The sounds of Drymill Road may not be loud – or obnoxious – according to banjo player Robert Mabe, but they will make you tap your toes and maybe even love bluegrass music.
"I hope they get a happy feeling. Like when I go see bands that I really like. It's almost like a religion. It really moved me … that's what I want to do. I want to make music that gets people really excited about it," Mabe said.
The band, consisting of Mabe, lead singer and guitar player Sean Loomis, Douglas Ross on mandolin and David Hurt on bass, have played more than 300 gigs since 2009 when they formed.
Now the group is playing a homecoming of sorts – at least for Leesburg native Loomis – April 5 at the Tally Ho Theatre in Leesburg.
The band, named after a staple road in Leesburg, brings bluegrass with a twist to the stage.
"Back in the day we used to have field parties off Drymill Road. It's funny, with the band we'll go out and play and someone will come up to me and say 'I don't know you, but I know Drymill Road man,'" Loomis joked.
The band combines rock, jazz and orchestra and traditional bluegrass backgrounds into a sound of their own. Sure, you can go to a show and hear traditional bluegrass, but don't be surprised to hear covers of Led Zeppelin and Talking Heads.
"We're just moving forward with acoustic, you know, just modern song writers in a bluegrass kind of line-up," Loomis said.
Drymill Road has already produced one CD, written entirely by Loomis, with a second in the works.
"Right now we're in the middle of recording a new one. We've got some really bigger name guest stars that are going to be on there. It's going to be at least 90 percent original," Mabe said.
Loomis, who graduated from Loudoun County High School in 1996, said he draws inspiration in his songwriting from everyday life.
"… It's just all the craziness that you see growing up as a teenager and a young adult. There's lots of different relationships and experiences I've had that fed a lot into the songwriting," he said.
For Mabe and his contribution to the new CD, inspiration comes from a place where every songwriter pulls from.
"It's usually about women and love, whether it's good or bad," Mabe joked.
The group met through fellow musicians at a time when Loomis said he was solely playing acoustic gigs that eventually grew tiresome.
"I hated it. It always bugged me. I wanted to find a way to get an acoustic band to be a rocking band. Just kind of push acoustic as far as I could. It really was just a matter of running into the guys that are in the band now," Loomis said. " … As soon as the four of us got together the momentum just kept building."
The band already has upcoming shows scheduled at the Shenandoah Valley Music Festival, the Riverside Festival, the Watermelon Park Fest and the Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival.
And while Mabe says he's hoping to just keep playing good music, Loomis acknowledged the ultimate goal for the band is to perform in Europe.
"I've done this off and on for years and years and really I'm just trying to make a living doing what I love," Mabe said. "And I'm doing that. If it keeps growing and growing that's great."
Mabe, a North Carolina native, grew up listening to traditional bluegrass. So joining a group with an array of musical backgrounds lent itself to Drymill Road's sound, he said.
But die-hard bluegrass fans shouldn't worry. The band has "an endless supply of bluegrass" in their heads, Mabe said.
The April 5 show will be the first time Drymill Road has played the Tally Ho Theatre.
"It has ground sound. We can't wait to play there," Mabe said.
For Loomis, the gig is more than just a concert. It's about a hometown band bringing back a hometown sound.
"I remember going on early dates there back in the day to see movies and you know my biggest gripe about Leesburg was there was no where to go … It's so cool that the Tally Ho has done this and put on some shows. I think ultimately the people in Leesburg are going to be thrilled by it and have something to do with great music coming in there on the weekend," Loomis said.
"I'm hometown a guy. So whenever I'm playing music in my hometown I think 'this came from here.' This band is from Leesburg or from Winchester. The biggest thing I try to do is show my hometown pride," Loomis said.
If you go:
Drymill Road will take the stage at the Tally Ho Theatre in Leesburg at 7:30 p.m. April 5. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 the day of the show. For more information visit http://www.Tallyholeesburg.com