Keep It Simple

This time a year ago, Ashland band Patchy Sanders had an open roster of nearly 19 musicians and songwriters.

Since then, the band has consolidated to include a core group of multi-instrumentalists that includes sisters Danielle and Jacqueline Aubert, their boyfriends Ian Van Ornum and Daniel Sherrill, and a fifth and sixth wheel — Alex Patterson and Eric Jones. Nevertheless, the band's repertoire continues to reflect a broad range of musical influences.

This Saturday, July 20, the band will play Oberon's Tavern, 54 N. Main St., Ashland. Sherrill calls the tavern, with its medieval and renaissance themes, "very us."

The Poet Pistachio will open the show at 6 p.m., followed by folk artist Travis Puntarelli, who hails from Bloomington, Ind., at 7 p.m., and Patchy Sanders from 8 to 10 p.m. The cover is $5 to $10.

Earlier this year, several members of Patchy Sanders moved from the Greensprings to Ashland to be more in touch with the local music scene, but the move did little to urbanize them.

Sherrill says they still enjoy baking sourdough bread, fermenting their own sauerkraut, making mead, foraging for morel mushrooms and wearing clothing made from natural fibers.

"A lot of our day-to-day existence is based on simplicity," he says.

The same is true of the band's music, which is eclectic, original and organic.

"There's something about the purity of keeping music acoustic," Sherrill says. "It's like the energy that was put into these beautiful wooden instruments is still available to the listener."

The band plays acoustic instruments typically associated with bluegrass — guitar, banjo, mandolin and upright bass — as well as harmonica, bouzouki, harp, penny whistle, tambourine and drums.

"We have songs that touch on that traditional, Americana folk, but we have other songs that toss that aside and make you stop and think, 'What is that?' " Sherrill says. "Those songs have odd time signatures and nonsense where we're using our voices to create a percussive element, kind of like beat boxing, but it's really soft and flowy.

"A paramount part of our music is this theatrical, childlike playfulness."

In addition to bluegrass, Patchy Sanders plays Appalachian-style mountain music (courtesy of the Aubert sisters), Irish pub crawl and drinking tunes (courtesy of Von Ornum), and folk and Americana (courtesy of Sherrill.)

The band recently recorded an album at a studio in Weed, Calif. — the same studio where one of their idols, Joanna Newsom, recorded "Have One On Me."

"The album (due out in August) is layered with an intricate orchestration of strings," Sherrill says. "It's a cornucopia of sounds. Not only does the genre change from song to song, but the instrumentation, as well. It's like eating a delicious meal for every song."

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