St. Louis-based bluegrass Americana band One Way Traffic, made up of Leah Osborne (vocals/baritone ukulele/washboard), Drew Lance (percussion/vocals), Erik Ferguson (bass), Sam Avery (guitar/vocals) and Sam Aubuchon (mandolin), has picked up traction rather quickly, with a competition win and a festival circuit being a couple accomplishments they’ve checked off in the past three years. Against the odds of the last challenging year (to say the least), One Way Traffic hasn’t lost steam.
Following their win at the Northwest String Summit Band Competition, the band used the momentum to release their 2019 album Turn Right; a most impressive debut, the record showcases the band’s talents, both musical and lyrical. Based on their desire to connect, each member of the group takes on some of the songwriting, leading to a wide array of song topics and tones that makes for exciting, well-rounded music.
One Way Traffic’s most recent single, “Good Thing”, puts the band’s bluegrass chops on full display, featuring heavy string instrumentals over a stomping beat, and with an album in the works, there’s no doubt that this group’s momentum is cruising strong, and one can expect their live performances will be equally energetic.
Since the beginning of this summer, the group has played festivals all around, but the season’s grand finale is the Blue Ox Music Festival next weekend. Despite being newcomers to the festival, there is no doubt that they’ll deliver a memorable and impressive performance. Playing the Side Stage on Saturday, One Way Traffic’s set will not be one to miss.
Adding to the excitement, the band has big plans for the rest of the year, as discussed in our interview with them regarding the future, the festival, and more.
So you guys released your single, “Good Thing,” back in February. What’s the back story on that track, and what else have you guys been up to in 2021?
Oh man! “Good Thing” really pushed us in a lot of ways. It was the first time we recorded Drew with a full drum kit set-up, which really boosted our decision in having electric guitar and electric bass on some of our songs. It really opened the door for us creatively. We don’t wanna be placed in a box. So I guess you could say we’ve been not only surviving a pandemic, but naturally progressing and trying new things.
After winning the 2019 Northwest String Summit Band Competition, you got quite a bit of recognition. What was that experience like, and do you feel it opened up new avenues for the band?
We worked for months on that 12-minute set for the NWSS band competition. If you’re not familiar, you get 12 minutes around a condenser mic. That’s it. The months leading up to the competition really solidified our bond as a band. We kept pushing ourselves. We also put out our debut album days before the competition. The hard work has really paid off. We’ve got such a solid backing from our fans from our hometown to Seattle. The opportunities that the NWSS competition have given us is as simple as reaching new ears. Be it new fans, the right festival promoter, other bands. We are just so grateful.
You’re no strangers to high pressure performances, but what do you anticipate being the most rewarding and the most challenging parts of returning to live performance, namely higher capacity shows and festivals?
The most rewarding is that connection, ya know? That natural thing that happens between you and your bandmates, the instruments and the crowd. No matter what size of stage or crowd, I think that’s what we play for… that connection. So having that back is a blessing. There’s always that inevitable challenge of nerves right before a big stage show, but for us it seems to fade because we trust one another. Technical issues are never fun either, but the more we play on bigger stages and venues, the less we run into sound issues.
Speaking of festivals- Blue Ox Music Festival is on the horizon. What does it mean to the band to be in the lineup for the first time sharing the same bill as such musical heavy hitters?
We are absolutely over the moon. Humbled to say the least. You guys have been on our radar since we’ve been a band. Getting invited out to these things are what keep us going, and reminds us that we are doing something right or special.
On a “big deal” scale from 1-10, where does Blue Ox fit in terms of shows/festivals you’ve played in the past, and what would make for an ideal overall experience for you?
8. I think that as long as the vibes are right, everything is gonna be right.
As mentioned, The Blue Ox lineup is pretty stacked. Are there any artists or bands you’re particularly excited to see/potentially get to meet and hang with?
We are super stoked to see our friends Arkansauce and HHG since we haven’t gotten to catch up in over a year! But collectively I’d say we would love to sit and share a chat with Ole Sammy Bush and maybe a couple of the Infamous Guys haha.
As a band, what’s the most fulfilling part of experiencing large performances like this together?
Like I said before, that euphoric connection. That natural high you get from it. There’s nothing quite like that energy you get from a live show, ya know?
What might fans expect from One Way Traffic throughout the rest of 2021?
We’ve got a few more festivals along with some big venue shows. One being with Yonder Mountain String Band actually. Be on the look out for a late year or early 2022 album. It’s gonna happen.