Bankesters: Looking Forward
After three critically and popularly acclaimed full-length recordings and almost eight years of local, regional, and national touring, Southern Illinois’s first family of bluegrass, the Bankesters, will release their fourth CD (and their second in the last year), Looking Forward, Saturday, May 12 at 7 p.m. at the Liberty Theater. Tickets are $10 and will be available at the door.
Since 2004 Phil and Doreen Bankester, along with daughters Melissa Triplett and Alysha and Emily Bankester, have injected sweet family harmonies into their modern and original take on bluegrass and acoustic music.
Produced by Stephen Mougin, Looking Forward, while showcasing the musical growth the Bankesters have experienced since the release of their first CD in 2008, also pays homage to the musical roots that bind the family together. Taking its title from one of the album’s standout tracks, “Looking Forward to Looking Back,” the collection celebrates the notion of anticipating the future while drawing strength and inspiration from the pains and pleasures of the past.
Although the CD will not be available in stores or released to radio until June 1, founding father Phil Bankester tells Nightlife that those who venture out to the Liberty Theater on Saturday will get a taste of the new music as well as a chance to purchase advance copies. He also says that it’s a pleasure for the family to return to Southern Illinois to say thank you to local fans and supporters who have been the foundation of the group’s success from the beginning.
“We’re very excited about it,” Phil Bankester says. “This is our fourth CD. We released our last CD not even a year ago. We weren’t able to have a local event for that one. We had a Nashville release at the Station Inn, but we really wanted to have a local event to celebrate this new one.”
While the family group draws inspiration from Alison Krauss and Union Station, the Cox Family, and the Issacs, with whom the Bankesters have performed, those who have not yet had the chance to sample the band’s music should not expect the typical twang-laden instrumentation and harmonies normally associated with bluegrass. All of the Bankester daughters are classically trained musicians and singers who still teach private lessons, and the class and discipline of their formal training comes through both on stage and on record, along with the feeling of home. (They have recorded all of their CDs in the Bankester house.)
Although the group has changed over the years with the growth of the Bankester daughters and Melissa’s marriage to Kyle Triplett (who joined the band in 2007), after a lifetime of making music, Phil Bankester says that the greatest reward of playing with family is simply that-- playing with family.
“There’s nothing like the harmony that siblings have,” he says when talking about the close and unique musical blend between his daughters. “I think the greatest reward is simply that everybody still wants to do this after all this time. Everybody is growing up and wanting their own lives, and nobody wants this to be their full-time gig. But it’s great that the girls still want to get on that bus and go make music with us. That’s the most exciting thing.”
Another national tour to support the new CD is in the works, and the band will soon head to Branson, Missouri, for yet another engagement at Silver Dollar City, where they have played extended engagements for sold-out crowds. First, however, the group hopes that fans of their previous CDs will come out Saturday to enjoy a sneak peak at their forthcoming effort.
“It’s going to be a great night,” Phil Bankester says. “We’re really excited, and we hope everyone will come out to have fun with us.”
For more about the Bankesters, visit their website at <http://www.BankesterFamily.com>. Hear the title track from Looking Forward in the MP3 section of Nightlife’s web project at <http://www.CarbondaleRocks.com>.
who: Bankester Family
what: bluegrass CD release party w/ Nu-Blu
where: Liberty Theater
when: Saturday, May 12