MERLEFEST ON THE ROAD: The Way Down Wanderers, The Barefoot Movement, Andy May

The Grey Eagle and Worthwhile Sounds Present

MERLEFEST ON THE ROAD: The Way Down Wanderers, The Barefoot Movement, Andy May

Sun, February 25, 2018

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

$15.00 - $20.00

This event is all ages


VIP tickets with prioirty seating available.  Guaranteed seating in 1st three rows!

The Way Down Wanderers
The Way Down Wanderers
Equal parts fast-paced and soulful, 5-piece modern-folk Americana act, The Way Down Wanderers, draw listeners in with energy, originality and soulful generosity. Playing, performing and writing together for just 3 short years, the Wanderers have built an enthusiastic and fast-growing following. Youthful and professionally trained, these young men captivate audiences with soaring instrumentals, foot stomping sing-alongs and a lively stage show and have created a buzz for themselves with their unplugged, off-stage encores and propensity for performing self-titled, “restSTOMPS” - free acoustic sets at rest & truck stops along their tour routes. The band’s debut, self-titled album, produced by Mike Marsh of the Avett Brothers and recorded at Sonic Ranch in El Paso TX, is now available wherever music is sold.

International Song Writing Competition finalist,“Dead Birds,” is available on Spotify, iTunes and wherever digital music is sold.

Front-men and founders, Austin and Collin, met in their hometown of Peoria, IL when they joined the same folk band and embarked on their first tour at the ages of 14 and 18 years old. The two became fast friends and soon began writing music together, ultimately forming The Way Down Wanderers when Collin was 16 and Austin, 20 years old.

Austin Thompson - guitar, lead & harmony vocals as well as percussion in the studio. Austin studied music at the collegiate level where he grew as a musician. Austin finds much inspiration for his lyrics in the beauty of nature and his love for hiking. He adds his unique musical influences of rock, folk and the spoken word to the music he writes and performs.

Collin Krause - Collin plays mandolin, fiddle and sings lead and harmony vocals for the band. Collin became involved in music when he began taking classical violin at the age of 3. Growing up around traditional roots & bluegrass music had a big influence on him. Collin enjoys writing, co-writing and arranging music for the band.

John Merikoski- Drums, Percussion. John has been playing drums since age nine and is featured on dozens of recordings, ranging from Jazz and Metal to Hip-hop and Bluegrass. In 2012 he was awarded a full ride scholarship to study Jazz performance for drum set at the University of Illinois where he has taken a break to pursue The Way Down Wanderers, full-time.

John Williams - Upright bass and vocals. John is a former classical upright bass performance major who also enjoys singing, song-writing and entertaining a crowd

Travis Kowalsky - Banjo & fiddle. Travis got his start in music at a very young age in his family band. He is entirely self-taught and can play pretty much any instrument he picks up. The Wanderers were lucky enough to meet Travis at his home town festival in Alpena Michigan and he has been touring with them ever since.

"The Way Down Wanderers combines folk with boy-band appeal: a quintet with gorgeous vocals, instrumentals, some dreads and a whole bunch of youthful energy."

- That Music Mag

"Their brand new self-titled LP features rip-roaring banjo, carefree mandolin, soaring harmonies, and lush low-end strings. The Way Down Wanderers embark on a locomotive-like barn-burning adventure and beckon us to join—from the first notes of opener “Dead Birds”, a foot-stomping folk tune, to road-trip worthy ramblers like “Circles” and “Blacktop Highway”, with some snarling guitar-rock thrown in for good measure on tracks like “Changing”, there’s a sparkling gem waiting to be discovered around every single corner on this album."

- Mother Church Pew

“These young men create a fresh perspective on the traditional [bluegrass] genre. Kause’s high, ringing tenor carries the band’s enchanting, uplifting drive towards positivity...”

- Elmore Magazine

“While the band's music won't allow you to sit still, it's their soul-driven lyrics that wend their way into your body and soul.”

