Country band Boy Named Banjo will hit the stage at Natalie’s Grandview to celebrate its new album “Dusk” on Friday alongside opener and singer-songwriter Cassandra Lewis.
“Dusk,” which was released Sept. 29, deals with the themes of “lust and longing” alongside “hope and heartbreak,” according to a press release from music marketing agency Missing Piece Group. In its recordings, the band captures the vibrant energy of its live shows, implementing influences from music scenes like Music Row in Nashville, Tennessee, and Laurel Canyon in Los Angeles to create a mix of harmonies and cinematic arrangements, the press release states.
Born and raised in Nashville, Boy Named Banjo includes banjoist Barton Davies, guitarist William Reames, mandolinist Willard Logan, drummer Sam McCullough and bassist Ford Garrard. With a personal history that dates back to Garrard and Logan’s early childhood, Boy Named Banjo was officially formed in 2011 when the duo met McCullough in college, Davies said in an email.
“Ford [Garrard] and Willard [Logan] actually went to pre-school together, and William [Reames] and Willard played in their middle school’s rock band together,” Davies said. “William and I met in high school and started playing bluegrass after school. That’s also when we started the band.”
From there, Davies said the band’s remaining pieces snapped into place with time.
“We immediately got Willard [Logan] to join, and Ford [Garrard] played on some of our very first shows before joining the band later on,” Davies said. “We met Sam [McCullough] in college, because we were looking for a drummer, and he was dating a girl who lived next door to Willard’s parents where we would meet up to rehearse.”
Before McCullough and Garrard joined the band, Logan, Reames and Davies made Boy Named Banjo’s first folk album, “The Tanglewood Sessions,” which notably possesses less of a rock sound than the group’s more recent music, Logan said in an email.
“As we started to get more serious, we were playing out a lot more and realized in order for us to grab people’s attention, we needed to amp up our sound a bit,” Logan said. “I started playing the electric guitar a lot more than the mandolin, and that was also around the time that Sam and Ford joined the band. They both added a good deal of rock influence to our sound, which created that folk-rock blend that we have going on now.”
Boy Named Banjo mostly takes inspiration from musical artists its members enjoyed listening to in their youth, Davies said.
“Back then it was a lot of Avett Brothers, Infamous Stringdusters, SteelDrivers, basically anything with a banjo,” Davies said. “When William [Reames] and I made the connection that we were both listening to similar music, the first thing we did was try to play some of those songs and that’s how everything kind of got started.”
These varying musical influences draw from several different genres, including bluegrass, rock and heavy metal, McCullough said in an email.
“Basically, if you throw all of that into a blender with a heavy dose of harmony and a little bit of country songwriting, you get Boy Named Banjo,” McCullough said.
Once the band’s members graduated college — and after Garrard became the band’s permanent bassist — Boy Named Banjo began touring nationally, Reames said in an email.
“We started to tour heavily for the first time, so we really needed a bass player,” Reames said. “Barton [Davies] actually ran into Ford [Garrard] at a party in Nashville and asked him if he wanted to go on tour. Ford [Garrard] quit his job the following week and never looked back!”
Boy Named Banjo considers performing live the most exciting and rewarding part of professionally making music, Garrard said.
“This year, we played the Grand Ole Opry, which was incredible,” Garrard said. “We’ve opened at the Ryman Auditorium and played a couple of our favorite festivals like Bonnaroo and Pilgrimage.”
Davies said seeing fans’ reactions to live performances is always exhilarating.
“It’s just really cool to see what people are reacting to,” Davies said. “You spend so much time making the music, and you never know how it’s going to be received, so it’s always a lot of fun to put the songs to the test for the first time.”