Three folk acts to rock DG’s Taphouse this Friday


Austin Thompson, Travis Kowalsky, Collin Krause, John Merikoski and John Williams of The Way Down Wanderers perform an instrumental segment during one of their songs at The Maintenance Shop on Mar. 24. John Merikoski, drummer, plays the spoons eliciting loud cheers from the audience.

By: Jacob Beals

Are you a fan of folk, americana or bluegrass music and in need of something to do this Halloween weekend? Then look no further than DG’s Tap House in Ames. Useful Jenkins, The Way Down Wanderers and Good Morning Bedlam will all be bringing music to the venue on Friday night.

Minneapolis based group Good Morning Bedlam is one of the three acts on the bill. They are known for putting a twist on folk music and how it is performed. 

The group is signed with Last Triumph Records, and according to their Facebook bio they are currently recording their second album. This release will follow their debut record, “Prodigal.”

The Way Down Wanderers will also take the stage this weekend, making a return to Ames.  

Member of the group, Collin Krause, said that he and his group enjoy coming to Ames because of the music fans in town.

“Whenever we play in Ames it just seems like people are really there to appreciate the music, and unfortunately that’s kind of a rare thing sometimes,” Krause said. 

Krause grew up with music all around him and he was introduced to the folk and rock genres as a kid through his Grandfather.

While playing in a band out of his hometown of Peoria, IL, he met Austin Thompson, who would later become a fellow member of The Way Down Wanderers.

Thompson and Krause toured together for the first time in 2012. Even though they were both at the young ages of 14 and 18, Krause recalls the tour as a fun experience.

“I don’t remember being scared, I just remember being really excited, and I learned very quickly that if you buy a lot of gas station snacks on tour you’ll run out of money,” Krause said. 

Krause and Thompson’s band eventually broke up. But, after the two brought their talents together and found some new friends, a new project came to be. The Way Down Wanderers.

Since that time, the band has released a few EP’s, a live album and their debut studio album which was recorded in El Paso, TX with help from Mike Marsh who is known for his work as a drummer with The Avett Brothers.

They have also done a lot of touring. Krause said that he loves getting to see the country while on the road, but his favorite part as a traveling musician is having the chance to hang out with his band-mates.

“We have a lot of fun together, we definitely have some really good times in the van,” Krause said. “Just getting to play shows and getting to meet different people is a really cool experience.”

Right now, the Wanderers are touring in Iowa and Colorado. But soon, the band will be making their first appearance in Europe. They have plans to play shows in the United Kingdom throughout Nov. and Dec.

Krause said that putting together a tour overseas seemed like the right thing to do after they received word that there was interest for them in the UK.

“We got a lot of people writing in from Scotland that were interested in hearing the band and we got an article in BBC Scotland, so it just felt like a natural progression to go tour over there,” Krause said. 

The last act that will perform on Saturday, is Useful Jenkins. This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Minnesota based acoustic jam-grass band.

Back in 2007, the band came together through performing shows at a campground outside of Mankato, MN.

Pat Forsyth has been with the band since the beginning. He said it all started out as friends coming together to jam around campfires. But, interest in the group rose and they began to take the project more seriously. 

“We just decided to make it a little more official,” Forsyth said. “People at the jams would ask what our band name was and we didn’t have one at the time, and we just decided to take it to the stage and we grew from there.”

Eventually the band did come across a name. Forsyth said that after a long night of brainstorming ideas, Useful Jenkins stuck.

At the start of anything, 10 years is a long ways into the future. When the band was formed, Forsyth said he had no idea they would make it this far.

“It was just a hobby kind of thing and people really started to like it, and the songs started to progress, and it just kind of grew into its own little monster,” Forsyth said. 

Looking back, Forsyth said he remembers the group’s early days pretty clearly. But, when he considers all of the things the band has done, it puts time into perspective.

“I still remember the days when we were starting it pretty vividly, in that sense it doesn’t seem all that long ago,” Forsyth said. “But, when I start to think about all the miles and all the shows and all the stuff, it seems like it’s been a long time, it’s been great.”

The band has gone through many changes since 2007. Overtime, members have come and gone and the band’s music has evolved because of this. Forsyth said that new members have brought different styles to the table and it has changed the way Useful Jenkins looks at arranging and performing music.

When looking at milestones that the band has crossed, Forsyth said that many shows come to his attention as special ones. He mentioned having close and surreal encounters with artists like The Tedeschi Trucks Band and Willie Nelson at music festivals. 

As for the future of Useful Jenkins, Forsyth said that there is a lot on the horizon and much he looks forward to doing while on tour. 

“I look forward to getting back out to some of the areas we hit earlier this year and reestablishing our presence in other areas, and to keep going outwards and outwards, exposing our music to as many people as possible,” Forstyh said.   

The show at DG’s Taphouse starts Friday at 8 p.m. Tickets are available at Midwestix. To find out more about the show, visit the event’s Facebook page.