Arkansas string band visits Gabe’s


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For Mountain Sprout, the band is more than just its musicians —the trusty driver, their “merch” girl, and a pet dog named Bayou are every bit a part of the group. Together, they travel 250 days of the year, hanging out in their 15-passenger van driving from venue to venue.

“I love it. I wish I could spend more time at home. That’s just the way the ball rolls. I think more of the songs I write are about being at home,” said fiddle player Blayne Thiebaux. “So many songs about being on the road is kind of played out. I mean, home is on the road, but we don’t exactly have a motor home.”

Thiebaux, Grayson VanSickle, Dan Redmond, and Adam Waggs make up the band.

Standup bass player Redmond said the band members’ personalities come through best in their live shows. With a traditional sound, Mountain Sprout sings about anything from butterflies and daisies to disagreements with the government. The band is set to perform at 9 p.m. today at Gabe’s, 330 E. Washington St., along with local group Porch Builder. Admission is $5.

Thiebaux describes the live performance as a huge party in which almost everyone is “sky-high.” This is something the band tried to re-create in its recorded albums, but he says the live shows are an experience.

“I remember seeing some bands that I got the same feeling from,” he said. “When I saw Willie Nelson play, that made me cry. As far as just partying your ass off and ‘cheersing’ beers and throwing them on the ground.”

Redmond’s favorite part of the music is the songwriting. Whether he’s singing about being the town drunk or everyday life, the lyrics are dear to him.

“The music’s fun, but the songwriters are really clever, and the words mean a lot,” he said.

One of the songwriters, Thiebaux, says the music and lyrics generally come to him simultaneously. The real challenge lies in putting it down on paper and having the music stay interesting.

“It’s more kind of live through the experience and then come up with some lyrics that has something to do with what happens,” he said. “Or the morning after — that’s a good time to come with some lyrics about the night before.”

Mountain Sprout’s jams show a little bit of what it’s like living in the mountains of Arkansas. The four musicians met in many different places, but now, they live in Eureka Springs, Ark.

“It’s a nice place to be. We live in the No. 2 honeymoon destination in the nation, right next to Vegas,” Thiebaux said and laughed. “Lots of tourists there.”

The band members can’t wait to get back to Iowa City, where they have a lot of friends, he said.

“We were there a few months ago in the winter — Iowa was great,” he said. “Broke a guitar while we were there — well, I broke a guitar. We played in an old bar, ended going to the bar all day. We like Iowa.”

The members say they love playing together and that touring has been a blast. One day, they will retire, but they’re not tired yet — they’re having too much fun.

“We’re all family,” Thiebaux said. “When we’re really hurting bad, we’ll call each other and have someone pick up some beer and get on over to the house.”

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