The Mighty Lonesomes features (left to right) Thad Jacobson on banjo; Phil Johnson on mandolin; Patrick Connell on guitar; and Peter Koelsch on bass.

Time-honored bluegrass

It's a Friday night, and Ashland's Jefferson State Pub is packed. As 9:30 rolls around, it quickly becomes evident that almost everyone in the bar is there for the same reason — to hear The Mighty Lonesomes perform.

Brought together by a shared love of music, The Mighty Lonesomes serve a unique brand of classic bluegrass with a tinge of youthful energy not always linked with the style.

"For some reason it's associated with older people," says bassist Pete Koelsch. "The great thing about bluegrass is that there's something there for young and old; it's fast and energetic, but it's also very traditional."

The Mighty Lonesomes very effectively combine these elements for young and old, a fact that was visibly represented by the diverse crowd. Groups of 20-somethings danced near the front of the stage, while older listeners sipped pilsners and stouts around the perimeter. Still, there wasn't the slightest sense of disconnect in the bar. The consistent thread? All were having a great time, courtesy of the band.

"They are fun to dance to," says Maggie Gammon, a local fan, "and know how to put on a really great show."

The Ashland-based quartet consists of Thad Jacobson on banjo and vocals, Phil Johnson on Mandolin and vocals, Pat Connell on guitar and vocals and Koelsch on upright bass and vocals.

In their Jefferson State Pub performance, the Mighty Lonesomes demonstrated strong instrumental and vocal ability. Steadily picked guitar rhythms, melodious mandolin strumming, dextrous banjo picking, and thumping bass patterns provide the foundation on which all four members of the group lend a voice to create smooth three- and four-part harmonies.

With cited influences like Bill Monroe and Jimmy Martin, the band presented a well-rehearsed set of songs, consisting primarily of time-honored, publicly owned bluegrass tunes, with the occasional original thrown into the mix for good measure.

Although the Mighty Lonesomes are keen to develop their own songs, they are currently focused on honing their abilities as a band.

"We all love bluegrass," Koelsch says, "and there is definitely a right way to do it."

Audience members seemed to think that the Mighty Lonesomes are on the right path, with one unidentified audience member even comparing the group's sound to that of their bluegrass hero.

"They seem to listen to Jimmy Martin an awful lot, which shows that they have good taste."

So what's next for the Mighty Lonesomes? So far, the groundwork has been laid for a full-length album of original songs, while the band continues to rehearse and play out as much as possible.

"We are already booked for the Siskiyou Bluegrass Festival at Lake Selmac next year," says mandolin player Phil Johnson. "We played there this past July and had a blast."

In the meantime, there should be plenty of chances to catch the band in and around the Rogue Valley.

"If there are opportunities to play, we'll be there," says Koelsch of the band's immediate future. "We are having a great time making this music, and the more we explore it, the deeper it goes."

To reach the band, see www.myspace.com/themightylonesomes or e-mail themightylonesomes@gmail.com.

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