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Michigan ‘Gypsy Ragtime’ Band The Appleseed Collective to Play at Boone Saloon Oct. 9 for Cross-Country Tour

by Emma Speckman

Sept. 5, 2014. Describing themselves as a musical “mix of the ‘Hot Club of Paris’ with the sweaty soul of Dixieland,” Michigan band The Appleseed Collective does not easily fit into any one genre.

They have been on tour for the past year promoting their second album Young Love, released in January on bandcamp.org. Next month they will make their first stop in the High Country to play at Boone Saloon Oct. 9. The show will not include a cover charge and will be open to all ages.

The music, which guitarist Andrew Brown describes as a “pre-World War II fusion with modern songwriting and a progressive tilt,” embraces a style not often attempted by contemporary bands.

“We’re influenced by New Orleans swing, ‘20s and ‘30s style music,” Brown said. “And we’re really into Gypsy ragtime stuff.”

The group is made up of five musicians—guitarist Brown, fiddler Brandon Smith, percussionist-turned-washboard player Vince Russo, vocalist and banjo player Katie Lee and double bass player Ben Rolston.

The Appleseed Collective (by Rob Woodcox)
The Appleseed Collective formed in 2010 in Ann Arbor, Mich.

The Appleseed Collective formed in 2010 after a chance encounter between Brown and Smith. The group immediately began playing small shows in their hometown of Ann Arbor, Mich. but what really kick started their success was “The Great Kombucha Prohibition of 2011,” Brown said.

In early 2011 authorities in Ann Arbor coupled with the Food and Drug Administration briefly banned the probiotic drink, a fermented tea frequently sold at health food stores. According to Ann Arbor News, the drink was under review at the time because its alcoholic content—usually between 0.5 and 2 percent— coupled with the small amounts of natural caffeine present in the drink worried the FDA.

“It’s a big deal up here, so people took to home brewing,” Brown said. “We played a lot of gigs at kombucha speakeasy parties.”

At these speakeasy parties the band would play ragtime, Prohibition-era music that they felt went with the vibe of the situation and reflected the musicians’ interests.

“We’re really into this style of music,” Brown said.

The crowds, apparently, get into it as well.

“Anytime we can get in front of people they love it,” Brown said.

The Appleseed Collective will be at Boone Saloon Thursday, Oct. 9.

They’ve played in North Carolina twice before—at Tir Na nOg in Raleigh and at Roots Bar in Asheville last year.

“We really like the Southeast,” Brown said. “So we’re excited for this one.”

For more information about the band and to hear samples of their music, visit www.theappleseedcollective.com