Bluegrass Meets Heavy Metal – What a Concept!
I knew Stash Wyslouch from a terrific bluegrass band called the Deadly Gentlemen, which disbanded about a year ago, so I was expecting an evening of bluegrass. What I saw was bluegrass meets acoustic heavy metal. One of the only music genres I dislike is heavy metal. I am not sure that Wyslouch changed my opinion, but I enjoyed his blend of the two disparate styles.
Wyslouch started his music journey in heavy metal but at some point during the time he spent at Berklee College of Music, he found bluegrass and followed that path for at least five years. With the demise of his former band, he decided to return to his roots and see if he could combine that with the music he played recently.
He is an excellent guitarist and singer as well as a fine songwriter. His lyrics on this album are quite funny. “In Disguise as a Gentleman” includes the lyric, “I’m a sick f*** in disguise as a gentleman.”. I think most of us know someone who could truthfully sing those lyrics, but I can’t help but wonder if he’s referring to his time spent with the Deadly Gentlemen. Wyslouch’s new band consisted of fellow Deadly Gentleman Sean Trischka on drums and backing vocals, plus Noam Weisenberg on bass, and Duncan Winkel on fiddle. This is a talented group of musicians and I look forward to seeing more of them.
This was a CD release show for Wyslouch’s debut solo album, Stash!, and they played most if not all of the nineteen tracks from the album. Also included on the set list was a Frank Zappa song, “Let’s Make the Water Turn Black,” plus “Two Hands” by Townes Van Zandt, and “Don’t Pass Me By” by Ringo Starr. Zappa especially is a huge influence on Wyslouch, which shows in his clever lyrics.
The audience was replete with musicians, some of whom were invited to the stage to perform with the band: two-thirds of the band Lula Wiles (Isa Burke and Ellie Buckland), as well as former bandmate Greg Liszt and fiddle player Bronwyn Keith-Hynes, were all on hand.
For the encore, we were presented with a cheat sheet of the chorus of Hank Williams’ “I Saw the Light” for the audience participation portion of the evening. I would venture a guess that everyone in the room knew the chorus but it was a great touch with which to end the evening.
There was tremendous energy in the room — both from the stage and the audience — as one would expect for an album release. Had I known the direction Wyslouch is taking, I might not have attended, which would have been a mistake. When I open my mind and heart to something new and unexpected, I am almost always as rewarded as I was this night.