One thing I enjoy as a music writer is watching bands develop and improve over the years. Some of the fastest improvement in the last few years has come from The Bankesters, a family band from Carbondale, IL.
This point was driven home last weekend, when the band played three solid sets at the two-day DC Bluegrass Union festival in Tysons Corner, VA. The band was tight, and their stage presence was more relaxed and natural than I remember from other shows I’ve seen in recent years. They just might be the tightest family band on the circuit these days.
“In the last year or two, we’ve come into our own style,” said Emily Bankester during a break from signing CDs after the band’s third and final set of the weekend. Her sister, Melissa Triplett jumped in when I asked for a description of that style. “Our roots are in bluegrass,” she said. “But we probably lean a little toward Americana, with a little bit of country in there.”
Along with a third sister, Alysha, mom and dad, Dorene and Phil, and Melissa’s husband, Kyle Triplett, the Bankesters are a true family band.
If you’re a bluegrass fan, you’ll be pleased to know that the band is aiming to include a few more straight bluegrass songs on its next record, which Phil Bankester said will come out sometime in 2016. Band members are in the early stages of identifying songs they might want to cut. They listen to demos individually or together, depending on their schedules, and everybody gets a say.
And if you already love all things Bankester, then here’s some welcome news: “We’re working on writing more ourselves,” Melissa said. That, too, is a collaborative process. “One of us will have an idea and we’ll bounce it back and forth.”
The band already has a busy 2015 schedule lined up, built around day jobs and, in Melissa and Kyle’s case, young children. Based on what I heard Friday and Saturday, there’s no reason this can’t be The Bankesters breakout year.