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. Mike's passionate lead and harmony vocals blend beautifully with the other Waysiders singers and you'll find him from time to time as the voice behind the "high lonesome". The band met him at a folk festival jam session where he was ripping it up on mandolin and singing with abandon. He was in the band about five minutes later. Photo: David Fox
When it comes to discussing a "who's who" in the Cleveland music scene the name of harmonica player David Krauss will always come up early in the conversation. With a pedigree that's bestowed him the title of "Harp King of Cleveland" (which he humbly denies) he began as a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter in the legendary Tiny Alice Band in the late 1960s and since then has been ubiquitous on countless stages and recording studios around town. As a singer-songwriter David is something of a recluse, but as a sideman he's visible and dynamic, a first call name for veteran outfits like the Blue Drivers, troubadour Alex Bevan, and other diverse Cleveland area groups for nearly 50 years. He's revered for his other-worldly ability to provide just the right touch to whatever setting he's in. He and The Original Waysiders go together (as Forrest Gump would say) like "peas and carrots". 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 soulful vocals. His songwriting is a textbook example of high craft and he was recently called out from the stage by preeminent singer/songwriter John Gorka as someone whose songs "you gotta hear!". Bill is chock full of captivating piano riffs, memorable melodies, and lyrics that deftly balance pathos and grand optimism. In other words, very human. 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. Photo: David Fox
Al Struck has been playing guitar 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. With The Original Waysiders you'll find him doing what the song calls for -- tender fingerpicking, manic strumming, melodic soloing -- on his beloved Goodall RJ. But he prefers to think of himself as a songwriter and approaches it like a writer of short stories or screen plays with intriguing characters and gripping plot twists while always bringing the emotional core to the fore. His songs are accessible but not dumbed down, eloquent but never preachy, and always, always catchy. Photo: David Fox
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