The Mighty Dreadful, a bluegrass band comprised of local musicians from around the greater Seattle area and regular performers at one Renton bar, traces their beginnings to Craigslist.
When co-founder Kelley Erb, master of the fiddle and vocals, felt the “bluegrass itch,” she looked on Craigslist to find like-minded musicians to jam with.
“I was looking for bluegrass bands and I found that over there with the bright orange shades,” she said, pointing to co-founder Clayton Kaiser, who plays the guitar, mandolin and also sings.
“I had just moved home from moving from Ellensburg and I found the ad Kelley posted,” said Kaiser. “And we both had an interest in bluegrass and country music so we met up, hung out and played once together. We thought that this was easy. So we made a website, did a couple recordings, and the band became the band.”
The bluegrass string band wasn’t complete until upright bassist Nick McLean and lead guitarist Andy Lowe found their way to Erb and Kaiser.
The band found their chemistry quickly along with a regular set list filled with songs by Jimmy Martin, Hank Williams and few originals.
“The songs are simplistic in terms of the structure,” said Kaiser. “If one of us writes a tune, we bring it up at a gig we’re performing at and we’ll just go at it.”
“There are some standard songs and visual cues that are common when you’re playing with bluegrass because it’s meant to be played in groups,” said Erb. “So that made it easier to mesh well on stage, since we knew the cues and the songs. It just went from there. These guys are easy to get along with. We’re pretty laid back.”
They’ve earned slots in the 2015 Northwest Folklife Festival and the Ocean Shores-based ABC Fest. The group is also staple musical guest at Dog & Pony Alehouse in North Renton. Currently, they’re gearing for a Canada and Pacific Northwest tour later in September.
More than their foot-tapping, fiddle-tastic music, it’s the self-deprecating, dry humor, that makes this band stand out. You’ll see in their live performances that the group isn’t as interested in being famous, but rather making good music with friends who give you the finger when it’s appropriate.
Take the origin story of the band’s name, for example.
“We needed a name for our website, and I threw some adjectives at Kelley,” said Kaiser. “We stuck with the first choice.”
And somewhere in between this young group’s take on older music, there’s an invitation for everyone.
“It’s fun and it’s productive,” said Kaiser on making music together. “Making a name isn’t necessarily the goal.”
“Bluegrass has this energy to it, unlike other music,” said Erb. “I hear a lot of people say, ‘I don’t like bluegrass but when they actually hear the live sound it changes.”
For more information about The Mighty Dreadful and for tour dates, visit http://themightydreadful.com/