The lower level coffee house at Valparaiso’s Front Porch Music (505 E. Lincolnway) is the place where region music fans who favor string music will be gathering as the venue presents two nights of back to back concert artists.
The High 48s - who takes its name from railroad slang for the boxcars originally used to transport troops on the front lines in WWI that could carry 40 soldiers or 8 horses - are up first at 8 p.m. on Friday, as they travel the land showcasing and promoting their sixth and latest album, “Great Northern Railroad,” which at press time was nestled at #48 on the Roots Music Report charts. Tickets: $15.
The High 48s features region native and former Front Porch store manager Marty Malone who has not performed on the Front Porch stage since 1997. Malone returns to the region with band mates – Eric Christopher (fiddle), Anthony Ihrig (banjo), Rich Casey (bass) and Chad Johnson (mandolin) – in tow.
The Minneapolis-based group infuses a classic bluegrass sound a la The Stanley Brothers into their expansive collection of original songs creating a body of music that has given them cross generational appeal. The group has earned favor with both older bluegrass fans weaned on Bill Monroe and those younger Mumford-ized fans that only recently discovered string band music.
“When we started back in 2006, we decided we wanted to play more traditional sounding bluegrass so we put on the suits and we started working on traditional sounding original bluegrass,” explained Christopher. “We’re all very studied in traditional bluegrass and know how it’s supposed to sound, but we really wanted to infuse our own influences,” said Ihrig.
“What the band is trying to do musically is to keep interest in the style that we play by furthering it along with newer material,” summed up Marrone. “(We) are always paying homage to the classics but we are finding and presenting new material to the folks that listen to us.”
The High 48s have been working hard walking the line between the past and future of bluegrass for some time and have established quite a name for themselves not only with fans, but with their peers. Among their many accolades and awards, the band won Colorado’s “RockyGrass Band Competition” (2008) and the team of Marrone & Christopher took first place honors in “The Minnesota State Duet Championship.”
Following up on Saturday with an all-ages 8 p.m. show of his own is Peter Mayer, whose humorous and often whimsical songs focus on both spirited and spiritual topics, dealing with the human journey and the mysteries often encountered during one’s travels through life.
After studying Theology, being a church music director for eight years and living in a seminary for two of those, Mayer hit the road to travel across America where his original songs have found an audience in clubs, coffeehouses and on college campuses. For his shows at Front Porch Music, Mayer will likely sample songs from the nine albums he has amassed. Tickets: $18. More: petermayer.net
• Singer/songwriter/recording artist Al Rose – leader of Chicago’s popular recording group The Transcendos – will stray from his tasty original songs on Saturday in favor of being part of a talented collective paying homage to The Boss at Fitzgerald’s (6615 Roosevelt Rd.) in Berwyn. Rose joins Bucky Halker in celebrating Bruce Springsteen’s 65th birthday by covering Bruce tunes with help from Windy City rockers John Mead, Andrea Bunch, John Abbey and Don Stiernberg. Showtime: 8 p.m. More: fitzgeraldsnightclub.com.
Catch Rose and his Transcendos performing his own tunes for all ages during a free performance at 8 p.m. on Sept. 29 in the intimate confines of The Kopi Café (5317 N. Clark St.) in Chicago. More: (773) 989-5674 or alrosemusic.com
• Charlie Daniels will chat about his Oct. 3 concert at Joe’s Bar (940 Weed St.) in Chicago when he makes his third guest appearance in less than a year Tuesday on the weekly Lakeshore Public Radio program, “Midwest BEAT with Tom Lounges,” airing at 6 p.m. Daniels’ previous visits to the show were in December for the annual “Home for the Holidays” program; in April to talk about his latest album “Doin’ It Dylan”; and in July on the “Celebrate America” program.
Tuesday’s appearance will be a retrospective on Daniels' entire career and his rise from session player to Southern-fried superstar, featuring songs and stories by Daniels about his musical journey. More on Charlie Daniels at: charliedaniels.com. Stream the radio show at: lakeshorepublicradio.org/radio.
• Broadway Glass & Customs is asking car and bike buffs to rev their engines for their Oct. 5 “Doggie Days Fall Fest” event (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) featuring classic cars, bikes and bands to benefit Northwest Indiana’s homeless animals. Performing in order starting at 10 a.m. will be pop/country teen band Capernaum, country artist Travis Fugate, and acoustic trio Jack Adams, Aaron Harris & Taylor Garrison, with a closing set by rock band The Mall Rats. For registration and event info, call Ashley at (219) 884-0514.