ANATOMY OF A BAND: SUSIE GLAZE & THE HILONESOME BAND 2003 TO 2016

[Anatomy of a Band:Welcome to the next installment in this series of articles for FolkWorks. We asked Susie Glaze and the members of the Hilonesome Band to write individual essays about their insights and experiences with the band. It was intentionally left open ended so that they could present their individual take. The Band started in 2003 and officially ended in 2016. Susie's new band, The Susie Glaze New Folk Ensemble is the latest incarnation which started last year. The series is being presented weekly, each member of the band in turn. We hope you enjoy this. ]

Fred Sanders, Bass, Lead and Harmony Vocals

Fred SandersI was born in Philadelphia and spent ages 6-10 in Ohio, then two years in Colombia (where my Dad worked for the Peace Corps), then finally settled in the New York City area for high school, college, and the beginning of an acting career. I first met Steve Rankin when we were each new acting company members at Actors Theatre of Louisville in 1981. We became roommates before discovering we were both musicians as well. Steve had a rock band called Steve Rankin and the Pine Valley Band that morphed into Steve Rankin and the Legend in their Spare Time Band, with Steve on lead vocals and guitar and me on electric bass and vocals. Steve also introduced me to Bluegrass, a style I was not that familiar with as a rock'n'roller from the Northeast. Fortunately, we also saw lots of Bluegrass bands while at Louisville, including New Grass Revival, Jim and Jesse, and even Bill Monroe himself. Flash forward a few years, no longer roommates but both living back in New York City when we were both cast in an off-Broadway Bluegrass-style musical written by two Louisville buddies of ours, the father and son team of Kenny and Daniel Jenkins. Included in the cast was a wonderful singer named Susie Glaze. So that was the beginning of our musical collaboration.

My acting career continued, including being in the second national tour of “Big River” with music by Roger Miller (which Susie appeared in for the Broadway production) and then on Broadway myself playing Hipockets Duncan, Buddy Holly’s manager in the musical “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story.” After that show closed in 1991, I moved out to Los Angeles, where, as it happened, Steve and Susie, separately, had already moved. Guitarist, banjo player, singer and songwriter Alex Wright organized some acoustic jam sessions at his home (though I was still on electric bass) and then invited me, Steve (now adding the mandolin to his bag of tricks), Charlie Otte on fiddle and guitarist Tom Wilson (who was tragically taken from us only a few years into that time) to form the Eight Hand String Band. After a few months of me still on electric, Steve generously (and selfishly?) bought me my first acoustic standup bass, which is the one I still play. Susie joined us a few years later and sang on our 2000 CD release “The Simple Truth.”

Melnyk 2 13 12 on stage fred and steveEarly in the 2000s, Susie, having married Steve in the interim (I was their best man, I’m happy to say), contacted me about a new musical collaboration that would feature her beautiful voice and include me and Steve and fiddler Charlie Otte. I also met a songwriter/guitarist/singer named Rob Carlson who brought a whole truckload of amazing songs to the party. That band became Susie Glaze and the Hilonesome Band and would, through the years, also include banjo player Rodger Phillips and occasionally the dobro player Ron Sutton (always my roommate on tour, a lovely guy and great player, also since sadly passed away). Charlie's career had taken him out of town and we experimented a while with no fiddle, and then we had the insane good luck of crossing paths with Mark Indictor who now made the revised lineup complete, minus a banjo as the sound changed (though Rodger still plays with us from time to time, always a great addition!) The band was not just a vehicle for Susie anymore (who had now added guitar playing to her bag of tricks, along with dulcimer and autoharp), but an orchestral collaboration of minds and music among all of us that included careful arrangements, thoughtful harmonies and a range of different styles, with all of us having a chance at some lead vocals in any given set. Also, Steve and I brought our own songwriting talents to the mix. Many CDs later and with a new focus on more Celtic, Appalachian, and folk styles, the now renamed Susie Glaze and the New Folk Ensemble has evolved. We've done lots of touring, had the great honor of performing at North Carolina's Merle Fest, LA's McCabe's, Berkeley's Freight & Salvage, and many visits to Altadena's Coffee Gallery Backstage, among many others. We’re all still having fun, growing, learning from each other, and hopefully creating a unique and entertaining experience for our audiences! Rob has had to step back from performing recently, though he still graces us with his presence when he can, but Susie, Steve, Mark and I carry on as great friends and collaborators! What a wild ride it's been with this family of artists! And more to come!

Read the first article in the series by Rob Carlson, Lead Guitar, Composer, Lead and Harmony Vocals.

Read the second article in the series by Mark Indictor, Fiddle, Vocal And Arrangement, Lead and Harmony Vocals.

Visit Susie Glaze's website!

On Saturday, June 23, 2018 at 8:00pm The Susie Glaze New Folk Ensemble will be performing at Boulevard Music in Culver City.

FRED SANDERS (bass/vocals) is a Philadelphia-born actor/director/musician who started playing the bass in rock bands at age 12.  In the early 80s Fred first played music with current bandmate Steve Rankin as part of the R&B/Blues Rock band Steve Rankin and the Legend in their Spare Time Band in Louisville, Kentucky.  While living in Louisville and working as an actor at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Fred heard Bill Monroe, Jim and Jesse, the New Grass Revival as well as other bluegrass and newgrass greats and was inspired to begin dipping his toes into those styles.  After relocating to Los Angeles Fred started playing standup bass exclusively, this time with the bluegrass/roots group The Eight Hand String Band, and in 2003 joined Susie's new Hilonesome Band.  In December 2010 music and theatre came together once again when Fred was honored to play bass and act with Lyle Lovett and Sara and Sean Watkins (of Nickel Creek fame) in a country-bluegrass version of "Much Ado About Nothing" for Shakespeare Center LA.