The Way Down Wanderers are a folk, soul, and high energy quartet based out of Chicago/Illinois. The guys are Austin Thompson on guitar and lead harmony vocals, Collin Krause mandolin, fiddle, and lead harmony vocals, John Merikoski drums and percussion, and John Williams on Upright bass and vocals. Each one of these young men began playing since they could virtually pick up their respected instrument. Their youth has given them drive and their support and families have kept them grounded. I had a recent conversation with Collin and these guys are hungry. They have an EP out which dropped in 2014 along with a live album, but they have enlisted the help from one of the Avett Brothers, Mike Marsh to help them on their first full length album slated to release sometime this year. They are undeniably humble and gracious to what has come their way.
The Wanderers families are with no question their biggest supporters. Through the recent conversation I had with Collin this evident. He said “being on the rough is tough sometimes, and that’s always a huge boost.” That being their family members out in the crowd singing along, or just being at the show in general regardless their respected families have supported them from the very beginning and seemingly enjoy it just as much as the guys do. The support has come from various angles lessons, encouragement, and according to Collin, “they didn’t hesitate when we decided to quit or jobs and pursue this full time.” It has been all music for these guys since as far back as they can remember and all along their family has been right there by their side.
Their sound is a refreshing take on a folky, bluegrass, Americana style that fits just about anywhere, and oh yeah they are only in their late teens and early twenties. They write their own songs and their harmonies blend well against Merikoski’s driving rhythmic drums. The evidence is there that these fellas have been playing their instruments for a while. Their talent is undeniable and their sound while it may stop you and make you think that you have heard it before, is actually unique all to them. Maybe it is the vocals, or maybe it is just the melodies either way it is nice to hear some young cats keeping the folk/Americana traditions alive and well.
Up next for the guys is recording their first full length album in Chicago with the aforementioned Mike Marsh of the Avett Brothers. According to Collin, “we’ve been putting in 12+ hour days in pre-production” and “we could not be more excited about it.” February they will be off to El Paso, TX and Sonic Ranch recording there, and again according to Collin they are shooting for a late spring, early summer release. In the meantime before all of that you can catch them at The Southgate House Revival TONIGHT!
Lastly, I asked Collin the question I like to ask every musician or creative person; why music? Of all things to do why this? And with his answer I’ll close it out. Check these fellas out tonight. Let em warm ya up with some of their energy folk tunes. Here’s Collin one last time, “At least for me, my family has always been in the arts so it honestly just seems like a normal thing to me. Since as long as I can remember, this is what I wanted to do. I guess it wasn’t ever even a choice for me. It’s just always been what I was going to do.” The Way Down Wanderers taking the music away from home and out to you all.