Well. Again. OK, then. In the midst of all this South By Southwest stuff – as well as an open mic we are holding at 200 East on Friday – the Americana Fest is set to go down this weekend at the Weinberg Center. And we, believe it or not, have actually talked to pretty much all the artists set to perform (yet not Keller Williams; he’s simply too good). This week, then, we’ll be running Q’s & A’s with the ones we were lucky enough to speak with. Today, we have local bluegrass awesome dudes The Plate Scrapers. Among the things we discussed were what it means for them to be playing the Weinberg, when they might begin work on a new album, and how they got together in the first place. They’re set to take the stage on Saturday, and we all know you’re looking for something to do on Saturday. So, go support the locals!
You guys put out your debut album last year, which makes you kind of relatively new to this area’s music scene. How did the band form? What were some of the precipitating factors that brought you guys together?
Brett Kretzer: We all started picking together at a mutual friend’s farm who had a really awesome bluegrass jam every Sunday night – plenty of good food, corn liquor and tunes. There were a lot of great pickers and really wonderful people that showed up every week, but for some reason, the four of us had a noticeable chemistry. Eventually, we thought, “Hey, why don’t we go out and do this same thing in front of a can?” It all started out as just four dudes having a good time, and we try to keep it that way.
What are some of your proudest accomplishments thus far?
Andrew Jordan: Being able to go on tour and come back alive, not broke, and not hating each other. Playing with some really awesome musicians. Getting on the radio in Knoxville. Meeting cool people is all pretty right on, too.
Brett Kretzer: I’m really proud to have a studio CD, which we recorded and produced on our own.
Who are some of your major influences and why?
Brett Kretzer: I think we are influenced most by people who don’t just go through the motions on stage, waiting to get their paycheck and head to the next gig – people that make every single performance into a deep emotional and spiritual connection with the crowd. Larry Keel comes to mind.
What does “Americana” mean to you?
Derek Kretzer: That’s tough because it’s such a broad genre. I guess I would say any western music created with roots-y, organic flavor.
You guys are playing on the Saturday of the festival with We Banjo 3 and Keller Williams. Are you looking forward to checking anyone out the most?
Derek Kretzer: I am definitely looking forward to seeing Keller. I have seen him many times in many different incarnations and it is always interesting. This will be my first time seeing We Banjo 3, so I look forward to meeting them as well.
What’s your impression of the local music scene here in Frederick – especially when it comes to Americana and bluegrass?
Evan Bell: The local community is really supportive of bluegrass and string bands. We have a fantastic fan base that always comes out strong to local Frederick shows. There aren’t a lot of string bands coming out of Frederick, but it does have a very eclectic and vibrant music scene. We were recently on a Frederick Playlist CD that showcased the variety of music that comes from this area, a reason why I love living here.
Who/what are you listening to the most lately? Are there any names of any bands or artists that we might not know about, who we should pay attention to?
Brett Kretzer: Plank Stompers are our buds. If you like psychedelic, boot-stompin’, hippie-funk-grass, check them out.
What does it mean to you guys to be playing the Weinberg Center?
Derek Kretzer: Playing at the Weinberg is a huge honor for us. We are all from this area and the Weinberg is one of the nicest venues around. There have been some legendary performers that have played on that stage and for us to be asked is extremely humbling and a great privilege.
– What’s next for The Plate Scrapers? With “Contact” released more than a year ago now, will you be getting in the studio anytime soon?
Brett Kretzer: Absolutely. We’ve got a ton of fresh new material to lay down, some of which you can hear at our live shows. It’s our best stuff by far, now that we’re really evolving as a band. There’s also a possibility of a totally different sort of album, just for fun.
And finally, what can we expect from your set at the Weinberg Center?
Derek Kretzer: We will be playing first so we will have a fairly short set. We will be playing mostly our own original material off our album “Contact” as well as some new unreleased material for the hardcore Scrapers fans. Maybe we can even convince Keller or one of the We Banjo 3 boys to pop out and jam a little bit.