Daily Egyptian

The experiment jams on at Tres Hombres

By Chase Myers, @chasemyers_DE |Daily Egyptian

Playing 200 shows a year may sound like a grueling feat, but it is a good way to garner success quickly and create a solid fan base. 

One band familiar with a packed touring schedule is Flatland Harmony Experiment, a non-traditional bluegrass trio from Indianapolis. They will be performing at 10 p.m. on Saturday at Tres Hombres, marking their debut performance in southern Illinois.

The trio, comprised of Scott Nelson on upright bass, Kris Potts on mandolin and Johnny Plott on banjo, earned a spot in the finals of the 2013 Telluride Bluegrass Festival in Telluride, Colo.

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The band was touring in the area a week before the competition and spent time with other musicians while camping. 

“Every band that was in that contest was amazing,” he said. “It’s hard to judge art … but I feel lucky that we were chosen as one of the top four bands and we got to play on the main stage at Telluride.” 

He said the competition helped the band gain some credibility, allowing it to book almost 200 shows in 2014.

“We never stop booking,” he said.  “Constant playing, I think that’s really the answer.” 

The trio originated from a jam session the three had on the patio of The Mousetrap Bar and Grill in Indianapolis.

Potts and Plott were in a less active band before the experimental session and had been playing together for a couple weeks before Nelson joined in.

“We went through some songs and recorded everything we did and we could immediately do three-part harmony,” Nelson said.  

Nelson said the band maintains a high-energy live performance style. 

“I approach the music so that I’m playing every show like my last,” he said. “We get after it. It’s not just about being fast. There’s hopefully some depth to our music.”

The band has a wide range of influences, as all members listen to different kinds of music, Nelson said.

“We came to bluegrass in different paths,” he said. “This is not a genre we grew up on or anything like that. We found it later in life.”

Nelson said being older than the other two members, he went to several Grateful Dead shows, which introduced him to the world of bluegrass.

Although the band maintains traditional bluegrass instruments and uses one diaphragm microphone for their three-part harmonies, their writing style remains unconditional, Nelson said. 

“We mix it up with a bunch of different tempos, different time signatures and other things that would not be considered typical bluegrass,” he said.

Two new live albums and a studio album are in the works for 2015, adding onto the five albums the band has already released, Nelson said.

“I’m hoping we’re going to continue going out and busting new markets and gaining new fans, but also shopping for bigger opportunities when it comes to management, publicity and agents, trying to take us to the next level,” Nelson said. 

There will be a $3 cover charge at the door.

Chase Myers can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3311

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