The Vinegar Creek Constituency
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The Vinegar Creek Constituency

Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2016 | SELF

Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2016
Band Folk Bluegrass




"(Direct quote)"

"What a pleasure to have such a fine band in the World Cafe Performance Studio. They were outstanding!
Fine songs...excellent arrangements... I am truly impressed with Vinegar Creek Constituency!"
-Gene Shay, host of The Folk Show, 88.5 WXPN Philadelphia - -Gene Shay, host of The Folk Show, 88.5 WXPN Philadelphia

"Vinegar Creek Constituency"

April 18, 2013

In Newtown Square just south of Route 3 on Route 252 in a dull, typical strip mall stands a surprisingly upscale coffee joint. I went out to Burlap and Bean on March 9th to see Foxhound. The venue runs a tight ship; if you arrive during a set you can only enter between songs. While I waited for Foxhound’s song to end I was told there were stools toward the back of the room, not to block the aisles because it creates a fire hazard, and that drinks utilizing the espresso machine could be purchased during intermission. Like I said it’s a tight ship, but for good reason. As Vinegar Creek Constituency front man Leonardo DiSanto later said it’s a “pin-drop” sort of venue.

I stepped in through the door and immediately bowed my head to the floor. It was like that old cliché where the not-so-tough dude walks into the wrong bar, conversation stops, and all the roughnecks turn their heads and stare. I would've been more comfortable in the cliche but in this scenario the bikers and rednecks were relatively affluent baby boomers. I kept my eyes cast downward and hurriedly scuttled to the back of the room. If you show signs of submission then the aging rich will judge you less.

Sadly, I arrived too late to hear Foxhound play more than one song but, after a brief intermission, Vinegar Creek Constituency took the stage. Their set played out nicely. The music they play is bluegrass and folk with just a tinge of pysch. They warmed up the slightly stiff audience with their alt-psych-folk tunes, and gently nudged them into straight-ahead up-tempo bluegrass. A couple of 60-somethings took to their feet and gently swayed with the beat. Another white haired man sat at the edge of his seat, khakis riding up his shins exposing long white socks, enthralled by the bands’ riffage; well into middle age but expressing the rapture of a 6 year old. One woman stared at her phone for much of the set; she must’ve been engaged in an intense game of Sudoku.

Halfway through, guitarist, front man, and primary song writer DiSanto said he typically calls out songs to the band but for this venue he created a set list to follow. I asked him in an interview if he planned the build he created in this show. He attributed it to luck but I attribute it to skill whether it’s conscious or innate. From the heavy lilt of ballads like “Shadows” and “No Darlin’ One” to the frenetic pick-fest that is “Brad Lidge Breakdown” or the fever of the almost gospel “Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah”, Leo DiSanto knows how to set the tone.

“Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah” isn’t quite a gospel. It sings for joy in your bleak, hopeless life. Through the course of the song he presents you many of the factors contributing to your melancholic existence and gives you the best reason to love it. In more poetic words he sings, ‘if there’s no god, praise god!’ If everything is just what it is and nothing more, if there is no greater meaning to life then, “What the hell, Hallelujah!”

“Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah” appears on the bands’ 2013 release Don’t Go Back in Time. There are many reasons why you should listen to this album but that song is a big one. The core of the group, Leo and mandolinist Jeff, are taking a quick jaunt up north as the Vinegar Creek Constituency Duo. They’ll be back to their Lancaster County stomping grounds April 26th where they’ll be playing Shanks Tavern. And if you’re looking for a classy night out with your babe you should check out Burlap and Bean. Don’t forget the bottle of wine; it’s BYOB.

- The Watchtower Music Blog

"The Vinegar Creek Constituency at Home Grown Cafe"

The Vinegar Creek Constituency at Home Grown Cafe
April 4, 2013

By: G.D.Rocha
Edited By: Bryan Pentoney

Adding to the diversity of sounds casually heard within its premises, Newark’s Home Grown Cafe hosted Lancaster, Pennsylvania’s own bluegrass quintet The Vinegar Creek Constituency, last Saturday March 30th, for a three-hour performance of some of the best that the Allegheny region has to offer. Composed of singer and guitarist Leo Disanto, fiddler/harmonica player Pete deVitry, banjo/dobro player Mark Rast, mandolinist Jeff Bryson, and stand-up bassist Mike Gordon, the Constituency both soothed and agitated a busy and reciprocal venue with the lush and heart-felt sounds of the American heartland.

