We had the chance to catch a set from Mountain Faith in their new stage configuration this past weekend at SPBGMA. It was a fast-paced, high-energy show that ran through a combination of the songs from their various albums, the grassified pop songs from their time on America’s Got Talent, and new material they will be recording this year.
Their performance to open the stage show on Friday morning was played without the drummer who has recently joined the group, but all the band members had instrument-mounted microphones. The sound was quite transparent with a totally acoustic feel, outside of the banjo which is always hard to mic this way. I’m sure they will dial that in before long.
Summer McMahan’s voice was brilliant as always and perfectly suited to the modern, somewhat poppy sound they are pursuing. She has become confident and assured on stage and exudes a star quality that is hard to ignore. Several audience members were close to tears as she sang a couple of the more poignant songs.
The rest of the band are primed for the challenge of a wider audience as well. Mandolinist Cory Piatt, who the bands bills as “the Energizer Bunny” for his frenetic stage presence, was on top of his game on both mandolin and octave mandolin, not to mention harmony vocals. New member David Meyer on guitar and vocals showed himself to be an able replacement for the recently departed Luke Dotson, on his lead vocals and duets with Summer.
Banjo man Brayden McMahan has developed a unique style that stays close enough to the traditional roll style to please bluegrass fans, but with his own twists that combine nicely with Piatt’s mandolin licks. Jimmy Meyer on guitar and Sam McMahan on bass kept the rhythm steady on the back line.
Perhaps most notable was the reaction of the audience, which skewed that morning towards much older fans. But they responded enthusiastically to this decidedly contemporary band, one many of them had watched grow up at SPBGMA over the past ten years.
These folks have the capacity to be a true crossover sensation from the bluegrass world to mainstream country, pop and Gospel music.
There are plans for a new band album and a Christmas album before the year is out.
Keep an eye on Mountain Faith.