The Bankesters Grow Up

The Bankesters perform at the 2015 DC Bluegrass Festival - photo by David MorrisOne 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.

Melissa Triplett with The Bankesters performs at the 2015 DC Bluegrass Festival - photo by David Morris“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.

Alysha Bankester performs at the 2015 DC Bluegrass Festival - photo by David MorrisAnd 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.

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About the Author

David Morris

David Morris, an award-winning songwriter and journalist, has written for Bluegrass Today since its inception. He joined its predecessor, The Bluegrass Blog, in 2010. His 40-year career in journalism included more than 13 years with The Associated Press, a stint as chief White House correspondent for Bloomberg News, and several top editing jobs in Washington, D.C. He is a life member of IBMA and the DC Bluegrass Union. He and co-writers won the bluegrass category in the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at MerleFest in 2015.