When I first met The Wildmans, they were pre-teen pickers circulating in the arts-rich mountain community of Floyd, VA. Even then, with their mom ferrying them to rehearsals and shows, it was clear that these two young musicians, Aila and Eli Wildman, were destined for bigger things.
As young teens they hooked up with clawhammer banjo superman Victor Furtado, and the three became fast friends. With Aila on fiddle and vocals and her older brother, Eli, on mandolin, they generated a buzz wherever they performed. Aila’s powerful presence and sultry singing style caused heads to turn, along with soaring instrumental work drawing on familiar old time and bluegrass themes. Now with Sean Newman on bass, they have a solid quartet and have recorded a new album for Travianna Records expected early this year.
They have adopted the mantra of neo-traditionalism, with all its contradictions, and exemplify the sort of youthful idealism that is shaking up the string band world presently.
A first single from their Travianna debut is set for release tomorrow, a bluesy version of Gillian Welch and David Rawlings’ Rock of Ages, which the band tells us came together quickly when they first tried it.
“This arrangement of Rock of Ages was a product of the first practice of our current lineup, and represents the moment we were certain that we had a good chemistry together. After a summer on the road together we captured that energy in the studio, and are incredibly excited to share it with you!”