-Henry Carrigan

"The collection contains 12 vibrant songs ranging from ballads to driving bluegrass reels and folk rock stories of the road. All told, we are presented with a gang of musicians who are excited about what is coming down the road while also savoring the moment with a rollicking blend of fiddle, mandolin, guitar, banjo and drum."

- Glide Magazine

"Even with the cutting, arresting voices of Collin Krause and Austin Thompson on display, the opening tune “Path To Follow” was all about a punchy fusion of drums and banjo. Austin’s vocal leads like “Dead Birds” had a rippling and dense quality almost like rapping. Collin’s songs like Blacktop Highway” had more raspy tenderness. Musically there were jungle drums and mandolin in “Up North,” alt-Irish-country fiddle in “Sweet Morning Vision” and punk grass pogo drive in closer “Truth, Son.”

- Craig Havighurst, Music City Roots

“Dead Birds takes what was already good about The Way Down Wanderers and multiplies it by ten. Luxuriant bluegrass picking and steady percussion are met by tinges of fiddle and cello-based classical influence, making for an exquisite overall package that’s quickly readying the Wanderers to take not just Illinois or the States, but the world by storm."


“A polished sound filled with strong vocals and fantastic harmonizing, made all the better with vivid lyrics and powerful instrumentation.”


"The band creates layers of lush instrumentation that serve as a perfect soundscape for their gorgeous vocal harmonies. Their live show is full of energy and just a damn good time. They’re one of those bands that you can tell has a lot of fun doing what they do."
The Barefoot Movement
The Barefoot Movement
Heartfelt, energetic, and down home. Heralded by CMT Edge as "one of the most promising bands on the bluegrass scene," the music of the Nashville based group The Barefoot Movement is as down to earth as their intention for members of their audience: sit back, relax, take your shoes off, and stay a while. All the worries and frustrations of the world melt away as this charming, acoustic band takes listeners back to a simpler place and time. Whether you're seeking emotional ballads or rip-roaring barn-burners, you can expect a collection of music that offers something for everyone. With two full length albums, an EP of traditional music, several cross-country tours, and appearances at some of the top bluegrass festivals in the United States already under their belt, the possibilities for this act are endless. The group has enjoyed almost non-stop touring including a trip to Burkina Faso, Africa where they were guests of the American Embassy, and in September of 2014, they received a Momentum Award, naming them "Band of the Year" by the International Bluegrass Music Association.

Their show is as fun to watch as it is to hear. The smiles on the faces of the band are obvious displays of the joy and excitement they feel when performing and the audience shares in the fun. With effortlessly executed transitions, the pacing between the softer and more vigorous numbers constantly has fans on the edge of their seats.

The "movement" can be traced back to the teen years of singer-songwriter and fiddler Noah Wall, of Oxford, NC. Just as she had begun penning her first compositions, she met mandolinist Tommy Norris their senior year of high school. Convinced of their musical chemistry and driven by mutual ambition, they continued to build the band from the ground up throughout their college careers. While Tommy studied classical music and recording engineering at Western Carolina University, Noah chose East Tennessee State, particularly for their Bluegrass, Old-time and Country Music Program. Here she began to shape her musical identity, under the tutelage of ETSU's renown staff, and found an instrumental home in old time fiddling. With the addition of versatile guitarist and singer Alex Conerly of Hattiesburg, MS in 2013, and most recently, Katie Blomarz of Frankfort, IL on the upright bass, the lineup was complete with all the elements that make up the Barefoot sound: lush harmonies, thoughtful instrumentation, and memorable melodies.

