The Greencards are an unlikely bunch to be playing bluegrass. But the three founding members — Australians Carol Young (singer/bassist) and Kym Warner (multiple stringed instruments) and Eamon McLoughlin (violinist/violist) from the U.K. — forged a bond with the music while living in Austin, Texas. The band, which was nominated for a Grammy last year for Best Country Instrumental Performance in “Mucky the Duck,” also has a local connection in that they tour with guitarist Jake Stargel, who hails from Lula.
The Greencards will be performing Saturday night at Merlefest, a four-day festival on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, N.C. It’s a festival honoring the musical stylings of Doc and Merle Watson. We spoke by phone with Warner about life on the road and their upcoming grueling schedule.
Question: How does someone from Australia get into bluegrass?
Answer: It’s just the music that was around my family. It wasn’t a normal thing in Australia by any means, but it’s the music that my parents listened to. It was just something I heard and really liked at a young age. I picked up the mandolin at a young age, 14, and been playing it ever since.
Q: When you all met in Austin, was it through bluegrass channels or was it more serendipitous?
A: The things that made us put the band together was our connection to bluegrass. We were just paying in Austin and we realized we liked a lot of the same stuff, which was putting the band together and playing.
Q: How does your music stray from the traditional Appalachian-based bluegrass?
A: We’re not from the Appalachian mountains or Kentucky, so when it comes to being creative, it wouldn’t be natural to be that way. We just write about places we go and people we meet, so that’s a far cry from the mountains of Kentucky. (But) it’s certainly an influence on us.
Q: What was it like to have a Grammy nomination?
A: It was amazing. I didn’t certainly imagine coming from Australia being nominated for a Grammy. You even wonder how that even happens. It was totally out of the blue and an amazing highlight that even though we didn’t win, it’s something you’ll respect and treasure forever, ’cuz that’s a big deal.
Q: Is Merlefest the start of the summer festival season for you?
A: It’s our first major tour of the year. Our album is released (this past Tuesday), so this is all of the above. Because we are on tour and we’re doing a lot of festivals, 20 on the books so far this year, which is really exciting. We fly to Austin (this past Monday) for two days and then we fly to Merlefest and we’ll be out for seven
We’ve had a bit of a break before the record came out to let ourselves get rejuvenated, We‘ve been doing sporadic shows and now we’re really psyched and we are ready to roll.