DOORSTEP INTERVIEW: The Kentucky Cow Tippers | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by Maria Alzamora

In today’s Doorstep Interview, we talk to bluegrass band Kentucky Cow Tippers about the launch of their brand new EP, the ingeniously titled Northgrass.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Who are you, where are you from?
We are a Newcastle and Leeds-based bluegrass quintet, featuring Rupert Hughes (guitar), Evan Davies (mandolin), Sam Wear (banjo), Niles Krieger (fiddle) and Sam Quintana (bass).

What inspired you to first start making music?
We began playing as an ensemble back in 2008 during sixth form. Sam was inspired to take up the banjo after watching a King of the Hill episode featuring bluegrass music! Evan and Rupert then stole our school’s double bass and the three of us began jamming and composing together. After a successful summer making petty change busking on the streets of Newcastle we realised we could actually make a proper band out of this.

Who would you say are your biggest influences?
Our influences are almost too numerous to list. We love traditional bluegrass, but equally love hearing musicians that push the genre’s boundaries. Our sound is reminiscent of ‘progressive’ bluegrass bands such as Hot Rize, The Tony Rice Unit and Old & In The Way, but we also draw inspiration from folk, blues, country, jazz and rock artists.

How would you describe your sound?
Our original material blends traditional bluegrass with a strong pop sensibility, as you can hear on our new EP, Northgrass. We also approach the old chestnuts with a fresh, contemporary attitude. Even non-bluegrass fans seem to enjoy our instrumental excursions and vocal harmonies!

Where do you see yourselves fitting into the local music scene?
There is an exciting Americana scene blossoming in the North East and it provides an excellent facility for us to join with other bands and artists to showcase our music.

Tell us a bit about your live performances. What can we expect from a gig by you?
In a nutshell, we play hard driving, energetic music with an emphasis on harmonies and improvisation. Come along to one of our gigs and have a dance!

Can you tell us what gigs you have planned in the region in the near future?
Our Northgrass EP launch is at The Cluny 2, Newcastle on Sunday 29th November.

What do you think has been your biggest achievement so far as a band?
Writing, arranging and recording our new EP. Working on this original material really helped us to gel as a unit, and we feel like the finished product is a great representation of where we’re at musically. Also, we may or may not have made a cameo appearance on a recent episode of Don’t Tell The Bride…

Have there been any major challenges so far in your musical career?
Traveling long distances can be a burden, and we’ve had to do a lot of that recently. Regardless, we’ve met so many talented, encouraging and eccentric people, that it’s all been worth it. It can sometimes be a challenge playing to non-bluegrass audiences, but there’s nothing more satisfying than getting people dancing and saying, “I thought I didn’t like bluegrass, but I’m converted now!”

What else have you got planned for the future?
We’re currently working on material for a full-length album, which will hopefully be out later next year (possibly on vinyl!) We’re also hoping to maintain a busy gigging schedule and play more festivals in continental Europe.

Kentucky Cow Tippers release the Northgrass EP at The Cluny 2, Newcastle on Sunday 29th November.

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