Americana Roots: Satsang

Americana 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.  Satsang is a reggae-expat living in the wilds of Montana, who writes songs of hope and life and has rediscovered the power of roots music after reconnecting with the peaceful mountain landscape of their home.

Name: Satsang.

For Fans Of: Michael Franti, Gregory Alan Isakov, Head & the Heart.

Hometown: Bozeman, Montana, USA.

Band Members: Drew McManus (guitar, vocals), Stefan Kallander (guitar), Karl Roth (bass), Ben Teters (drums)


Discography:  ‘The Story of You’ (2016), ‘In Between Another Blink’ EP (2017), ‘Pyramid(s)’ (2017), ‘Kulture’ (2019), ‘All. Right. Now.’ (2021)

Background:  “With the exception of a few songs, this record was pretty much written at home in southwest Montana,” explains singer and guitarist Drew McManus of Satsang about the band’s new album ‘All. Right. Now.’.  “I hadn’t had a summer home in like six years, and because of covid I got to stay put for the first time in a while.  I got back outside.  Back into the mountains, on the river, fishing, climbing, all the stuff I used to do before music was a thing.”  Inspired by a return to home and a rediscovery of who he is, McManus and Satsang decamped to a rented house with a finished barn in Paradise Valley, Montana and crafted an album that was a reflection of this newfound freedom at home.  The band’s time in the relaxed seclusion of their rented house lent itself to an environment in which songs came naturally and from a place the band says was “really safe and good.”  The resulting album is a dramatic swerve away from the band’s previous work as McManus reconnected with a roots-ier sound he knew in his youth and that was inspired by his home in Montana.  McManus says the new album is born with “big sounds,” and “elements of country and Tom Petty … A soundscape for the place I live.”

Satsang formed seven years ago when McManus, who had moved back to Montana for rehab after years of living elsewhere, convinced longtime friend Karl Roth to move from Chicago to Montana to start a band.  The newly sober McManus started penning uplifting songs that spoke to his newfound positive outlook on life and Satsang released their stunning debut 2016’s ‘The Story of You’.  Over the ensuing years the band solidified their lineup with the addition of drummer Ben Teters and guitarist Stefan Kallander, and continued to release well-received albums including ‘Pyramid(s)’ in 2017, and ‘Kulture’ in 2019.  Through years of heavy touring they found a mentor in Michael Franti who the band echoes with their reggae-tinged, roots-infused, soul-music that is honest, passionate, and heartfelt.

In an era that is so saturated with unnatural sounds and overproduced music, Satsang, who is built upon the belief that songs should be able to stand alone and reveal their power and soul with just an acoustic guitar and voice, is an oasis of relief.  “Everything else should just be supporting the soundscape in my humble opinion,” says McManus.  “I think people are returning to the heart and leaving the head a bit.  Between politics, the pandemic, etc, it has been a heady couple years.  People need to return to their heart and roots music takes you there.  I want to make songs that make people feel.  If you can win over hearts, the head will follow.”

What they Do Live:

About Tim Newby 59 Articles
Author of books, writer of words, enjoyer of good times. Often found with a beer in hand and barefoot at a festival somewhere. Author of 'Bluegrass in Baltimore: The Hard Drivin' Sound & Its Legacy' (2015), 'Leftover Salmon: Thirty Years of Festival! (2019). New book 'Pete Browning: The Life & Troubled Times of a Forgotten Legend' due out in 2023. Follow him on twitter @Tim_Newby9 .
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