Local bluegrass outfit Flatland Drive is gaining speed in its third year together. The band of old friends and family members from Harrington and Denton, Md., just released its self-titled debut album and is getting ready to bring its original sound to Dover this Friday.
The group plays a free concert as part of the In Harmony series at 7 p.m., Friday, Feb. 3, at the Delaware Public Archives, 101 Duke of York St., Dover.
Before heading to Friday’s show, audience members should recognize one thing: They’re not going to hear “Hee-Haw” style bluegrass. That’s the misconception people have when considering the genre, said mandolin player Brad Turner.
“When bluegrass started it was pretty much mountain music, it was pretty basic,” Turner said. “We have some of that basic sound, but have added some newgrass to it.”
There’s a touch of blues and new country to their sound, which is natural considering their diverse backgrounds. For example, electric bass player Rodney Collins honed his skills in an alt-country gospel band, and later an alternative rock group while Alan Rausch was playing ukelele in Hawaii before picking mandolin, banjo, pedal steel, guitar and dobro.
Guitarist Lee Collins said the band members’ eclectic backgrounds are just one facet of what makes them shine brighter together. They’re family ties help, too. Rodney is Lee’s cousin, and Brad is his brother-in-law. That and their killer vocals by three lead singers set them apart from less cohesive groups.
“We have a very tight harmony, and I think a lot of that is because of family,” Lee said. “A family harmony is hard to beat.”
Friday’s audience will hear that harmony with the group’s three singers – all of whom sing both tenor and baritone – performing originals and a few cover songs.
The group will play their originals, including “Gone Are the Days,” a tribute to bluegrass pioneers, and could cover material by Seldom Scene, Flatt and Scruggs, the Lonseome River Band and others.
Lee said typically the group draws fans 40 and older, or in their early 20s in response to the group’s bluesy, contemporary stylings. The group also will bring its own fan base along with them.
“Bluegrass has a certain following that they’re going to come to wherever you’re playing,” Turner said.