Adam Carpenter, Evan Simula, Jacob Kuhlman, and Jonah Kuhlman are Chasin’ Steel, an Up North bluegrass quartet that’s taken two of their shared hobbies to heart and string.
The band was formed during steelhead fishing season in 2002, said Carpenter, who was a board member of the Marquette Trout Unlimited chapter at the time.
“We all crossed paths and discovered not only our mutual passion for fly-fishing, but also our love for bluegrass music,” he said.
Soon, the four fishermen-slash-musicians started jamming at open mics around town, and, as Carpenter put it, “the response was undeniable.”
“We decided to accept paid gigs, and it just snowballed from there,” he said. “Now, here we are 12 years later with three albums, a slew of great national and international tours, and no plans to quit any time soon.”
CATCHING A SOUND
While Carpenter describes their sound as “bluegrass with a rock and roll attitude,” their strongest influence is that of Jimmy Martin, the American musician known as “The King of Bluegrass.”
“Although we have many influences from many genres, I would say the biggest inspiration probably comes from Jimmy Martin,” Carpenter said. “When it comes to bluegrass, I don’t think anyone had more raw feeling and driving sound than Jimmy.”
Chasin’ Steel structures their instrumentation very traditionally, using all acoustic instruments, and no electric instruments or drums. And as a nod to Martin, they all wear their hats tilted to one side.
“This ain’t yer Gramma’s bluegrass,” he said, “but Gramma will like it a lot, too.”
HOOKED ON TUNES
The band currently has three albums out, including their latest, “Chasin’ Steel Live - Catch and Release Vol. 1,” and they have another live CD in the works that will likely include some new material.
They’re already testing out some of their new tunes on tour, and for their upcoming Aten Place concert, they’ll also be playing fan favorites like “Fly Stuck in a Tree,” “I Know You Rider,” “Copperhead Road,” and their Jimmy Martin tribute.
“Aten Place is a fantastic, intimate performance venue,” Carpenter said. “It has so much character.”
Carpenter credited owners Bill and Maxine Aten for creating the vibe at their Boyne Falls venue.
“They fostered and perpetuated this amazing experience for not only the audience, but for the musicians,” he said. “We are thoroughly looking forward to our July 5th show there.”
So are Chasin’ Steel’s fans, who would presumably be called Steelheads. The band, Carpenter points out, definitely has a niche with folks who like to fish. But their audience is rapidly expanding as they reel more fans in.
“That being said, one of the coolest things we love to hear from folks is that they never really listened to bluegrass before, and now they are hooked,” Carpenter said. “Our sound has a groove and energy that seems to recruit new listeners to the genre.”
Chasin’ Steel will be in concert at Aten Place on Sat., July 5 at 7:30pm. For more about the band, visit chasinsteel.com or their Facebook page. For the full Aten Place schedule, visit atenplace.com.