A couple of years ago, I pulled up to a little neighborhood bar in Philadelphia to play a show. The headliner that night was a group of young adults from Winchester, VA called Gallows Bound. Six folks decked out in t-shirts from their favorite punk bands, tattoos, piercing and the like.
Walking in, I received a sight I was not expecting to see: acoustic guitars, mandolin, banjo, double bass and a small drum kit with a washboard laid over the floor tom. Instantly, I was stoked to see what these punk rock kids were going to do with their influences from the foothills of the Appalachians.
They were a blast. A little rough around the edges, but the songs were great. Vocalist/Guitarist Jesse Markle was the grit to vocalist/guitarist Jordan Joyes’ grace. The contrast in vocals, the instrumentation of people who all could play their instruments well and the energy were all things that made the band stick out above other acts I had played with on tour. They were special.
We hit it off well, took some pictures together, drank too much together and then we went our separate ways keeping in touch sporadically through social media.
A year later, I was in Johnson City, TN playing a show when I saw a Facebook message that Gallows Bound was playing a few blocks from where I was playing. So, as soon as I packed up my gear, I headed over to the Hideaway to see the band and that was one of the best moves I have made as a music fan.
In that year, Gallows Bound had tightened up the sound, Markle’s vocals were blending well with Joyes’ and the rest of the band, bassist Aaron Blow, drummer Rob Shultz, mandolin player Forrest Veatch and banjo player Justin Carver, were hitting on all cylinders. The energy was high, the audience responsive and the set showed the continued growth of the band. Now, if only they would come to Texas.
Now, in 2016, about 8 months later, Gallows Bound was on their first US tour and the closest they got to Houston was in New Braunfels at Gruene Hall.
Looking a bit worn out from the preceding weeks of touring, the band loaded into the historic dancehall as a few patrons milled around waiting for the bar to open at noon. Having played a late show in Dallas the night before and travelling 4 hours to Gruene, it was interesting to see how the day would progress, especially with a 3 hour set looming.
A little past noon, with a small crowd gathering, the set was off. Almost instantly, at least to the spectators, the exhaustion disappear and the energy came rushing back. As the music filled the air, the butts filled the seats. People danced in the back of the room to the mixture of bluegrass, folk and punk rock attitude. Audience members delivered beers to the stage to help cure the band members’ hang overs and even the seated stamped their feet to the beat of the songs.
The set contained a few tunes from their first album, Empty Flask, Empty Heart, but leaned heavily of their new self-titled album and some yet-to-be released songs, a couple of which featured lead vocals from Veatch and Carver.
At the break for each set, the merch table was filled with people wanting to take home albums and other wares. It was definitely a good day for music at Gruene Hall and a good day to see Gallows Bound.
They are on tour until the end of February, so go check out their website to see when they will be close to you, you will not regret it. For tour information visit their website.