Live bluegrass: River Wheel


River Wheel

On Friday night, I decided to take a walk into downtown Lancaster to see what was happening for First Friday. The weather was perfect – mid-seventies, low humidity, clear skies. I made my way to Prince St., into the heart of the Art District, and strolled through the crowds with an eye to see if there were any musical performers that would catch my ear.

The first group I came across was a six-piece acoustic band called River Wheel, a Lancaster-based group that plays regionally. Their line-up consisted of guitar, mandolin, two violins, cello, and upright bass. They were playing bluegrass, both vocal and instrumental music. I caught them as they were beginning to play a version of “Sittin’ On Top Of The World.” When they finished the song, I continued on, walking down a few more streets and encountering four or five other acts along the way.

However, I eventually found myself back on Prince St., in order to catch whatever I could of River Wheel, who were totally cooking! The sidewalk was crowded, but I was fortunate to be able to work my way closer for a better view, and by the last couple of songs I was standing right in front of them.

I’ve always had an affinity for upright bass players, and so it gave me great pleasure to watch and listen to Charles Meunch in particular. He calmly and fluidly contributed melodic lines while singing lead or harmonizing. All six players were excellent, and their playing blended perfectly into a beautiful acoustic sound that was exactly what I needed to hear that evening.

At about 8:45pm, they finished up with a rousing instrumental (which I sadly don’t know the name of). The audience clapped along, band members whooped and played “one more time!” several more times, and the evening ended on that major up-note.

I definitely recommend checking them out if you get the chance. They have a Myspace page featuring several songs, and if you are on Facebook you can find them here. The best, though, has to be seeing them live. I’ve already bookmarked their Myspace page so that I can plan to see them when they come into town again!



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