Track Premiere: Ol’ Fred from The Milbillies

Milwaukee has been in the news quite a bit this year, and it has not all been good press. What with police shootings, rioting, and claims of election interference, this largest city in Wisconsin has seen its share of troubles. But here’s some better news for folks in this lovely spot on the shores of Lake Michigan, at least for bluegrass lovers.

The Milbillies, Milwaukee’s latest hometown bluegrass band, has just released their debut, self-titled album, and we are happy to premiere the opening track here today. The band specializes in the animated, urban style grass that is winning fans among younger listeners, noted for its frenetic energy and original songs that appeal to its youthful fan base.

The track they’ve shared in called Ol’ Fred, which banjo player Dan Shaw tells us was inspired by the loss of one their city’s historic icons.

“It tells the sad tale of the closing of the Pabst Brewery in Milwaukee. Our fiddle player, Joe Wais, wrote it after going on a tour of the historic brewery buildings, which have been preserved, and have since become home to event spaces, a bar and coffee shop, and similar things. So the story does have a happy ending, in a way.”

The Milbillies chose to record live, in the studio, set up in a circle in an attempt to capture the passion and spontaneity of a stage performance. Have a listen and see how they did.

Along with Shaw on banjo and Wais on fiddle, The Milbillies are Matt Brey on mandolin, Eben Flood on guitar, and Pat Zimmer on bass. All five share in the vocal duties, and they have Justin Busche joining them on reso-guitar for several tracks on the album.

The new record, The Milbillies, is available now for digital download at bandcamp, and wherever you typically stream or download music online. CDs can be purchased directly from the band.

Share this:

About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.