Although Floodwood is only a year old, the band brings decades of collective experience to its innovative sound. Hailing from the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York, Floodwood is the Northeast’s newest progressive string band. Exhibiting its original brand of newgrass, the band has been tearing up festivals and clubs up and down the East Coast.
“In just about two years, we’ve played about 100 shows, made two albums, written tons of originals, launched a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign and played with some of our heroes, like Del McCoury, Keller Williams, Leftover Salmon and The Infamous Stringdusters,” guitarist Al Schnier said. “We’re just getting started.”
When Schnier isn’t playing with Floodwood, he and drummer Vinne Amico play together in moe., one of the most popular touring progressive rock bands in the country. They’ve also recorded and toured as the Americana group Al & The Transamericans for more than a decade.
Similarly, Floodwood mandolin player Jason Barady spent more than 10 years recording and touring with the bluegrass group Wooden Spoon, from Taos, N.M., until returning to his hometown in New York. Largely self-taught violinist Nick Piccininni learned his bluegrass chops the old-fashioned way — in festival picking circles and at bluegrass festivals. A professional banjo player and fiddler in high demand on the bluegrass circuit since the age of 13, he has toured with The Abrams Brothers, The Atkinsons, The Delaneys and more.
Bass player Zachary Fleitz is a Berklee College of Music graduate and former member of Rochester, N.Y., group Hypnotic Clambake. Fleitz joined forces with Wooden Spoon and has played with Barady and Piccininni for the past few years.
“Floodwood has accomplished a lot within a very short period of time, and we were able to do this thanks to our fans, our dedicated sound engineer Mark Cochi and hard work from everyone at Team Floodwood,” Fleitz said.
Inaugural Colorado tour
To kick off the New Year, the band is embarking on a Colorado tour that includes a stop at three20south on Wednesday, Jan. 15.
“Colorado is the promised land,” Schnier said. “It’s always been a great home to bluegrass music, and we don’t mind making some turns while we’re there. We brought skis and boards — anytime we can ski and play music, I’m happy.”
While Floodwood is categorized as a bluegrass-string band, members of the band describe themselves as “an acoustic band first and foremost.”
“We rock, and it’s definitely not for the ‘blue hairs and lawn chairs,’ but while we may jam and have a sense of humor, it’s a unique group for sure,” Schnier said. “The Transamericans focused more on Americana and our sound featured the pedal steel, B3 and rock rhythm section. While we veered into country and bluegrass at times, the aesthetic was different. With Floodwood, there are no amps and no effects. It’s like a picking party on steroids.”
When asked what it’s like to have five guys from a variety of bands joining forces, Schnier said, “These guys bring everything to the table.”
“I feel lucky to be in a band with them,” he said. “These guys are the best I’ve ever played with, and the energy that Nick and Jason bring to the show keeps us all smiling and on our toes.”