The Way Down Wanderers
Equal parts fast-paced and soulful, five-piece alternative folk band, The Way Down Wanderers from Chicago, IL, not only draw listeners in with their energy and originality but also captivate fans with their unique and touching story; banjo player, Ben Montalbano and fiddle/mandolin player, Collin Krause, are half-brothers who met each other for the first time five years ago. The two were shocked to find that not only were they both pursuing careers in music, but that they were each drawn to the same genres. In addition to their unexpected brotherly collaboration, the other band member’s dramatically diverse backgrounds in bluegrass, jazz, classical and rap music, blend together to form unique harmony vocals, soaring instrumentals, lively dynamics and standout melodies.
Austin Thompson – guitar, lead and harmony vocals as well as percussion in the studio. Austin studied music at the collegiate level where he grew as a musician. Austin finds much inspiration for his lyrics in the beauty of nature and his love for hiking. He adds his unique musical influences of rock, folk, and the spoken word to the music he writes and performs.
Collin Krause – mandolin, fiddle, lead, and harmony vocals. Collin became involved in music when he began taking classical violin at the age of three. Growing up around traditional roots and bluegrass music had a big influence on him. Meeting his older half-brother, Ben (also in the band) for the first time at the age of 12 was a pretty cool moment for Collin, especially when he discovered that Ben, who grew up in an entirely different home, was also a folk music enthusiast and full-time musician. Collin enjoys writing, co-writing, and arranging music for the band.
Benjamin Montalbano – Banjo, lead and harmony vocals. Ben, Collin’s half-brother, is an award winning composer whose music seeks to reinvigorate the American music culture. In the spring of 2011, Montalbano was recognized as a finalist by the prestigious ASCAP Composers’ Competition. Ben’s music education allows him to influence the band’s music with his sense of form and composition.
John Merikoski- Drums, Percussion. John has been playing drums since age nine and is featured on dozens of recordings, ranging from Jazz and Metal to Hip-hop and Bluegrass. In 2012 he was awarded a full-ride scholarship to study jazz performance for drum set at the University of Illinois. He is currently finishing up his degree and performs frequently in a wide variety of musical projects.
John Williams – Upright bass. John is a former classical upright bass performance major who also enjoys singing, song-writing and entertaining a crowd.