Illinois bluegrass combo to close out CityJam


In its two years of touring, Old Salt Union has been to more than 40 states.

The Belleville, Illinois-based bluegrass band has performed in Indiana but never before in Seymour.

On Thursday, the group will get that chance as it closes out the third season of Seymour CityJam, conducted on a stage set up on Second Street between the railroad tracks and Ewing Street.

“We dance all around the southern half of Indiana, so it’s nice to add a new star on the map,” said Jesse Farrar, who plays bass and sings for the band.

Food and drink stands will open at 5:30 p.m., and the free concert will start at 6 p.m. It’s presented by Southern Indiana Center for the Arts and sponsored by Jay C Food Stores, JCB, Seymour Crossing and The Tribune.

“CityJam is right up our alley as far as events go,” Farrar said. “We are strong supporters of the arts and community. We thoroughly enjoy meeting new friends all across the United States, and events like these are full of good people.”

Old Salt Union describes itself as the new generation of bluegrass in the industry. The group finds influence in the bluegrass roots of The Del McCoury Band and Sam Bush but also draws inspiration from Bill Evans, Danny Elfman, Punch Brothers and other musicians.

The thing that sets Old Salt Union apart is its “ability to stretch the boundaries of traditional bluegrass music by incorporating in-depth musical arrangements, a catchy hook and an uncanny pop sensibility,” according to its website.

“I don’t know if we actually made a decision to go that route. I think it just happened naturally,” Farrar said. “We have musical backgrounds ranging from collegiate-trained jazz players to collegiate-trained classical players to masters of the jam scene and even producers of hip-hop. The arrangements that we create are a reflection of the array of styles flowing through the Old Salt Union veins.”

Farrar said the band formed in May 2012 through old friendships, previous bands and family members. John Brighton and Justin Wallace were in another band together for several years. Ryan Murphey and Dustin Eiskant are lifelong friends. Eiskant and Farrar are first cousins.

“The band started as a trio, and John and I joined a little down the road after a few successful sit-ins,” Farrar said.

In October 2012, the band recorded its debut album, “Western Skies.” It was independently released in March 2013.

“I think it was necessary for us to release something that soon,” Farrar said. “We all came from very different musical backgrounds, with all of our own ideas of how this band was going to work or sound. So getting our initial ideas out and kind of clearing the air was essential. Once the first 11 songs were written and recorded, our minds were free to start composing music as a unit, which we continue to do to this day.”

Following the album release, the band quickly developed a fan base. In January 2014, Old Salt Union began touring the country.

Touring is the biggest part of the band’s job and also the most fun, Farrar said.

“Getting to actually reach the people that enjoy our music is so important, and we try our best to touch every place physically that our music does,” he said.

The band hasn’t toured in the northeastern states, but Farrar said they plan to do that next year.

“We try to make an effort to get out and enjoy whatever city we are in to the fullest,” he said. “If we arrive early to a town, we try to see what it has to offer. We hike a lot, eat a lot and laugh a lot. It’s a good thing we’ve got going.”

The group has appeared at several music festivals, played on stage with well-known bluegrass musicians and earned a few awards along the way.

Farrar said Old Salt Union is a live band, meaning it is at its best in front of a crowd.

“Some bands come alive in the studio. We come alive on stage,” he said. “People can expect a high-energy show with dramatic arrangements, a few good laughs and one heck of a good time. Our hope is that people leave feeling better than they did before we started.”

The band tries to stick with playing its own material, but some cover songs are included in a set. In August 2014, the band released its second album, “Bridge.”

“We are fans of music just as much as we are the creators of music,” Farrar said. “If we do play covers, we try to play songs that people wouldn’t expect to hear out of a ‘grass band.’ Lately, we’ve been playing a lot of ’80s tunes, which have been a hoot for us to play and for the crowd to enjoy.”

Farrar said the group is ready to present that music at CityJam.

“We are extremely excited to be coming to Seymour and look forward to meeting new friends while playing good tunes,” he said.

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”If you go” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

What: Seymour CityJam outdoor concert, presented by Southern Indiana Center for the Arts and sponsored by Jay C Food Stores, JCB, Seymour Crossing and The Tribune

When: 6 p.m. Thursday

Where: East Second Street between the railroad tracks and Ewing Street in downtown Seymour

Who: Old Salt Union, a contemporary bluegrass band

Cost: Admission is free, but food, drinks and desserts will be sold by The Pines, Bartholomew County Beverage and Orange Leaf; donations also will be collected for Southern Indiana Center for the Arts

Information about the band:


No posts to display