ZANESVILLE — One of the most popular musical acts of the region is back to recording albums and playing live following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thy Wayfarers will be performing Oct. 16 for the Apple Butter Stirrin’ Festival in Roscoe Village. The 50th annual festival will be from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 15 and 16 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 17. Admission is $5 with free parking.
The event celebrates the harvest with apple butter stirred over an open fire, heirloom-apple tasting, unique craft vendors, food and children’s games. There will also be demonstrations of spinning, weaving, broom making and more. The village’s center stage will be filled with entertainment all weekend with plenty of bluegrass and folk favorites from The Wayfarers and other musicians.
“The Wayfarers bring a special sound and style that enhances the Apple Butter Stirrin’ Festival atmosphere. We provide the sweet apple butter aroma and they provide the entertainment. They are always able to bring the crowd together, rain or shine, and will continue be a fan favorite,” said Roscoe Village Foundation Assistant Director Casey Brown.
It’s been two years since The Wayfarers recorded their latest release, “Stinkbug Rodeo,” but the album had to be shelved due to COVID-19.
“Like a lot of musicians, the whole music industry came to a standstill, and we were stuck with what to do with it,” band member Brandon Bankes said.
The Zanesville-area group tossed around different ideas, such as a virtual release, but nothing seemed right.
“No method made sense because it’s our first album in a while,” Bankes explained.
The last time The Wayfarers released new music was in 2015 with their “Wild Bacon” album.
So they decided to wait it out.
Once the initial shock of mass cancelations settled, the band got a chance to relax after years of touring every weekend.
“As time went on, I think everybody enjoyed a little bit of free time that the crisis allotted us,” member Nathan Zangmeister said. “We got to spend more time with our families. Some of us picked up new hobbies. It was good in that sense. I think we made best of what we could.”
The band was only recently able to share the music they love.
They came back to where it all began for their album release, Weasel Boy Brewing, where they were met with a crowd of eager fans.
The recording features 20 songs from the 1800s up to early 1900s and one original.
“We had a lot of success with the “Old Muskingum” song kind of referencing local history a couple years ago, so we did another song that references to local history,” Bankes said.
So on “Stinkbug Rodeo,” listeners will find a track referencing the former mining town of San Toy in Perry County.
Now considered a ghost town, San Toy was once home to coal miners who went on strike and destroyed the mine, Bankes explained.
“There’s a lot of like local folklore legend about it,” he said.
The song, “The Ballad of San Toy,” references the disgruntled workers and the frequent shootings that occurred in town.
“It’s kind of a wild west town in Ohio,” Bankes said.
Other songs included in the album tell the story of America.
“This music is very oral based, and what I mean by that is, it’s passed down,” Bankes said.
The band finds music to introduce to the group, then they work out arrangement to make it their own, he explained.
While the music style isn’t something heard on popular radio, Bankes said listeners of all ages come up to them at shows and say they like it. Their annual square dance in Newark always sells out.
“That just goes to show the appeal of I guess traditional roots music making a comeback,” Bankes said.
With a variety of strings and harmonizing vocals, The Wayfarers tell the story of the country through song.
“It’s almost like an identity to America is that style of music. It’s very real, it’s very raw, and I feel like a people are kind of finding their roots back to that style because it’s so woven into our country and the fabric of who we are,” Bankes said.
Now The Wayfarers are traveling the region once more, sharing their music with all who listen.
Members include Brandon Bankes on mandolin, Josh Hartman on guitar, Matt Opachick on fiddle, Justin Rayner on Banjo and Nathan Zangmeister on his homemade washtub bass, Ol’ Tubby.
“I think that each of us individually brings a lot to the table, as far as like musical tastes and musical backgrounds and stylistic differences,” Zangmeister said. “It’s kind of like when you’re making a soup, you know, you throw in a bunch of different ingredients and the whole is greater than some of the parts. I think we all vibe off each other really well, and we all push each other to get better.”
Music can be purchased at live shows or online at www.thewayfarersband.com.