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The Gather Rounders. Courtesy photo.




The Gather Rounders

When: Thursday, Aug. 25, 8 p.m.
Where: Riverwalk Cafe, 35 Railroad Square, Nashua
Tickets: $5; see riverwalknashua.com
Also appearing Friday, Sept. 9, 8 p.m. at Amoskeag Studio, 250 Commercial St., Manchester, amoskeagstudio.com




Feels like home
Gather Rounders play a pair of area shows

08/18/16
By Michael Witthaus music@hippopress.com



 More than any other, bluegrass is collaborative music. Solo players really don’t exist. There are a few foot-stomping banjo pickers, but a lot of them are scouting for a fiddler. Most players are either in a band or looking to start one. A community of players grows steadily around festival campfires, music workshops and open-mike nights.

Case in point is the aptly named Gather Rounders. The acoustic quintet formed two years ago from a Sunday bluegrass brunch hosted by Ron and Wendy Cody at Gather, a farm-to-table restaurant in Maine. Such song circles are staples of the genre; performers drop in, share tunes and size up potential alliances. 
The Down East scene is particularly rich. 
“We are so fortunate to have so many great musicians,” Wendy Cody said in a recent phone interview. “It’s a nice place to live, so it draws people for that reason. ... There are some great venues that have been established over the years, so that really helps too.”
The members of the Gather Rounders — Ron Cody on banjo, Wendy Cody playing upright bass, guitarist Lincoln Meyers and fiddler player Eric Lee — coalesced around the weekly event. 
“People would gather round,” Cody said. “It’s kind of corny, but it kind of works.”  
In November 2015, Caroline Cotter joined the Gather Rounders on vocals and guitar. Cotter is an established singer-songwriter, and her addition marked a shift that can be heard on the just-released EP  The Gather Rounders Live in the Studio. 
“The new EP is exciting because it is almost all original,” Cody said. “Ron writes instrumentals and she writes songs and lyrics. ... it’s nice when it’s coming together.” 
The five-track disc includes a new Cotter original called “Found” and the oft-covered standard, “Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor.” Finally, three songs from Cotter’s back catalog are given a fresh reading. Disc opener “Back on the Train” is transformed from the spare, solo guitar original. The band wraps the travelogue song in bluegrass, and it becomes a buoyant ride in the countryside. 
Another fitting addition is “My Evergreen,” which first appeared on Cotter’s 2015 solo album, Dreaming As I Do. In the liner notes for that record, Cotter called it “a love song from the Pine Tree State, where comfort is found during the cold winters on the Maine coast.” Both songs sound like they were born waiting to become these lush arrangements.
Cody found bluegrass in college, as an offshoot of attending Grateful Dead shows. Soon she was going to folk festivals and contemplating playing herself. 
“There  is a lot of crossover between folk and bluegrass vernacular music,” she said. “Through festivals and music camps ... it  becomes this great little small family of like-minded people that enjoy making music with acoustic instruments.”
She plays a 1938 Kay upright bass nicknamed Olive, and counts her influences from across the musical spectrum. 
“Edgar Meyer, an amazing classical as well as vernacular bassist, and I really like Missy Raine, because there aren’t that many female bassists,” Cody said. “When you find one and you like her style and sound, it’s kind of fun.”  
The Gather Rounders are frequently played on NHPR’s Folk Show, where the New England bluegrass scene is on regular display. It’s demanding music, but Cody and her mates are content, and nurtured by fellow enthusiasts. 
“It gets in your blood when you get to know everyone and you all start jamming and playing together,” she said. “You start to see it’s a really small world with acoustic music. When you’re really into it, you just don’t want to go anywhere else — it’s home.”





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