Maybe it’s the fact that they got their start as dirty travelers busking all over the globe (Australia, et al); maybe it’s because they all have similar, somewhat muddy tastes in folk music; maybe it’s the fact that they’re constantly commuting between Portland and Eugene to continue their musical lifestyles. Whatever the cause, local folkers Wainwright Brothers encapsulate a truckin’ vagabond sound with perfection. And it makes you want to stomp your feet until the bottom falls out of Sam Bond’s.
“Indie roots, bluegrass inspired, boot-stomping are our main self-descriptors,” says banjo player Dylan Macnab, and he’s right, for all intents and purposes: The band’s tunes range from silk to sandpaper, each one a mystery waiting to be unraveled until the vocals come in. But whether the singing sounds like a fierce Tom Waits impression or a strange Harry McClintock at age 20, it’s never a let down — just know that you won’t be getting your usual dose of bluegrass out of these kids. Spearheaded by Macnab’s banjo twang, the instrumentation is as dusty as a southern broom and rugged as the beards the band members sport. But the songwriting is inherently modern, and this lends the Brothers their toe-tapping idiosyncrasy. They’ll probably make you wish you knew how to dance, but then you’ll realize you don’t need formal training; expressing yourself is fun enough.
After almost a five-month hiatus (during which percussionist/guitarist Will Glaser was abroad), the Brothers are reuniting to what will hopefully be a welcoming crowd in the town that knows them best. Erin Howe (of Bad Mitten Orchestre) joins the fellas on fiddle and she’s got just the right measure of savage violin skill to make the folk go down like whiskey — smooth, but with an intoxicating burn.
The Wainwright Brothers and Montana Skies play 9 pm Wednesday, May 16, at Sam Bond’s; $1-$5 door.