07 Apr 2017,11:00PM
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What the band needed next was a mandolin player, and Davis remembered meeting one who he thought might fit the bill. Jonathan Wallis, whose rehearsal room in his barn was covered with old photos of the bluegrass giants, was obsessed with the old sound. Davis reconnected with Wallis and invited him to pick with the other players in the band. Wallis’s mandolin brings a strong, rhythmic chop and dark, mountainy tone to Midnight Flyer that compliments the bright drive of Davis’s banjo. His baritone voice has found its place in the standards and spirituals the band loves to play.
Midnight Flyer’s lineup was rounded out when Matt Thomas joined the band in the Fall of 2015, on permanent loan from Philly bluegrass friends (and rivals), “Man About a Horse”. Thomas’s bass tone is playful and inventive, but always just ahead of the beat, giving Midnight Flyer the rhythmic drive audiences keep coming back for. His musical ideas bring new life to the arrangements – and the band was delighted to find out he makes a fine emcee, too.
Philadelphia has seen a resurgence of bluegrass in the last few years with many new bands popping up and old ones resurfacing. Midnight Flyer is making its mark on the scene with the outrageously high harmonies, clean picking, and rhythmic tension that make traditional bluegrass so fun to listen to.