It has now been seven years since The Barefoot Movement took off their shoes and took to the stage. Hard work and talent have taken them from east coast to west, from north to south, and even across the Atlantic Ocean. They have appeared in Country Weekly Magazine,, CMT Edge, Music City Roots, and Woodsongs Old-Time Radio Hour. Their original music was featured on the Outdoor Channel's program "Huntin' the World: Southern Style" and their music video for their popular song "Second Time Around" has been seen nationally on the Zuus Country Network. They have been selected as showcase artists at both the International Bluegrass Music Association and the Americana Festival conferences and were first runners up at the 2013 Telluride Bluegrass Festival's New Band Competition.

With crowds teeming with enthusiasm at every performance, and new fans joining the fold across the nation, word is surely spreading and the message is clear: barefoot is better. Won't you join the movement?
Andy May
Andy May
In a career spanning 5 decades and 3 regions of the nation, Andy May makes remarkable music which can be exuberant, thoughtful, funny or bittersweet – but it’s always a joyful experience. His originality and optimism combined with his love and respect for America’s musical roots shine through his work.

Mix the eclecticism of Bob Dylan, the mellowness of Don Williams, and the fire of Bill Monroe and you might come close to a description of Andy’s music. He has been called a “troubadour of life,” an “Americana music pioneer,” a “master of traditional American music styles,” and an “upbeat roots rocker.” Through the years, he has appeared with artists as diverse as Pete Seeger, Merle Haggard, Nickel Creek, Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry, and John Hartford.

By his 20th birthday, Andy had played Carnegie Hall and won the Grand Championship on guitar at the legendary Union Grove, NC, Fiddler’s Convention. As a teen in New York City in the late 1960’s, he often performed concerts for Izzy Young at his legendary Folklore Center. It was Izzy who gave Bob Dylan his first-ever concert in 1961 and who gave Andy his first concert as a songwriter in 1970. During this time Andy also played the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Cooper Union, frequently appeared on WBAI-FM, and worked with Brill Building songwriter and producer Artie Resnick (Under the Boardwalk, Good Lovin’). All the while, he studied painting and fine arts at the High School of Music and Art – where he was honored with the Art Chairman’s Award – and the School of Visual Arts – where he studied with twentieth century painting master Chuck Close. (Read Andy’s Notes about his time in NYC.)

Andy moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1970 and established himself in the club and concert scene there. In 1974 he moved to the western part of the state and earned a B.F.A. (Magna Cum Laude) from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. With western Massachusetts as his base, he crisscrossed New England as a soloist and bandleader (The Andy May and Texas Tabby Crabb Band, Andy May and Atlantic Express), playing concerts, festivals, clubs, and dances and garnering praise for his knock-out performances, skill on his instruments, and the depth of his songwriting. (Read Andy’s Notes about his time in Massachusetts and the Massachusetts musicians he’s worked with through the years.)

In 1986, Andy moved to Fort Collins, Colorado, where – in addition to performing – he became an active recording producer and educator. It was also there that Andy met and began co-writing with his wife, Lauren.

Andy started and runs the record label and production company, Swift River Music, which has become the home label for other independent artists as well as Andy. In 2007, he agreed to release an album on Swift River by the legendary bluegrass mandolinist Everett Lilly, whose music he had admired for many years. Believing in the project, Andy dived in with post-production polishing and Lauren took on the liner notes and artwork. The next year, the IBMA honored Swift River Music and Everett Lilly and Everybody and Their Brother with their 2008 “Recorded Event of the Year.”

Andy has had songs on Juno Award, Gemini Award and Apollo Award-nominated albums and T.V. shows and on T.V. documentaries. He is also a yearly performer and educator at major festivals like Walnut Valley Festival and MerleFest, where he conducts his beloved Acoustic Ki♪s Showcases. Through this non-competitive event, he has provided performance opportunities for hundreds of young musicians at music festivals for over two decades.

Based out of Nashville, Tennessee, since 1996, Andy has been a regular workshop contributor to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and continues to be an in-demand educator, performer, and recording producer.

With all of this music and experience under his belt, Andy is still eager for new opportunities!
Venue Information:
The Grey Eagle
185 Clingman Ave
Asheville, NC, 28801