blast so far, immersing myself in new experiences like deep improvisation, exploring and building my pedal rig, composing new music, and taking on a larger role vocally than I have in any band before. It feels really good to be creative in new ways and be thrown into a band where folks are just as excited for the next chapter. The group chat is constantly lighting up with new ideas and I’m super happy to be a part of it.

Beutel looks as his joining IT and the long journey from fan to band member

One night in September 2014, I went to EBC, a staple in the town of Fredonia where I was attending college, to check out this band that all my upperclassman friends had exclaimed to be THE band to see in Fredonia. Upon entering, I was overtaken by the range of blissful sounds, to downright funk, and all the spaces in between. It was Intrepid Travelers, and immediately I was taken aback by their dynamic musicianship, inspired improvisation, and creative songwriting ability, as it had far exceeded any local acts I had previously seen. I bought a CD, and the Have You Seen My Rainbow Monkey EP was a mainstay in my old car that only took CDs and is now what I consider to be one of the ‘soundtracks’ to my first year at Fredonia. 

Years later in late 2019, my buddy and I needed a drummer for a charity gig, and Jon (Fohl)n was the first person that came to mind, so we reached out and he joined us for a fun show. A few months later, I saw a post of his on Facebook that he was looking for some gigs, to which I reached out and suggested a side project, and let him know I was available if he needed bass for anything. In a somewhat serendipitous way, he let me know that he had been thinking about reaching out to me as Intrepid Travelers had taken a hiatus and weren’t sure what the steps would be moving forward, but that he thought I would be a welcome fit in the group and that we should give it a go. A few months after quarantine, and after many jam sessions with Jon and Brian, I headed over to Donny’s for the first practice with Intrepid Travelers as a whole, where we warmed up with the classic “Photobooth Youth” and launched into a 15-minute jam segment out of it, and the rest is history. It feels full circle in a way, as I can still remember watching these guys on stage in Fredonia and wishing I was up there with them, and to say I’m honored and excited to be in this band would be an understatement. Everything fell into place, and it’s only up from here. I can’t wait to see what the coming years hold for the band, and I’m so grateful to be along for the ride.

Naturally, keyboardist Donny Frauenhofer is excited for the band to return with two new members:

Intrepid Travelers is back with new songs, new members and new energy! I know its a strange time to be “back” as a band that primarily existed as a live act considering what has happened to the live music industry, but it really ended up being the perfect time to get the wheels turning again in a low pressure environment. We had already been talking since the fall about going hard on making content, and just having a greater focus on creating rather than just playing shows constantly. 

Taking a break in the past year was both timely and necessary for Intrepid Travelers to get the creative juices flowing again:

In our time off, we were able to focus better on what we wanted Intrepid Travelers to be as both an entity and for each of us personally. The band being a living, breathing thing that evolves has been at our foundation since Day 1 (one of our earliest songs was called “Always Evolving”). The nice thing is theres very little pressure, so we’re just having fun – and our longtime fans, friends, and supporters seem to be really enjoying it. We played an outdoor show on a neighbors porch and the turnout was incredible.

We have some new, but familiar faces in the band. Zak Beutel, who I actually collaborated with over quarantine a few times, but I’ve just met recently, is taking over the bass and vocals role. Additionally, Ellen Pieroni of Folkfaces is joining on vocals/saxophone/mandolin/whatever other instrument she picks up. We also have a team for the first time since 2016 – Brandon Keller, who had put on Woodhenge Sustainability, Music, and Art Festival is helping manage and book for us, and we also have Tim Merrill who had worked as Witty Tarbox’s manager for a while is joining us to help in a more creative role.

Intrepid Travelers have also announced IT Fest IV to be held in Hannibal, NY for August 28-29, with very limited capacity. More information coming soon.

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