Wiley Dobbs
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Wiley Dobbs

Band Jazz Bluegrass

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Bill Buyer and Rob McCuen, one half of newgrass quartet Wiley Dobbs, tell a story of playing with their other bandmates in a pitch-black room -- just riffing off each other in an informal rehearsal, with nothing but auditory clues as a guide -- and having everything just come together purely by feel. And then -- as if there's a cue when in actuality there isn't -- they all stop at the same time in an ending that couldn't be more crisp.

This is the unexplainable connection, both Buyer and McCuen said in a recent interview, that not only comes from years of playing together but from growing up together. The members of Wiley Dobbs, which also includes McCuen's Vermont-based twin brother Jim (upright bass) and Matt Davis (drums), were all schoolmates and friends as kids in rural Greene County before they were a band. And that helps when it comes to being musicians together, guitarist Rob McCuen said -- helps them all sense what the others will do! as they continually find new ways to play even their oldest songs. And that's not even going into that cosmic connection twins can have.

taking off

In the last year, Wiley Dobbs has taken off, playing more gigs, higher profile gigs -- like moe.'s snoe.down festival in Lake Placid -- and recording a debut CD that's expected out later this year.

"I don't know what exactly was the catalyst," Buyer said. "We booked a bunch of gigs and then it just took off."

"Yeah, one gig just has a way of leading to another," Rob McCuen added, as the pair sat in a Lark Street bar in Albany, Buyer's adopted home city.

Originally a trio, sans drums, the band formed as Wiley Dobbs in the late '90s from the ashes of the McCuens' and Buyer's other groups: Billy McFreak in their high school days and later the Fairy Gangstas. But it's only recently that the band has made that transition from a "recreational" outfit, the 32-year-old Buyer said.

The name Wiley Dobbs came about, he explained, when he and the McCuens were working a farmstand in the Catskills years ago and met a charming, grizzled crop grower who seemed to embody the ideal image of the independent farmer. His name: Wiley Dobbs.

Right there, they were fascinated simply with the sound of it. "We told him if we ever start a bluegrass band, we'll call it Wiley Dobbs." Buyer recalls. Soon after, they did.

While their live set can work in some odd covers for a bluegrass-influenced group, whether it's their take on Led Zeppelin or Bad Company, the band is decidedly focused on the music and dedicated to their highly intricate style of playing.

jazz elements

Their newgrass expands upon bluegrass and its technical style and sometimes-frenetic pacing by incorporating elements of early acoustic jazz, though some dedicated purists might scoff at Wiley Dobbs' use of drums. Noting that jazz is "the glue that holds it all together," McCuen said the new album, mostly an original affair with a couple of standards, will also work with gypsy jazz influences. In the end, they're more Bela Fleck or David Grisman -- both huge influences -- than Flatt & Scuggs or Bill Monroe.

While on stage, meanwhile, the four encourage improvisation, making those jams in pitch black rooms helpful practice. In fact, Buyer goes so far as to say Wiley Dobbs doesn't ever "do the same song twice." Yet they're careful to say they're not a jam band, though the gigs they play, snoe.down for one, might sometimes suggest it. - Schenectady Gazette


Discography

www.wileydobbs.com for samples.

Wiley Dobbs - Last Word

Snoe.down sampler - compilation CD w/ moe., soulive, tea leaf green and others

Photos

Bio

Mandolin, upright bass, and acoustic guitar seamlessly blend together to create the innovative sounds of Wiley Dobbs. Wiley Dobbs and its members have shared the stage with Charlie Hunter, Jamie Masefield, the Zen Tricksters, Eddie from Ohio, Rusted Root, and many other national touring acts. The venues they have performed at include Snoe.down, Higher Ground, the Van Dyck, and the WAMC Theater in Albany.
The members of the band have had over 15 years in various incarnations to arrive at their musical destination; an energetic fusion of bluegrass, jazz, and original music which charts new musical territories while paying homage to the masters. Close friends since childhood, band members Rob McCuen, Jim McCuen, Bill Buyer and Matt Davis have developed an uncanny ability to communicate with each other through their instruments. These musical nuances add to the dynamics of Wiley Dobbs’ sound, lending to a unique improvisational dialogue.

selected appearances :
-Snoe.down winter music festival (with Moe.)
-WAMC Linda Norris Auditorium (Albany,NY)
-Green Mountain College (Poultney,Vt.)
-Higher Ground (Burlington,Vt.)
-Red Square (Albany,NY)

“These are dedicated musicians” - The Rutland Herald