Sunday, July 17, 2011

Free Range Folk Hits the Opera House

Sara Ruch (washboard and saw), Amber Breiner (bass), Shawn McCarty (mandolin),
Josh Finsel (banjo), and Kevin Ruch (guitar)
Free Range Folk made another appearance at the Mauch Chunk Opera House on Friday night. This area’s own 5-piece folk and bluegrass band opened for Greensky Bluegrass with a 6 song set, 5 original with one cover.  Their combination of authenticity and laid-back pickin is a welcomed summertime treat.

Their lyrics, from Ruch’s honest and heartfelt vocals, sink in deep like a day soaking in sunshine. They warm seeds of thought that erupt in an unshakeable smile while Sara Ruch’s skillfully wicked musical saw leaves you mesmerized.

Songs come from their collective experiences of as living as close to the earth as any in these parts. Their lyrics reflect the things they’ve absorbed from the earth while McCarty’s mandolin holds it all together.

Song one, “Hitchhiker” by Ruch makes you wait for that sunshine, hopeful for that ride, and hopeful that we can all be so gracious in the end. Breiner’s bass play adds the natural flow of a step by step journey we all take while Finsel’s banjo provides the rhythm.

“Polypore Joe” by Finsel celebrates the simple life of mountain man Joe, who passed on his contentment in the arts of mushrooming and winemaking. Ruch’s “Bubblin’” stays on that theme, seeing life through the cycle of springtime dandelion to the labors of summer, and letting the wine warm you while expectant of another spring and another chance at making some wine. (Which by the way there was plenty of home-made wine on hand from the Fourteen Acre Farm, which could be considered Free Range Folk’s home farm.)

Song four was Finsel’s “The Bottom of the Hill,” which they also played at the public showing of “Gasland” earlier this spring. The slow ballad “Hill” reminds us how our society tends to ignore the environmental price tag we pay for energy.

Song five, “Lehigh,” a local sentimental favorite, gained a new twist, as Finsel added the line “Married my girl by the Lehigh,” precisely what he did several years back, above the “Turnhole” of the Lehigh at Glen Onoko, marrying bassist Amber Breiner.

They wrapped up the set with Jane’s Addiction’s “Summertime Rolls.” Folk’s rendition does a good job staying true to the same feel as the original while making it their own and all the while pulling everyone into memories of their own summertime love. 

From “Bubblin’”:

"When the cold comes we'll be drinking by the fire...
Dreamin of a summer with no end
Warming our souls with our labor
and when the spring comes we'll do it all again."

Many left hopeful to hear another chance to let them do it all over again.

You can catch them this friday at the Lehigh Valley Folk Festival at 5 and 9 pm. (See ).

You can check out the band at their website and hear 11 of their songs at and their website

No comments:

Post a Comment