Employing an uppity and sped-up gospel sound, filtered and refined by what seemed like a crafty and capable songwriting team, the Constituency chugged fast and recklessly down the arteries of American music. In a dexterous combination of a slew of genres that were regurgitated with the sound and honesty characteristic of Appalachia, the Constituency displayed a transparent exhibition of a group intimately versed in all forms of Americana.

Accommodating the pain and homesickness of traditional Southern blues, into the framework of outlaw and rugged country/hillbilly folklore, piled onto a solid bass line of enveloping and transcendental West Virginian bluegrass, the Constituency relished in its ability to project a sound bereft of any pretension instead bringing together a masterful combination of harmonies and rhythms dripping with reality. This was attested promptly by a number of stomping feet, clapping hands, and dancing couples. Powered by the raspy and shattering vocal performance of Di Santo-whose lyrics strayed successfully from the cliche, and captured both the mundane and the profound with a very commendable and appropriate stupor- the group exuded a magnetic and captivating swirl of rawness and spirituality.

Unlike many of the groups evoking the same genre currently in vogue, the Constituency permeated a sense of realness as thick and embalming as the bass notes streaming out of Mike Gordon’s stand up piece. With the bewitching melodic back up of a trio of virtuosos in Bryson, Rast, and deVitry, the collective traversed a wide span of emotional and philosophical statements supported by a heightened simplicity and unequivocal dedication. Deposed of the often employed and hindering gimmick of a full drum set or percussive section, the Constituency laughed in the face of pretension seen too often these days in many a hipster ensemble, by relying on the thunderous strings of Gordon’s bass as well as on the sharp and haunting harmonies inserted into each of the compositions. Composed both elaborately and soulfully the numbers which ran on the power of multiple vocal inputs, very eloquently served as stepping stones and vantage points for each of the band’s solo instrumentalists during their many incendiary and savory displays of artistry.

With an all-American poise and sense of cool, the group wrapped up its set with the gusto and fire with which it started. Pulling the strings of harmony, lyrical prowess, and philosophical/artistic integrity, the Constituency left little beyond a shared sense of audible depuration on the side of the crowd.

With a straight-forward and unpretentious approach, the Vinegar Creek Constituency regaled a thrilled crowd of music aficionados with a cool, calm, and collected dose of Americana, successfully inserting itself into the vibrant and eclectic web of sounds waiting to be sampled in the Tri-state area. - The Flinging Times

"Review: Vinegar Creek Constituency - "Don't Go Back in Time""


Vinegar Creek Constituency will celebrate the release of their third album with a show at Lancaster’s Chameleon Club on Friday, January 11.

Don’t Go Back in Time includes 14 heavily road-tested songs. Fans will be able to sing along to most of it on the first listen. The entire album was recorded live to 2-inch analog tape, with no edits or overdubs, effectively capturing the delightful, old-timey string-band hootenanny fervor and bluegrass-meets-vaudeville charm of their live performances.

Vinegar Creek hails from Lancaster County and has lead singer and guitarist Leo DiSanto at its helm. The five-piece ensemble also includes Jeff Bryson on mandolin, Pierre de Vitry on fiddle, Mark Rast on banjo and dobro, and Lemuel Burnett on upright bass. The entire group contributes to stellar vocal harmonies, with Bryson trading off with DiSanto for lead vocal duties on several tracks (the songs he wrote). This is a band full of expert musicians, and the album showcases everyone’s talent in equal measure.

It also showcases everyone’s songwriting prowess. DiSanto carries the bulk of that responsibility, but Bryson’s chops are highlighted on the sweet ramble of “What’s Left,” and “Gone” and the haunting “Shortest Way Down.” The track list is nicely balanced with the instrumental beauties “Banjo Valentine” and “Brad Lidge Breakdown,” written by de Vitry and Rast, respectively.

