The Whiskey Rebellion
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The Whiskey Rebellion

Richmond, Virginia, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2005 | SELF

Richmond, Virginia, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2005
Band Folk Americana




"Whiskey Rebellion unites broad backgrounds"

4/18/08 - By Bill Kramer
Chance meetings sometimes yield good musical results. Such is the case for The Whiskey Rebellion, born at the Maury River Fiddler’s Convention a few years back. They’ll be playing April 18 at Queen City Brewing Company, and from all reports, they’re quite a hot young bluegrass outfit.
Mary Simpson and friend David Cosper attended the convention eager to show their talents. Simpson sings and plays the violin (better known as a fiddle in bluegrass circles), while Cosper is a bassist and vocalist.
During the event they ran into Ryan Phillips, a songwriter, guitarist and singer, and his friend Roy Myers, a banjo player, both from Richmond. They exchanged phone numbers with the promise that someday they might pick together.
Area fans may be familiar with Simpson, who appeared with Gary Ruley and Mule Train at Queen City Brewing Company several weeks ago. Few Bluegrass-oriented bands have the luxury of having a classically trained musician with national television credits on the resume, but Simpson, who recently graduated form the University of Virginia, holds that distinction.
Reached in Los Angeles, where she was preparing to appear along with her sister, Ann Marie, and four other musicians as back up for an L.A. musician on the “Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” Simpson explained Whiskey Rebellion’s origins.
“I went down to the Fiddler’s Convention with my bass player and we met Ryan and Roy. We kind of jammed a little bit and exchanged phone numbers and said maybe we’d try to play together in Richmond sometime. A few weeks later, we got a call and we really hit it off when we played together at a gig there. It was a lot of fun,” she said.
She noted that the group’s first recording, which featured all original songs except one traditional fiddle tune, was going to be followed up. “We’ve got enough material to do another, and we hope to get to work on it this fall,” she said.
Simpson isn’t the only band member with a broad musical pedigree. Cosper is a doctoral candidate at U.Va. and was at first a jazz musician before moving to the hotbed of musical styles in Charlottesville. And Myers came to the banjo by way of studying classical guitar at Virginia Commonwealth University.
That leaves Phillips, who penned the majority of the songs on Whiskey Rebellion’s first recording. Between his strength of composing, playing and singing, he fits comfortably with his bandmates.
The groups repertoire includes not only the originals, but also other material, Simpson Said.
“We play a lot of bluegrass standards, and we also take a lot of popular songs and cover them, bluegrass style,” she said.
- The Staunton News Leader

"Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine"

Whiskey Rebellion is an old-time string quartet featuring Ryan Phillips (guitar, mandolin and vocals), Mary Simpson (fiddle and vocals), Roy Myers (banjo and guitar), and David Cosper (bass, guitar and vocals). This is the group’s debut recording and includes mostly original material that sounds as if was created more than a hundred years ago. Featured are such titles as “Baggin’ Maggie,” “Groundhog Reel,” “Utah Moon,” and the ever-popular “Whiskey Before Breakfast.” Whiskey Rebellion’s recording debut proves to be a highly successful venture that establishes the band as a force to be reckoned with. - Album Review by Les Mclyntre

"Whiskey Rebellion likes to jam with high-energy"

John Harper
May 19, 2006

Like most bluegrass bands, The Whiskey Rebellion - playing Saturday, May 20, at Howard's Pub in Ocracoke - has one foot in the past and one foot in the present. "Something old, something new, and losing track of the difference" is written in bold print across the top of their website. "Bluegrass is definately the foundation," said Ryan Phillips, the group's vocalist, lead guitarist and spiritual leader. "But it's about doing as much as we can with acoustic instrumentation."
The Richmond-based band includes Phillips, Roy Myers (guitar/vocals), Mary Simpson (fiddle/vocals), and David Cosper (bass/vocals). Drawing on influences ranging from Bill Monroe to Jerry Garcia to Johnny Cash, the six month-old quartet plays a mostly high-energy, joyful brand of bluegrass, with skillfull picking and two and three-part harmonies. But with the players "coming from different places," there's a lot of other stuff going on. Cosper runs a few jazz bass lines, Phillips throws in some rock guitar licks and Simpson returns to her classical roots.
"We spend a lot of time on the arrangements," said Phillips, 24, who was on a cell phone in between classes at Virginia Commonwealth University. "We all contribute something."
On stage, the group pumps out a variety of tunes, including the originals "Dublin","Prisoner 31" and "The Utah Moon", which is an old fashioned instrumental breakdown. The band also offers sparkling, stripped-down remakes of songs by The Beatles ("I've Just Seen a Face"), Bob Dylan ("Hurricane"), Guns N' Roses ("Sweet Child O' Mine") and Johnny Cash ("Ring of Fire").
"Nothing's out of the question," said Phillips, who plays a solo gig Friday, May 19, at Awful Arthur's in Kill Devil Hills. "We're thinking about adding some Jimi Hendrix."
- The Virginia Pilot -

"Whiskey Rebellion Time- Going Beyond Bluegrass and studio Recordings"

