Cleveland, Ohio based acoustic troubadours, The Original Waysiders, defy being pigeonholed, and celebrate the fact that each song tells a story and in a style all its own. On their self-titled debut album you'll find songs of universal resonance that are accessible, yet never dumbed down.
The band was born of a need to write and perform original music across multiple genres. Catch any of their live performances and you'll find them moving seamlessly from folk, to bluegrass, to blues, to doo wop, to piano ballads, to you name it. Yet it all manages to sound cohesive -- "strangely familiar" as one fan called it -- and all part of the experience.
Songwriters Al Struck and Bill Saltzman strive for their compositions to have memorable melodies that stand on their own, yielding an unmistakably musical foundation for their compelling lyrics. For the band, it’s all about the song. They deliver musical hooks, deft arrangements, and lush harmonies that provide a “just right” touch of color to support the emotional core of each song.
The band's debut album is now available, and recording has already begun on the follow-up.
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Meet the Waysiders
Mike Brennan is the band's utility man, which means he routinely brings more instruments to a gig than anyone else -- mandolin, banjo, guitar, bouzouki, concertina, Irish flute, and who knows what else he couldn't fit in his trunk. He grew up playing Celtic music and bluegrass, but knows all the classic rock tunes as well. He met the band at a folk festival while he was ripping it up on mandolin and singing during a jam session. He was in the band about five minutes later. Photo: Susan Saltzman
John McKitrick is the band's main vocalist and has a background as formidable as you'll find. As a Beatles aficionado, he can sing with John Lennon's fiery edge when he wants to, get soulful ala Motown, then smooth out the rough edges by drawing on his experience fronting an 18 piece swing band. He's an intuitive singer, able to quickly settle on just the right way to approach a song. When he's not singing lead, he'll adapt his phrasing to provide effortless melodic harmonies. Oh, and his ability to remember lyrics from just about any song he's ever heard is uncanny. Photo: David Fox
Bill Saltzman began his musical career as a drummer, which is how he started with the band. Then they heard him play piano. And sing. And write. The response was "Wow!" and his role was quickly and dramatically expanded. At live performances you'll find him on the cajon driving the band with impeccable rhythmic ferocity on one song, and then slipping behind the piano for the next, all the while providing his distinctive and soulful vocals. Photo: David Fox
Haley Steinhardt is the newest member of The Original Waysiders, bringing warm, alto vocals to the leads and harmonies she sings. With a background in theater, choral singing, and countless jam sessions, Haley's core musical inspirations range from Memphis Minnie to Janis Joplin to Gillian Welch. Her voice has been called "authentic," and her intuitive ear allows her to jump in on harmonies anytime, anywhere. When she's not singing, you'll find her editing books, writing poetry, or shaking a leg in support of other local musicians.
Al Struck is all about the guitar, and has been playing since age five when his grandmother gave him a comically cheap acoustic that was bigger than he was. Since then, he's been a voracious consumer of guitar styles, maddening his early teachers with wanting to learn how to play like B.B. King one week, Chet Atkins the next, and David Gilmour the week after. Go to his house and you're likely to find him answering the door with a guitar in hand. With The Original Waysiders you'll find him doing what the song calls for -- tender fingerpicking, manic strumming, melodic soloing -- on his beloved Guild D40, or conjuring up lush textures on his Benoit squareneck resonator or Iseman Weissenborn-style guitars. Photo: Susan Saltzman
Dale Taylor is a veteran bassist from countless rock bands. His musical journey led him to blues and eventually to acoustic music, which compelled him to learn the upright bass, which he now plays almost exclusively on stage. From time to time you'll find him in the corner getting his Elmore James on as he dabbles with bottleneck slide on his tricone resonator. With The Original Waysiders he coaxes out all the sounds the upright has to offer: a gentle yet deceptively effective 1 and 5 bassline in "Never Will Be The Same", playing arco for extra oomph on "Queen Of Roanoke", and breaking nails and knuckles, rockabilly slap-bass-style on "I Do What I Want". Photo: David Fox