Morgantown jam band Fletcher’s Grove comes to Huntington with “Appalachian Reaction”
Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch
Ryan Krofcheck will tell you he’s got what feels like an old soul.
This is an important piece to the story of how his band, Fletcher’s Grove, came to be. With its new 10-song sophomore record, “Appalachian Reaction,” Krofcheck will also tell you how important West Virginia is to what the Morgantown jam band hopes to project through its music.
Sure, there are the influences most jam bands will list; The Grateful Dead, and Phish, among other acts. But it was bonding over The Beatles and Led Zeppelin that set middle school friends Krofcheck and percussionist Matt Marion down the musical path that would later become Fletcher’s Grove.
Fletcher’s Grove performs at The V Club in Huntington Saturday, February 2.
Krofcheck, speaking over the phone from Morgantown, said the band’s origins trace back to being friends; Krofcheck and Marion at Hurricane, and lead guitarist Wes Hager and bassist Taylor Pratt at Winfield High School.
“I’ve always said being in a band is like having a girlfriend, and I’ve got four girlfriends, basically,” the singer and rhythm guitarist said, laughing hard.
“I was actually talking about this the other day, having a band from the same area, and having the same upbringing, I think it goes a long way in the end. You have those relationships built. Even our families know each other. Wes’ mom introduced me to my girlfriend, who I’ve been with for over five years now. There’s a lot of ties in there, definitely,” Krofcheck said.
“The emotions are more authentic; I like to write about folk stuff, one song on the new album is definitely the first folk song for Fletcher’s. But just to talk about stuff that happens in the region, it hits home for all of us, being from West Virginia.
“We are the Appalachian state. We want to represent West Virginia, be represented by West Virginia, and be proud to write about West Virginia. Being from the same place, wanting to write about it, sharing our influences, is exactly what we want to have with the CD and the title.”
Since forming for real around 2007, Fletcher’s Grove has become a staple on jam band festivals, and has developed a fan base that allows them to consecutively sell out venues like 123 Pleasant Street in Morgantown.
As the discussion turned to his band’s new record, Krofcheck, mentioning his dad and uncles as big musical influences, talked about old ones.
“I’ve been collecting records, especially from my parents that they passed down. When I go home, if I go to Milton Flea Market, almost every time I’m like ‘I’m not going to get anything for myself,’ and end up walking out of there with fifty dollars worth of records,” he said laughing.
“The album, in its entirety, it died 40 years ago. There’s no such thing as a good album anymore, it’s all just a single. That’s one thing I love about my vinyl records. Now, when I listen to a record, I listen to an A side and a B side. And I feel like “Appalachian Reaction” is very A side, B side. The A side is the stuff we just put out, and the B side is the “Pepperoni Pizza” EP.”
While the new record may have two sides, Krofcheck said he likes the fact that Fletcher’s Grove can take on any number of genres.
“We would like to get to the point where we can play on it a little bit harder, to get to the point where we can do these full-on electronic shows, and then, the next night, do a traditional acoustic, bluegrass show. We’re definitely a genre-hopping band, and that’s something I want to continue to play on.”
He said the band takes their genre-hopping mix of funk, rock, jazz, bluegrass and folk seriously, and the guys work hard at their craft.
“We feel great. We’ve put a lot of hard work into the new CD. The first two years, we put out [“All the Way Home”] and we played that like crazy. And it’s great that those songs now are like, the classic songs. We only play one or two of those a night now. And whenever we do, everyone knows all the words, and everyone sings along. It’s great.”
That connection is amplified when playing in front of thousands of people at any of the big summer festivals the band has played over the past few years.
“I definitely think we’re a festival band,” Krofcheck admitted. “Our intentions with Fletcher’s Grove was to be a festival band. Around the same time we were forming into what we are now, we were all coming back from our first festivals.
“I was 15 when I went to my first Bonnaroo. And when I came back and realized there are hundreds of thousands of people just like me, who want to listen to music, who want to camp, and want to have a really good time. You don’t really see that all the time in Hurricane, especially when you’re in middle school or high school. You’re like, ‘Man, this sucks. I should’ve been born 40 years ago and went to Woodstock.’”
Krofcheck and the band had their own version of Woodstock a few years back at All Good, which saw their hard work pay off.
“Our goal originally, for like four years, was to be on All Good, especially since it was a West Virginia festival. We thought if we worked hard enough it would eventually happen, and it did. We got to hang out backstage with Bob Weir and Phil Lesh, and there’s Les Claypool walking around, just unreal stuff.
“We’re very blessed to have the festival scene, to have all the different styles, which makes up our own music; the bluegrass, funk, jazz, the jamming and the rock. It’s a big melting pot of genres, and that allows us to play all the genres without too much criticism.”
It doesn’t seem like too many fans are complaining about Fletcher’s Grove these days. That some 20-somethings are able to capture and channel a vibe from a seemingly bygone era, and share it with fans young and old, makes it all the more sweet for Krofcheck.
“A lot of those people thought that atmosphere was dead, that it only existed in the 60’s and 70’s. We have fans who drive for hours and travel out of their way to come see us and stay for a whole weekend. That’s what everybody goes there for.”
IF YOU GO:
Fletcher’s Grove w/InFormation
WHERE: The V Club, 741 6th Ave., Huntington (304) 781-0680
WHEN: 10 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2
COST: $10 (incl. copy of Appalachian Reaction)
Posted by WVRockscene!