While its members hail from different parts of the country and divergent sonic backgrounds, a mutual love of acoustic music paved the way for MilkDrive.
The fledgling jazz-grass string quartet fuses not only jazz and progressive bluegrass but also alt-folk, roots rock and jam band influences. And the Austin, Texas-based band is starting to develop quite a reputation for its dynamic musical style that's at once sophisticated and freewheeling.
“We all like everything from rock to just crazy out-there avant-garde type music. We try to throw in really any influences that we have in there,” said guitarist/harmony vocalist Noah Jeffries, who recently spent much of a month off in Oklahoma visiting his wife's family in Tulsa and pals in Tahlequah.
“We do a lot more jam-type stuff live; you know, more instrumental tunes and stuff that really kind of gets more into the jazz part of the jazz-grass.”
MilkDrive will return to Oklahoma City's Blue Door for a performance Friday night and then head to Tulsa to play Saturday night at The Vanguard.
Oklahomans who think they detect a hint of red dirt in MilkDrive's eclectic sound aren't wrong: Jeffries played fiddle for seven years with Harrah native Jason Boland & the Stragglers. His father-in-law, Dana Hazzard, was the original fiddler for Boland's band.
“We're still just kind of trying to hone the sound of what we're doing vocally,” Jeffries said of MilkDrive in a phone interview last week. “That's still more of a new part of this band, as we started three or four years ago as just an instrumental side project. Things are slowly evolving.”
While MilkDrive is only a few years old, its members have known each other for years. Jeffries, harmony vocalist/mandolin player Dennis Ludiker and lead singer/fiddler Brian Beken first met as youngsters competing in the National Oldtime Fiddlers Contest in Jeffries' native Idaho.
“There was a road called MilkDrive and an old abandoned milk factory. They've since like torn the whole thing down,” Jeffries said. “We'd go out there and light fireworks and, you know, just do things we weren't supposed to do as kids. And so that was a memorable thing for us.”