More chamber quartet than string band, alt-folk act MilkDrive takes gallons of influence from bluegrass.
And why not? The Austin quartet features three champion childhood fiddlers — Brian Beken, Noah Jeffries and Dennis Ludiker — who met as children competing at Idaho’s annual National Oldtime Fiddlers’ Contest & Festival. That early connection would bloom years later in Austin, Texas, where the trio reconnected.
Two years ago, the three hooked up with upright bassist Matt Mefford and started MilkDrive, exploring instrumentals Jeffries had conceived. It’s an unusual sound; although inspired by traditional bluegrass, it’s played in a classical vein with a dash of jazz swing, as if “Hee Haw” had a show on NPR.
In the last six months, they’ve added vocals, a featured element of April’s forthcoming full-length studio debut, “Road From Home.”
“The reason we chose that name is where we are now’s a long way from where we started as far as being a band and our style,” said Beken.
For them, it really has been a journey; MilkDrive is really about exploration. For the first 18 months, the guys stuck to their instruments, but began switching during the recording of “Road,” and have been incorporating that into the live show, giving the material an extra spark. Check them out Tuesday at The Deli, 309 White in Norman.
“It totally makes for a whole new setting for whatever the song is,” Beken said. As for vocals, “All of us trying to sing is ... pretty much comedy.”
For more information, call 321-7048 or visit thedeli.us. —Chris Parker