Out here in the Pacific Northwest we brew our bluegrass a little differently! Sure, the mandolin, fiddle, and banjo are all there, but we’re not afraid to toss in influences from raggedy pop songwriting to punk instrumental aggression. High-energy Seattle stringband The Warren G. Hardings pour a long tall pint of this Cascadian brewgrass on their new album, Get A Life. Inspired by the greats of American roots music, they’re all hardcore pickers on their instruments, casually tossing solos back and forth on stage. Though the music they create has obvious nods to a rural American past, the songwriting here owes more to the fierce politics of the Northwest than any kind of old-timey nostalgia. Or maybe more to the helter-skelter lifestyle of young men trying to make their names in an overloaded city, for many of the songs here speak to the stresses of building a life and a job on your own.
Known as a raging performance band, The Warren G. Hardings have been playing to hungry crowds all over the Northwest for the past few years, ever since meeting at underground bluegrass jams. When they went into the studio to record the new album, they were able to present some of the brash energy of their stage show, but also to draw back to more introspective and thoughtful songs. It’s a beautifully balanced album, and a snapshot of just how hard Northwest rootsgrass can rock.
Recorded in Seattle at Empty Sea Studios, Get A Life features original songs and rapid-fire machine-gun picking from this quintet of next-gen roots musicians. Lead singer and principal songwriter Dave Zelonka comes out the gate like a thoroughbred on the opening song “Treehouse,” channeling some of the punk rock he grew up with. Mandolinist, vocalist and fellow songwriter Gabriel Marowitz leads off the next song, “High & Low,” with righteous fury and saw-toothed vocals. A theme of love and longing runs throughout the album, interspersed with poetic odes (“my girl is cool as water/warm as brandy wine”) and tongue-in-cheek humor (as in “Cannibal Lies”). Songs like “Drifting,” recount the feeling of one’s life spinning out of control, while “Anonymous Waltz,” pines for a lost loved-one.
The Warren G. Hardings are at the forefront of a fresh wave of Cascadian newgrass. There’s an abandon to their music that unites the carefree folk music of a time long gone with the red-hot roots music movement that’s sweeping the nation.
Who are The Warren G. Hardings?
Dave Zelonka – Guitar Dave has been playing music and writing songs since he was 14 years old. He grew up on punk rock but started playing bluegrass when he moved into an apartment that didn’t allow drums.
Gabriel Marowitz – Mandolin Gabriel was inspired to pick up a mandolin after accidentally stumbling into a Yonder Mountain String Band show. This started a journey down the bluegrass rabbit hole leading further and further into the past, until he reemerged with a beard, heavily calloused fingers and many new friends.
Andrew Knapp - Bass Since 5th grade the low registers have infiltrated Andrew’s mind, body, and soul. After a love affair with jazz in college, he met bluegrass in the heart of Cascadia and never looked back.
Steve Werner – Banjo Steve Werner’s journey with bluegrass and the banjo began when he left the Arizona desert for the mountains and forests of the Great Northwest. Someday he might return from whence he came, but probably not.
Lee Callender – Fiddle Lee plays the fiddle and has done so for 15 years. He lets his music do the talking.