Split Lip Rayfield continues to soldier on for the love of the music

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:: Split Lip Rayfield ::
:: Black Sheep (Colo. Springs) :: January 14 ::
:: Fox Theatre :: January 15 ::
:: Three20 South (Breckenridge) :: January 18 ::
:: The Sand Bar (Vail) :: January 19 ::
:: The Eldo (Crested Butte) :: January 20 ::
:: Bluebird Theatre :: January 21 ::

By Levi Macy

Finding a niche in today’s constantly changing music scene is something that has proven to be the downfall of many bands, both seasoned and brand new. Staying relevant while remaining true to yourself, and the sound in your soul, can become a daunting task. With the uprising in electronic music and the shortening of attention spans, it is easy for what is considered traditional music to be forgotten or completely overlooked.

But for a small band out of Wichita, Kansas, it’s not about making it “big” or being the “next big thing.” Split Lip Rayfield have been fast-picking their way around the country for well over a decade. Not for fame or fortune but simply to have fun.

In a recent interview with The Marquee, mandolin player Wayne Gottstine defined their sound as “aggressive, acoustic, country-rock,” then laughed it off by saying “you know, I’m actually not really one for genres.” After listening to the unique sound that he and his two bandmates create, that fact couldn’t be more evident.

Split Lip is known for bassist Jeff Eaton’s home-made bass consisting of the gas tank from an old Ford, a hand carved neck and one weed whacker wire tuned to G, banjo riffs from Erik Mardis, and Gottstine’s technical mandolin playing. The energy coming from the stage conjures up images of a punk rock band playing acoustic instruments in a barn somewhere buried deep in the backwoods.

“This is something I’ve always wanted to do,” said Gottstine. “I think I always knew I’d be making music for a living. Even though I went to college for journalism, I just kept joining bands,” Gottstine said.

When he’s not playing gigs with his rock band Scroat Belly, Gottstine spends his time traveling the country with a mandolin in hand. “I started out playing guitar, but when Kirk [Rundstrom] asked me to join Split Lip I picked up the mandolin, and I ended up thoroughly enjoying it,” said Gottstine. The four original members of the band played together while developing their one-of-a-kind style up until Gottstine decided to leave the band in 2005. Soon after that, Rundstrom was diagnosed with cancer while on tour in Colorado and that diagnosis led to Gottstine’s return to the band. The full band toured one last time in 2006, playing their final show as a quartet on December 8, 2006. Tragically, Rundstrom passed away due to complications relating to his cancer treatments early the next year.

For many bands, something as heartbreaking as this would prove to be the end of the road, but after a break, the surviving band members discussed giving it another whirl, without their fallen brother, but also in honor of him. “Well, it was something we all did together. After about a year of not playing together we decided to see what could happen if we gave it another shot. The Reverend Horton Heat really wanted us to open a show for them. Then the show “Squidbillies” came to us asking for a few songs for their episodes,” said Gottstine. “We are all pretty unemployable anyway, so we decided to get back together. It ended up being a lot of fun.”

Now that they are back at it full bore as a three piece, dedicating every show to Rundstrom’s memory, the band has made it a tradition to do a winter tour through Colorado each year. “We just got back from a pretty decent tour with The Legendary Shack Shakers and are now taking it easy until we head to the Front Range at the beginning of the year for a six-show run,” said Gottstine. “It is just so rewarding to be doing what I love and playing music every night. Meeting new people and talking with strangers who tell me they love our band and can sing along to all of the songs.” It was more than clear by his peaceful demeanor that the men in Split Lip Rayfield simply love what they do.

Gottstine said that the creative juices have been flowing of late and the band is looking at getting back into the studio sometime soon. “We have been writing a lot of new material. It’s been about three years since our last album, so hopefully we can get another one put together and out sometime early next year. Also, we have quite a few shows coming in. We want to make it out to the West Coast, and hit quite a few festivals,” he said.

With that momentum pushing the band, Gottstine said that they’re focused and on task as a group, but with a very simple outline to follow. “Just keep at it,” he said. “Keep playing, play every day. Take every gig you can and don’t give up. Making music is really the best way for me to express myself. And at the end of the day, we just intend to keep grinding away and doing our thing.”

 

:: Split Lip Rayfield ::
:: Black Sheep (Colo. Springs) :: January 14 ::
:: Fox Theatre :: January 15 ::
:: Three20 South (Breckenridge) :: January 18 ::
:: The Sand Bar (Vail) :: January 19 ::
:: The Eldo (Crested Butte) :: January 20 ::
:: Bluebird Theatre :: January 21 ::

 

Recommended if you Like:

• The Devil Makes Three

• Yonder Mountain String Band

• Reverend Horton Heat

 

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