Colorado-based quintet Trout Steak Revival has established itself as a staple in the local bluegrass scene over the past few years. At the Aggie Theatre Friday, the band added another engaging, workman-like performance to its ever-growing resume.
Fiddler Bevin Foley lays down classic bluegrass phrases with a ferocity that keeps the licks fresh and the energy high. But she sometimes opts for slower parts that steer the music into contemplative, dark spaces. When she falls into the pocket, she favors sustained notes that provide a grounding counterpoint to the racing pulse of the music.
Mandolinist/guitarist/vocalist Steve Foltz, stand-up bassist/vocalist Casey Houlihan, dobro player/guitarist/vocalist Will Koster and banjoist/vocalist Travis McNamara form the rest of the ensemble.
Friday’s set began with Foltz on mandolin and Koster on guitar. After four or five songs, Koster picked up his dobro, leaving the guitar duties to Foltz. The dobro’s tone meshed well with that of the fiddle. Typically, Koster thickened the bass end of the sound, while Foley took care of the treble register. On specific pieces, the two instruments blended into the traditional bluegrass groove; on others, they guided the sound into spacier realms.
At its core, though, Trout Steak Revival is a classic string band. The quintet wears the identity well. The members trade licks at brisk speeds and form tight pockets for one another. It is a pleasure to dig through the dense layers of the sound, stopping here and there to appreciate this instrument or that piece of interplay.
The abundance of vocalists adds another engaging dimension. Each singer’s voice brings its texture to the sound, and those textures merge well, allowing for numerous harmonic combinations.
Friday’s set included several songs from Trout Steak Revival’s newest album, Spirit to the Sea, along with plenty of selections from 2014’s Brighter Every Day. The band paid homage to Townes Van Zandt, whom they identify as a key influence, with a cover of the folk ballad “To Live is to Fly.”
Trout Steak Revival is maintaining its chops and developing new material. The band looks poised to contribute to the bluegrass conversation in Colorado and beyond for years to come.