By Claire Salinas
The Rayo Brothers started out as two brothers playing at a songwriter’s competition, but have grown into a five-man band complete with a banjo, upright bass, fiddle, drummer, and every now and then a mandolin. Previously, they have played Jazz Fest, SXSW, and Festival Internationale, and next week they will be performing at The Varsity Theatre.
The band describes their style as an energetic mix of bluegrass, blues, and outlaw country, which founding band member Jesse Reaux explained is “Influenced by a lot of old country music and folk music. It kind of evolved that way because my brother Daniel is the main songwriter and the lead singer for the band. Growing up, we listened to Appalachian music, folk music, and he also listened to folk writers of the 60s like Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash. When he started writing songs I was just learning banjo, so I started learning banjo with his songs. The banjo kind of inspired us to go in the direction of folk.”
Reaux’s desire to pick up the banjo was inspired by his fascination with a band that came on the scene a few years ago. “If I point to a number one influence for me, it was Crooked Still. They’re a progressive New Grass band and I’ve never [heard] anything like them before. They had a cello, a banjo, and a base. That was my inspiration to pick up the banjo.”
For Reaux, another part of the draw to the folk style is the depth behind the music. “There’s something about hearing Bill Monroe or Ralph Stanley sing a song; it’s so deep. There’s a lot of meaning to those old songs, in a way it’s kind of similar to Cajun music.”
The band hails from Lafayette, but Baton Rouge is a place they’re looking to make their sound a staple in. “Baton Rouge is close to home and it’s a cool place. We’re especially excited to be playing at the Varsity Theatre. We do dress with that old world vibe, and we try to keep a really high energy on stage while interacting with each other and the audience. At our live shows, we usually throw in a few traditional country songs, which we cover in our own style.
Reaux is aware of the prevalent music tastes in Baton Rouge, but feels his band’s music can appeal to all of them. “I understand there’s not much of a folk scene in Baton Rouge, and it’s either radio country or the hipster thing. I would say to those people, that if they see us, they would enjoy what we do. We attract a really diverse audience.”
The Rayo Brothers will be opening for Kevin Sekhani at The Varsity on Sept. 9.
Doors at 8 p.m. and the show kicks off at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at The Chimes Restaurant & Tap Room on Highland Road, over the phone at 866.777.8932, and on-line at www.ticketweb.com.
For more info about the show check out varsitytheatre.com.