One of the more interesting facets of the American Roots music revival that’s been building over the past several years has been hearing how artists incorporate their own personalities and experiences into the lineage of tradition. Putting personalized twists on old-timey Americana is far from new — it is, after all, how most genres of music indigenous to the U.S. were created — but with the instant access musicians and music lovers have to the entire world of music today, the aural concoctions based on vintage Roots music are more varied than ever. And though some purists’ heads probably do explode whenever they hear, say, Mumford & Sons’ modern, U.K. Pop version of Folk or any of the so-called Newgrass bands tinker with the Bluegrass blueprint, they’re probably not upset on a “Dylan goes electric” level, because a) such fusion is way more common these days and b) it seems like many of the successful artists finding inspiration in Americana music try to be incredibly respectful of tradition in their pursuits.
Young Arizona Roots/Bluegrass quintet Run Boy Run clearly has a reverence for what’s come before them — most of them grew up in musical families connected to the Arizona Bluegrass scene. But the subtly integrated elements of Classical music, Jazz and Pop give the group enough of a slant that they are often dubbed a “progressive” act. Run Boy Run’s “progressiveness” won’t come close to upsetting those aforementioned purists, though. The band’s most high profile fan, Garrison Keillor (not exactly known for his love of the avant-garde), enjoys the group so much, he has had them on his A Prairie Home Companion radio show a few times and even wrote the liner notes to Run Boy Run’s debut full-length, last year’s well-received So Sang the Whippoorwill.
The brand of Bluegrass/Americana that Run Boy Run makes can most accurately be described as “gorgeous,” even when the songs get rather dark, thanks in large part to singers Grace Rolland, Jennifer Sandoval and Bekah Sandoval Rolland, who sing solo and in beautiful harmony, acting as the group’s three-headed Alison Kraus. Equally sublime is the band’s string-heavy musical backdrop, which includes Matt Rolland’s award-winning fiddle, Grace Rolland’s cello, Jennifer Sandoval’s mandolin, Jesse Allen’s upright bass and Bekah Sandoval Rolland’s violin. (Yes, the Rollands and the Sandovals are siblings.)
RUN BOY RUN plays a free show Thursday at the Lounge at Southgate House Revival. Details here .