The Rumpke Mountain Boys took the stage of the Encore in the Drefus University Center at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point on Friday, Nov. 18.
According to the Rumpke Mountain Boys’ website, they are a “foot stomping, old timey, whiskey spilling, psychedelic Jamgrass” band from Cincinnati, Ohio.
The four-man bluegrass band was founded 11 years ago and consists of Jason Wolf, Ben Gourley, Adam Copeland and JD Westmoreland.
“There’s not any mountains out there, so we named ourselves after the landfill because it’s the highest thing in Cincinnati,” Copeland, the band’s guitarist, said. “So you can get an idea of why we call it ‘trash grass’ and that’s because we’re named after the landfill.”
The band is currently playing shows all over the country, from Stevens Point to Chicago to Pittsburg.
The Rumpke Mountain Boys’ music incorporates a variety of bluegrass instruments, guitar, mandolin, upright bass, banjo and harmonica.
Eli Frieders, senior communication and media studies major and bluegrass musician himself, attended the concert on Friday.
“It’s definitely something I haven’t heard before,” Frieders said. “They are only concerned about their sound, which is cool. It’s something fresh but also very rustic at the same time.”
The band, dressed in jeans, t-shirts and plaid button downs, played straight through the night, enveloping the room with the kind of music to which it is easy to bob your head and tap your feet.
The Encore was transformed into a party with the music and energy from the band, some attendees dancing, some sitting, some chatting with friends and others milling around the room enjoying the music.
“We’re going to break 100 for attendance, so that to me is a great show,” Ben Majeska, concerts coordinator for Centertainment Productions, said. “Everyone is up close to the stage, dancing, people are loving it. The band is being very relatable with the audience, telling good stories. So it has all the ingredients for a good show.”
Frieders thought the show could have been even bigger if it had not been scheduled on this particular date.
“They’re struggling with opening hunting season tonight,” Frieders said. “The fact that they’re still pulling a crowd tonight is huge. The fact that the bluegrass community right now in Stevens Point is this big even though most of the people who would be enjoying this concert are gone, that says a lot in itself, I think.”
The Rumpke Mountain Boys do not play their music from set lists. Instead, the four members get up on the stage and play whatever moves them.
All four of the musicians sing; there is no lead vocalist. Their seamless voices meld their songs together with a distinctive yet consistent sound.
“In all the years I’ve been with these guys, we’ve wrote a set list once,” Copeland said. “And we played three songs from it. So we just quit doing that. Instead we just take turns.”
The Rumpke Mountain Boys’ website compares their unique style for organizing a show to “playing around a campfire… distilling shows from a sea of infinite notes created from years of jamming.”
The Rumpke Mountain Boys have released three studio albums: Trashgrass (2012), Moon (2013) and High Time, Low Tide (2016).
Find them on their website at www.rumpkemountainboys.com or on Facebook @RumpkeMountainBoys.