September 6, 2007
By Bill Craig

While Most of America was observing the Labor Day holiday weekend, Roy Myers, Ryan Phillips, Mary Simpson, and David Cosper were celebrating their 100th show as The Whiskey Rebellion with a performance in Manteo, NC
The four musicians connected two summers ago at the Maury River Fiddler’s Convention in Buena Vista, VA. At the time, Myers and Phillips were playing some shows around Richmond; Simpson and Cosper were in Charlottesville, studying music at the University of Virginia. The Richmond Boys invited Simpson and Cosper to head east for a few gigs, and the band was born.
Give just a casual listen the The Whiskey Rebellion’s recently released, self-titled debut album, and you’ll be tempted to plug the Quartet into the category reserved for pure bluegrass. While Phillips says bluegrass is the members’ common denominator, there’s much more to The Whiskey Rebellion than twang and high lonesome.
Simpson has played bluegrass for most of her life, but she is also a classically trained violinist. Cosper, a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a doctoral candidate at U.Va., is a jazz musician whose introduction to bluegrass came after his move to Charlottesville. Myers, who contributes banjo to the quartet’s sound, studied classical guitar at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Though he has spent a lot of time around folk music, Phillips brings some rock ‘n’ roll soul to the Whiskey Rebellion table.
“My songwriting influences include Johnny Cash at the top of the list, along with old folk recordings, Phillips said. “But I also used to play electric guitar. I loved Hendrix, Pink Floyd and The Dead. Jerry Garcia had a huge influence by bringing folk music to the masses with the band Old and in the Way and his other work in the Dead and the Garcia/Grisman stuff. I was brought into this music through those channels and have not looked back since.”
Highlighted by the dark “Baggin’ Maggie” and the rustic charm of “Eight Ways” and “Forget Me Not,” the new album’s track list includes 11 Phillips originals, one tune written by Myers, a pair from Cosper, and a traditional fiddle tune.
As compelling as the record is, fans who come out for an up-close-and-personal listen get rewarded with something extra.
“The CD is a little different than our shows,” Phillips said. “Our shows consist of a mix of originals, bluegrass standards and random Cover Songs such as Hendrix, Gnarls Barkley, The Beatles, Dylan, and Johnny Cash.”
Those who were paying attention in U.S. History class know that the whiskey Rebellion represents the unhappy reaction of whiskey makers to a tax imposed by the federal government during George Washington’s presidency. So how did this historic event end up being a band name? “We were practicing music at Roy’s house on Floyd Avenue years ago when we glanced over at the TV,” Phillips said. “There was a special on about the Whiskey Rebellion. We had been looking around for a name and that one stuck.”
After tomorrow night’s CD release show at the Capital Ale House Music Hall, the Whiskey Rebellion will open for The Seldom Scene at Swingin’ on the Tracks on Sep.20 at the Science Museum of Virginia.
- Richmond Times Dispatch

"Whiskey Rebellion"

John Harper(“The Coast”/Friday August 3, 2007) Richmond, Va.’s pop-bluegrass band Whiskey Rebellion is holding CD release parties Friday, Aug. 3, and Saturday, Aug.4, at Howard’s Pub in Ocracoke.
Recorded at a home studio in Wilmington, N.C., the self titled album contains 14 original songs and a spirited the traditional fiddle tune “Whiskey Before Breakfast”. Standout tracks include the straight-ahead bluegrass number “Utah Moon,” the ragtimey “When You See Me,” the catchy ballad “Forget Me Not” and the Celtic-influenced instrumental “By The Water.”
It’s the debut disc for the quartet, which includes Ryan Phillips (guitar/vocals), Mary Simpson (violin/vocals), Roy Myers (banjo/guitar) and David Cosper (bass/vocals).
Whiskey Rebellion plays at 9:30pm. There is no cover charge. Howard’s Pub is on N.C. 12.
- Virginia Pilot

"Now Hear This"

Style Weekly(Richmond, VA)
January 2, 2008 by Josh Bearman

There’s something about Central Virginia: It breeds bands that wont fit into convenient classifications. Whether electro-punk (VCR) or indie-Klezmer (One Ring Zero), we can’t be satisfied with convention. The same is true in the world of banjos and fiddles. Like their geographical comrades The Hackensaw Boys or Old School Freight Train, The Whiskey Rebellion – its members hailing from Richmond and Charlottesville – wont play nice for reviewers, their music eludes classification.
The songwriting, handled mainly by guitarist Ryan Phillips, leans heavily toward storytelling. Bank robberies, jail time, mill fires – the themes are familiar, but the lyrics are fresh and captivating. In addition to Phillips’ guitar work, fiddler/vocalist Mary Simpson is a crisp soloist and bassist David Cosper an accomplished multi-instrumentalist who grounds the band. Also Roy Myers’ bluegrass/old-time hybrid-banjo playing sets the band apart from the standard Scruggs banjo band. The Whiskey Rebellion has been around for about two years now, and its love for music and creation is clearly evident on this release.
- Style Weekly (Richmond, VA)

