Waybacks loaded with style

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By The Staff

The Waybacks have pulled in at No. 9 on the Americana Radio chart, just a few spots ahead of the South Austin Jug Band, a band Los Alamos audiences know well. At No. 4, the Waybacks stand four spots ahead of Tim O’Brien, another Los Alamos favorite, on Billboard’s Top Bluegrass Albums chart.

The new album, “Loaded,” like the band itself, is doing very well.

“These guys can play like bandits,” said Billboard’s Ray Waddell.

The Best Western Hilltop House will host what promises to be a great, dance-inducing show at 7 p.m. Friday when the Waybacks take the stage for the band’s first show on the Hill – first, that is, for most of its members.

Fiddler Warren Hood has played in the summer concert series previously, only as a member of the South Austin Jug Band. The Waybacks retain the SAJB’s charismatic, folk-friendly sound, but have gone off in a direction all its own.

“The Waybacks are an interesting mix of genres,” said concert producer Russ Gordon. “That’s why I call it Americana – they’ve got everything from blues to jazz to bluegrass to country and certainly rock. All of those are the roots of rock’n’roll.”

The band’s website, www.waybacks.com, touts the groups as being “as uninhibited and unpredictable as the eclectic San Francisco Bay area that claims them.”

To Gordon’s list of incorporated genres, it adds Memphis soul, honky-tonk, Parisian swing, classical music and “vintage blue pop.”

Whatever the group plays, singer, songwriter and guitarist James Nash, who founded the band in 1999, said underlying the Waybacks’ sound – and its success – is the spirit of improvisation.

“Through all the stylistic changes and regardless of the instruments we’re playing,” he states on the website, “to me the fun of this band has always been that in some ways I can do whatever I feel like doing at any moment."

Drummer Chuck Hamilton, bass player Joe Kyle Jr. and Hood, the group’s newest member, seem to agree.

Before joining, Hood said, “I really couldn't put them into a genre, but I guess that’s what I liked about it. I’d rather be in a band that plays a little of everything than a band that lives in one genre all night."

This weekend’s free concert is a production of Gordons’ Concerts and the Los Alamos County Summer Concert Series.