The album also includes “The Moon, A Silver Dime,” a song from DiSanto’s solo album of the same title. Here, with the full band, but all acoustic and without percussion, it becomes something wholly different, a testament to the distinction between a Vinegar Creek Constituency show, a Vinegar Creek duo (DiSanto and Bryson) show, and a DiSanto solo performance, though all three may include some of the same titles in their setlists.

They leave us with two farewell songs: “Goodnight One and All” and “Wild Winds of Misfortune,” which DiSanto wrote when fellow Lancaster County songwriter Steven Courtney challenged him to write an Irish drinking song.

The old-timey feeling toes the line but never quite overshadows Vinegar Creek Constituency’s fresh take on older styles. They maintain a perfect, deliberate balance between reverence and modernization. The title track may illustrate it best; it sounds like a song passed down from generation to generation, until you realize the lyrics make reference to Night of the Living Dead. It goes on to warn of the dangers of being wistful for what’s already gone: “You give away most / of your love to a ghost / when you long for the good old days.”

Above all else, Vinegar Creek Constituency are masterful storytellers, in the tradition of American folk and country, but they continue to defy classification. Don’t Go Back in Time is the best representation to date of their particular amalgamation of various musical styles. - Tristate Indie


Still working on that hot first release.



American songs are full of deranged old ghosts howling at the moon. Vinegar Creek Constituency, an eclectic, incendiary string band out of the PA Dutch Country, channels these venerable old ghosts of the American folk tradition through imaginative, emotive original songs delivered with rock n roll intensity. Full of shouting, floorboard-stomping soul, their live performances are uplifting, high-energy events with fans dancing in the aisles and clapping, stomping, and singing along.Like their folksong forerunners that took root around campfires and on back porches across America, the songs call out from the crossroads of light and darkness. They are dreams of Heaven alongside visions of Hell; songs in praise of love alongside tales of murder and the madness of lovers betrayed; songs that ride the rails, wander the countryside, rise from the grave, and cackle in the face of impending doom.The musicians of Vinegar Creek Constituency come from diverse musical backgrounds that range from formal Classical performance to experimental garage Rock to traditional Old Time Appalachian string band music to Gypsy Jazz. Consequently, the band’s sound encompasses elements of many styles, including super-charged bluegrass, early Sun Records-era rock'n'roll, swing, vaudeville, outlaw country, and ragtime.The Vinegar Creek Constituency was first conceived in 2005 by DiSanto, a Lancaster Pennsylvania singer/songwriter then fronting a rock and roll band called The False Bottoms.  The group's first (and for a long time only) show was at Lancaster's storied Chameleon Club, opening for Appalachian guitar legend Larry Keel (who sat in with VCC for a Bill Monroe tune). All of the band members were with other groups at the time, and the Constituency played only a few sporadic shows in the Lancaster area in their first few years. But by the Spring of 2008, the musicians of VCC had begun to approach the project with increased focus and commitment.In May of 2008 VCC traveled to Cumberland, MD performing in and winning the first annual Delfest band competition, an event that became a catalyst for the band's already-growing creative energy. Their eponymous debut album was released in October 2008. The follow up album, Angel of the Last Waltz, was released in May 2010. Both albums were engineered, produced, and released by the band members themselves and feature all original material;Don't Go Back In Time, the band's 3rd full-length, all-original studio album, was released in January 2013 and entered the Top 40 in the Folk Radio Airplay chart in October of that year.The Vinegar Creek Constituency currently performs in clubs, theaters, festivals, and venues of all sorts in an ever-expanding range throughout the US as the full 5-piece band or in duo or trio form. In the Summer of 2014, VCC embarked on their first overseas tour, performing in legendary clubs, family pubs,  and various street corners all over Ireland. The band will begin work on their 4th album in spring 2016, followed by touring in the US and Ireland this summer and autumn. 

Band Members