Wolfpen Branch to Headline Friday Performances at the Lowertown Arts & Music Festival in Paducah
Lexington-based band Wolfpen Branch will headline Friday night of the Lowertown Arts & Music Festival in Paducah. Guitarist and singer Arthur Hancock speaks with Tracy Ross ahead of the band's performance.
All the members of Wolfpen Branch are accomplished solo musicians in their own right, and Hancock says this has made for easier performances overall. "You're able to pass the baton around during the show and contribute as a team effort. It's always a lot of fun," Hancock says.
"Having guys that are used to being the primary vocalist or leader of the band, we've all obviously worked with people in the past who all supported and worked together, because that's what it takes to be in a band. Having that support—after singing a song, Chris might sing one, Aaron, Roddy, it makes for a nice flow and a different dynamic. It's not as hard when you play a number of shows in a row. It's a lot easier on the vocal cords, I'll say that."
In addition to Hancock, a fifth-generation Kentuckian from Bourbon County, KY, the band includes Rodney Puckett on bass. Hancock and Puckett played together as The Wooks starting in 2016. Aaron Bibelhauser, from Louisville, is on banjo. "He was in a band called Relic, which played festivals and performances all around Kentucky and Louisville," Hancock explains.
"I grew up in my formative years of wanting to become a musician seeing a guy named Chris Shouse," Hancock continues. "He's not much older than I am, but he was in a band called the 23 String Band that was based out of Louisville. I saw them headlining festivals and playing big shows, and entertaining lots of folks. Chris always was a friend [and] inspiration with his energy and showmanship and performance."
After leaving The Wooks, Hancock and Shouse started performing together. Eventually, the two decided to include Puckett on bass "because it's a lot more fun to have a bass player when you're playing bluegrass." Then, the trio added Bibelhauser on banjo and Jeff Guernsey on fiddle. "He's one of the greatest musicians I've ever met," Hancock says.
Hancock says that the band is excited to see live music returning on a larger scale during Wolfpen Branch's first year as an established group. "It's fun to practice in the house, but when you're out playing for a bunch of people and folks are excited, it's a huge exchange, and it means a lot to us."
The recognition and praise Wolfpen Branch has received in its first official year means a lot to the group. "People always say you gotta pay your dues in music, and it's nice to know the work we put in our other groups and our own careers over the years, it's paying off. Folks recognize us and have seen us perform before and are just excited to see us continue playing music and doing it in a different group. It's definitely helped with promoters. It just feeds into the future."
Wolfpen Branch performs "high-energy bluegrass with a twist," Hancock says. "We definitely do some things that are a little different, but when it comes down to it, our favorite thing is to play some bluegrass music. So, we'd love to see any and all people down in Paducah, and we're very excited to be there."
The band goes on at 8 pm on Friday, May 13th. Wolfpen Branch will continue its festival circuit after the Lowertown Arts & Music Festival with ROMP in Owensboro and the John Hartford Memorial Festival in Springville, Indiana.
Hear the full interview here: