In the mood for some “High-Octane Rocky Mountain DanceGrass” this weekend? Look to Himmel Haus in South Lake Tahoe, where Whitewater Ramble will be picking up a storm on Sunday night.
Hailing from Fort Collins, Colo., Whitewater Ramble is Patrick Sites (mandolin, vocals), Patrick Latella (guitar, vocals), Howard Montgomery (bass, vocals), Zebulon Bowles (fiddle, vocals), and Paul Kemp (drums). The band grew out of the Fort Collins open-mic scene, and has developed over the years, Sites said.
“The personalities of the band have changed multiple times, we’ve rotated members,” Sites said.
The current group has been together for three years, he said, except for Bowles, who joined the band full time this year after sitting in for a few gigs in 2012.
Whitewater Ramble is currently touring the western U.S. in support of its sophomore album, “Roots & Groove,” which was released in March.
“Attendance really seems to be swelling,” Sites told Lake Tahoe Action. “We’re selling records and yeah, we’re just busy. We’ve got to get out and about, let people know about this record and let people know who we are and what we’re doing.”
For “Roots & Groove,” the band wanted to make an album that better showcased its live sound than prior efforts, Sites said.
“The first record we took songs that were already very polished live and then shrunk them down,” he said. “The second record was more of an exercise of ‘we’re going to play the songs in an open and raw format,’ as opposed to cutting them down.
“When you’re a jam band and you improv and that’s kind of your flow and mojo, it’s kind of hard to do and we had a hard time kind of capturing some of that in the first record. The second record definitely captures more of our interactive play and our live energy.”
Whitewater Ramble takes old-time bluegrass and fuses it with a number of other genres, a sound reflected in the new album’s title. The balance fluctuates according to the audience and venue, according to Sites.
“It really depends on the night. This past weekend we played a show that was really grassy,” he said. “We pulled out a bunch of old traditional tunes that we just hadn’t played in awhile, so we played a pretty true to form bluegrass show. And then other nights, if it seems like its a little bit rowdy or late-night sort of place, where we kind of know the kind of crowd we’re getting into, we’ll pull out the synthesizers and electric guitars and electric mandolins.”
Whitewater Ramble will be joined on Sunday by Absynth Quintet of Arcata, Calif.
“They’re great guys, superb musicians,” Sites said. “Really an interesting sound for people that are into that kind of string band, maybe really heavily David Grisman influenced string music, but a lot more hype than that.”