Interview: The Gage Brothers

“We grew up playing music, but it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that Ben and I started playing together,” recalls Zach Gage of appropriately-named, Ohio-based, rootsy string band The Gage Brothers. “There is five years’ difference between us, and most of our lives, we were more interested in picking on each other than working together,” laughs brother Ben. “We were each doing our own thing, but at that point in our lives, neither of us really had an outlet for our music,” adds Zach. “We came together and it worked.”

The pair started experimenting with traditional folk songs, paying their dues at local open mic nights, and picking up brothers from other mothers–mandolin player Brendan O’Malley banjoist Chris Volpe–along the way to round out the lineup. “We played as a duo for about a year and a half, but that second year, we ran into Brendan O’Malley, who was a bartender at the venue we were playing. He messaged us and said he was a mandolin player and asked if he could sit in with us. We said what the heck, at the very least, he’s the bartender so maybe he will give us a few extra beers,” laughs Ben. “He sat in and he was fantastic. That same month we met Chris Volpe at a show; he was playing guitar and is a singer/songwriter who also plays banjo; he sat in with us at a pig roast we played. We fell in love. They’re great guys.”

The newly-minted Gage Brothers lineup set about blazing a trail and making rootsy tunes to feed the souls and delight the ears of the eager masses. “We grew up in a working family in a farm town. That style of music always resonated with us,” explains Zach. “It felt true to who we are. There’s not a large bluegrass scene here yet, and sometimes it can feel like we’re doing our own thing our own way, which can be good but can also be more work at times,” he adds. “We’re proud of it though, and we hope this style of music in this scene will catch on and reach a wider audience.” “It’s a very blue collar state, there’s a lot of industry and industry attracts a certain kind of person; there are a lot of hard-working people here,” says Ben. “Folk music is big here, bluegrass is up-and-coming. It’s exciting to be on the cusp of that.”

Now, the four-piece is preparing to release their self-titled sophomore album on Friday, May 5th; “On this album, there are blues tunes, bluegrass, folk, and Americana,” explains Ben. “When we first started, a big thing for us was harmony; over time, we discovered more music and wrote more music inspired by more people. Having two other people in the band who could sing gave us more harmonies, and this album showcases what we do live, we love that four part harmony,” he concludes of their honed sound. “It sets our music apart.”

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Susan Hubbard

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