Americana Roots: Old Town Flood

American Roots highlights the freshest and most original Americana and bluegrass from across the pond in the US.  It covers everything from brand-new, just out of the box bands, to cult favourites, to established acts who have yet to reach the UK’s shores.  From the historical, bluegrass hotbed of Baltimore is Old Town Flood who are continuing that long legacy of the city with their honest, hard-driving, lyrically-expressive, approach to the old-timey sound.

Name: Old Town Flood.

For Fans Of: Steeldrivers, Mountain Heart, Lonesome River Band.

Hometown: Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

Band Members: Jack Dunlap (mandolin), Mike Gaumer (guitar), Henry Johns (Dobro), Danny Stewart Jr (Bass), Haley Stiltner (Banjo)

Website: https://www.oldtownflood.com/

Discography:  ‘The Roses’ (2019), ‘The Elephant’ (2020)

Background:  “We like to tell personal stories of our everyday lives. Sometimes sad, sometimes angry, and sometimes happy – they are always our own,” explains guitarist Mike Gaumer about Old Town Flood’s highly personal and introspective approach to songwriting.  Those personal stories take life in the band’s music which adheres to a hard-driving sound, balanced by tasteful harmonies, and driven by their lyrical eye.  Gaumer says, “Our approach is modern and witty, and our writing is honest to who we are.”

Old Town Flood first formed in 2018 when Gaumer moved from Philadelphia to the bluegrass-hotbed of Baltimore.  He reached out to longtime friend, bassist Danny Stewart, about finding some folks to get together and play some music with.  Stewart introduced Gaumer to mandolinist Jack Dunlap, Dobroist Henry Johns, and banjo-picker Haley Stiltner.  The five found immediate chemistry and Old Town Flood was born soon after.  The band wasted no time and released their debut album ‘The Roses’ the following year.

Taking their inspiration from Mountain Heart, Carrie Hassler & Hard Rain, and the Lonesome River Band, Old Town Flood craft songs with an eye towards the narrative, recognizing the power of their lyrics and the story they tell.  “We try to portray that emotion with our instruments through tone, key, tempo and approach,” says Gaumer.  “We treat each song as its own novel, so to speak, and try to contribute to it appropriately with our respective instruments and voices.”

The band’s latest album is due to be released later this fall, and stays true to the storytelling aspect of country music that the band is guided by in their songwriting.  Gaumer says the band has been inspired in their approach by the path of Chris Stapleton who has become a breakout star following his time with seminal-bluegrass band the Steeldrivers.  The new album is preceded by the powerful title-track, ‘The Elephant’.  Gaumer says ‘The Elephant’ is a “direct metaphor for anxiety,” and in these troubled times that is something we can all relate to.  It is a song that stays true to Old Town Flood’s stated desire, “To leave a lasting impression on our listeners because it moves them and they can relate to our words.”

What They Do Live:

Author: Tim Newby

Author of books, writer of words, enjoyer of good times. Often found barefoot at a festival somewhere. 'Bluegrass in Baltimore: The Hard Drivin' Sound & Its Legacy' (2015), 'Leftover Salmon: Thirty Years of Festival! (2019)

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