""On the Frontier of Bluegrass""

It's Friday night and the Cary Street Cafe is packed, and I have to say, I love this place for its character. The place has more Grateful Dead posters than southern California, and there's the front end of a VW bus leaned against one wall. Whiskey Rebellion piles onto a small stage at one end of the cafe, and the show gets started.
I immediately notice the fiddler, Mary Simpson. She's short, she has something to prove, and she plays like she means it. I learn that she's classically trained, has a sister who's a professional violinist, and a father who's a serious bluegrass banjo player. This girl has bluegrass in her blood, and the fiddle strokes to prove it. I ask her after the show if there's any tension between her classical training and her bluegrass performance. "No," she tells me that her classical background gives her a wider variety of tones and better control of her sound than she would have had she only studied bluegrass.
Mary and the mandolin player, Jared Pool, go way back. They met at a bluegrass festival when they were both about 12. She tells me that she remembers Jared beating her older brother in a guitar contest at the festival. They have occasionally crossed paths ever since, and are now delighted to be playing together. Though he's playing mandolin now, Jared also has a degree in guitar performance.
The versatility of Whiskey Rebellion is one of their major assets. They are so familiar with each other, their music, and their instruments that they can play anything. They take requests from the crowd, and do a fine job turning whatever anyone shouts out into a great bluegrass jam. They played the Talking Heads in perfect bluegrass, which I had not thought possible. The crowd loves it, and a fair number of people are dancing.
In between sets, I get the chance to talk to the band. I enjoy our conversations a great deal. The thing that sticks out in my mind is that these guys are really in it for the love of the music. "What made you choose Bluegrass?" I ask Ryan Phillips, the band's guitarist and primary songwriter, "It's more about the players," he says. He goes on to tell me that the big draw to Bluegrass, for him at least, is that the genre really allows musicians to explore their skills and to grow.
Ryan goes on to tell me about the festivals. Apparently, there is an entire subculture of Bluegrass festivals all around the country. For Bluegrass, the festivals really work, since everyone has a common body of songs, progressions, and forms to draw from, so it's easy to create an impromptu jam session. Everyone in Whiskey Rebellion grew up in this Bluegrass festival scene, improvising around campfires and getting to know the music and the scene. It's this broad familiarity with Bluegrass that gives Whiskey Rebellion their flexibility; they're on the frontier of Bluegrass, pushing traditional limits and making some great music.
- Magazine 33

"Virginia Pilot July 2008"

Check out some of the recent edition to bluegrass band Whiskey Rebellion’s playlist: White Snake’s “Here I go Again” and Coldplay’s “Clocks”. What’s going in the mind of head rebel man Ryan Phillips? “We just like to surprise people with songs thy don’t expect from a bluegrass band”, he said from a phone interview from his home in the fan district of Richmond, VA. And it’s great when everybody sings along. The quartet is known for its imaginative remakes of songs by, among dozens of others, the Beatles, Johnny cash, Gnarles Barkley, and bob Dylan. Employing guitar, bass, banjo, and fiddle, the rebellion also has a wealth of original material, ranging from instrumental bluegrass breakdowns, to high lonesome love songs, to pop-rock tunes. David Cosper (upright bass, guitar, vocals) Mary Simpson (fiddle, vocals) and Roy Myers (banjo/guitar) round out the lineup. - Virginia Pilot - "The Coast" - by John Harper

"Whiskey, you're the devil!"

Based on the sound of Charlottesville regulars The Whiskey Rebellion, you would think that this city is a place where every kid that picks up a mandolin or fiddle and jams with friends on a back porch is going to deliver the goods. These rebels pluck folk songs that will sit well with fans of Gillian Welch and Alison Krauss. Charlie Daniels alert: Listening to guitarist Ryan Phillips and fiddler Mary Simpson deul is both a treat and a lesson in virtuosity. - C-Ville Weekly 12/28/06


"Where the Devil Roams" EP - To be released in 2015

"Live in Oregon" FEATURED FILM - 2013

"Lay it Down" LP - 2009

"The Whiskey Rebellion" LP - 2007

"The Ballad of Chester Copperpot" Music Video - 2009



The Richmond, VA based Americana band has spent the last decade harvesting a sound, which is deeply rooted in the folk traditions of Appalachia, and the raw elements of American Rock and Roll. 
2015 brings The Whiskey Rebellion’s upcoming release “Where the Devil Roams”, an EP comprised of all original music, features the single “Sometimes”, and is set for release this summer.
"the best thing to happen to Americana since 1776"

Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine-
"A force to be reckoned with"

The Virginia Pilot-
The quintet plays a mostly high-energy, joyful brand of bluegrass, with skill full picking and two and three-part harmonies.

Richmond Times Dispatch-
Give just a casual listen to The Whiskey Rebellion's recently released, self-titled debut album, and you'll be tempted to plug the band into the category reserved for pure bluegrass. While Phillips says bluegrass is the members' common denominator, there's much more to The Whiskey Rebellion than twang and high lonesome.

Band Members