By C.V. Moore
The first year they were “really a band,” The Wild Rumpus fielded offers for New Year’s gigs in some pretty far away places, says lead vocalist Andrew Adkins.
But instead, they’ve made a ritual out of staying home on the big night, playing for friends and neighbors in Fayetteville, rather than complete strangers.
“We decided to try and build a New Year’s tradition in Fayetteville because this is where we live and we get to spend the holidays with family,” said Adkins.
For the fourth year in a row, the three-piece string band will take the stage for a concert at the Historic Fayette Theater on New Year’s Eve. This time around, they’ll be joined by If Birds Could Fly, a special guest from Big Stone Gap, Va.
“We just love Fayette-ville and we want to give back,” Adkins added. “This is a community of people who were our fans when we weren’t any good. What we have today is because of Fayetteville.”
The Wild Rumpus characterize their music as “Appalachian Stompgrass,” with “one foot stomping in the past and one foot stomping in the present.” They’re not old time; they’re not bluegrass; they’re not country.
“We’re a hybrid of our inspirations,” Adkins said.
Their fan base includes parents with young kids, as well as a dance-all-night kind of crowd. For that reason, they offer a choice this New Year’s Eve.
For the fans who don’t want to go out to a bar or stay up to the wee hours to hear the band play, the Historic Fayette Theater show offers a family-friendly environment. Last year, the show attracted as many kids as it did adults, according to Adkins.
But for the rowdier New Year’s revelers, The Wild Rumpus will play a dance set at Pies and Pints in Fayetteville later on that night.
“Some people come to both. Some people come to one or the other. It has just grown and been better every year,” said the singer.
Last year, the band drew about a hundred fans to the theater, and packed them in at Pies and Pints.
If Birds Could Fly, who will open for The Wild Rumpus, describes its sound as “a haunting mix of Appalachian folk, Americana and retro country.” Guitarist Andrew Carter, bassist Joshua Harper and percussionist Andrew Sergent support the powerful vocal stylings of singer Brittany Ashley, whose voice Adkins compares to that of Dolly Parton or June Carter.
The two bands met at the Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion.
“They opened for us when we were on tour in Tennessee and I fell in love with them. Shortly after that they kind of blew up. They are on tour with Guy Clark right now. They did some shows with Steve Miller Band in Seattle. They will be at South by Southwest this year,” said Adkins.
“They are young kids with a passion for writing original music.”
Tonight, The Fayetteville Arts Coalition is throwing open its doors for a concert by If Birds Could Fly. The 45-minute set will begin at 6 p.m. at the organization’s home above the Secret Sandwich Society (103 Keller Ave.). Donations will be accepted for the band and the arts organization.
“They are on fire right now and this is your opportunity to grab a chair and listen to some fine music. We do not have this type of opportunity much in our great little town, so come join us,” said the event’s organizers.
Adkins also has some special recipes up his sleeve to prepare for the Fayetteville Arts Coalition concert.
A number of restaurants in Fayetteville are open on New Year’s Day for post-celebration feasting, including Gumbo’s Cajun Restaurant, which is offering brunch from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The New Year’s Eve show at Historic Fayette Theater (115 S. Court St.) begins at 8 p.m., with doors opening at 7 p.m. Admission is $10.
The after-party at Pies and Pints (219 W. Maple Ave.) begins at 10:30 p.m.
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