Upbeat, positive, grassy, intertwined with funky, untamed improvisation. Those are the words Woodshed Red band members use to describe their sound, which earned a nomination for Best Americana Band at the Indy Music Awards in 2014 and Best Bluegrass Band in 2015. But no matter how listeners characterize their distinctive tunes, one thing is for sure: Woodshed Red is doing something right.
Launched in 2013, the band has retained all of its original members, and each musician brings his or her own personality flair to the group. Skye Lewis, the band’s drummer, is a man of many hobbies. Fiddle player and vocalist Dierdre McCarthy has been portrayed as a “workout machine.” Bassist Craig Haughton loves cracking corny jokes while playing softball. And Rob Fulton, guitarist and vocalist, is known for his sound check meltdowns.
The Colorado Springs band started with Fulton and Haughton playing cover songs, eventually adding McCarthy into the mix. Before too long, Fulton said they realized it was difficult to carry a beat all night without a drummer, so they reached out to Manitou Springs percussionist Lewis.
Musically diverse paths shaped Woodshed Red’s backdrop. Prior to creating the band, Fulton had never played bluegrass, having grown up on classic rock and blues. Lewis’ influences include pop, punk and indie. And McCarthy, the child of an Irish-born mother, previously played only Celtic classical music.
“Honestly, what we’ve enjoyed doing is just taking our instruments and playing blues, making them sound different than the typical thing. We don’t spend much time modeling our sound after other bands. We play mostly what feels good on the spot,” Fulton said.
Fulton dubbed the evolution of Woodshed Red as a “great journey.” “At the start, Dierdre was shy and timid, she’d never played in a band. But now she’s come to life, she’s a monster, and she’s developed around our playing and style. It’s one of those things you couldn’t recreate. It’s the same with everyone in our band, we’ve really grown together … a nod of the head or the raise of an eyebrow on stage and we know where we are going next. It would be hard to get a different group together and do this again.”
The band’s first album, Rosin on the Bow, was recorded in 2014; members are currently writing songs for a second album. The vast majority of their gigs in the first few years were weddings and private events (playing both covers and originals), but Woodshed Red recently added more public shows and festivals to their lineup. They perform mostly in Colorado but have made a handful of appearances in Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico.
The crowd can expect to dance (if they want to) at the band’s Salida SteamPlant show April 14. Fulton explained Woodshed Red feeds off the energy of the audience. “We get people going, and then we send it back and forth all night. We really react to the mood the audience is in – if they dance hard, we tend to jam more and keep it funky. If they just sit and watch, then we stick with vocal harmonies.”