A ROAD, A JOURNEY

“On Time” reflects a band growing, maturing

by Erika Firestone

Some say that Harrisburg-based band Colebrook Road helped pave the way for bluegrass in central Pennsylvania. But that’s not necessarily how the band sees it.

“Bluegrass chose us,” said founding member and mandolinist Wade Yankey.

Yankey described how he and Jesse Eisenbise, lead guitarist and vocalist, were introduced through a mutual friend over their love for the genre.

Now a well-rounded, five-piece ensemble including Joe McAnulty on fiddle, Mark Rast on banjo and Jeff Campbell on upright bass, Colebrook Road’s original sound exudes the confident cohesion that comes as a result of a decade of playing and touring together.

On May 3, the band will officially release its third full-length album, “On Time.” The recording demonstrates what Colebrook Road has become known for—timeless harmonies and a progressive, new take on the genre.

For the album, Eisenbise took the lead on songwriting.

“I usually have an idea pretty well fleshed out and bring it to the guys to arrange collaboratively,” he said.

McAnulty chimed in, describing how fun the process is when a new song is brought in and ideas start to float around. Along with their most complex arrangements yet, the songwriting for the new album has taken on a more personal turn regarding subjects such as love, family and loneliness.

“On Time,” the name of both the album and its first single, reflects a relatable theme that defines the dynamic of the band. Despite holding full-time jobs and raising families, band members make time for their music.

Yankey related how the song is about all of the stress that fades away when it comes time to play.

“After squeezing out of work early on a Friday and fighting traffic to places like D.C. or Baltimore, getting on stage is just a sigh of relief,” he said.

To support the album, members are excited to get out on the road, heading out as far as Washington state and to bluegrass festivals across the country, including Grey Fox, a seminal, four-day festival held each summer in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York.

But, wherever they go, band members take a little bit of home along wit them. A map of the state reveals several rural, winding Colebrook Roads that connect small towns. The name itself is a metaphor for their music, which has taken on even more meaning over the years as they connect intimate, back-country vibes to the more modern and distinct Pennsylvania sound that they have helped to forge.

2018 was a particularly big year for the group, as they signed with Virginia-based Mountain Fever Records, where they recorded “On Time” in one weekend. Eisenbise described how far they’ve com over a decade, a journey that started with recording their first, self-titled album in his basement.

“It’s a progression that complements how we’ve grown together as a band,” he said.

This article appears in the April 2019 issue of The Burg, available free in Harrisburg and the surrounding areas.

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