A different kind of bluegrass band, Iron Horse, will be headlining the Cooperstown Field Day on Saturday.
Based out of the Muscle Shoals, Ala., area, Iron Horse consists of Vance Henry on guitar, Anthony Richardson on banjo, Ricky Rogers on bass and Tony Robertson on mandolin. All four members sing. The band will perform Saturday on the Pioneer Park Music Stage from 7 to 9 p.m.
“All four of us live within six or seven miles of each other,” Henry said.
Formed in 2001, the group plays both original songs and traditional bluegrass tunes. But the band has received attention for something a bit less typical: albums featuring covers of songs by such rock bands as Metallica, Modest Mouse and Van Halen.
Henry said that the group began recording these cover albums after its debut album, “Ridin’ Out the Storm,” was noticed by a talent scout for CMH Records on the CD Baby online music store. The group was then approached about contributing to a bluegrass tribute CD to Metallica.
“He called us and asked if we’d be interested in doing a couple of songs,” Henry said.
The group was asked to record covers of “Nothing Else Matters” and “Unforgiven.” After they recorded and sent back the two tracks, Henry said, they were asked to do the entire project. That project would become the album “Fade to Bluegrass: A Bluegrass Tribute to Metallica.”
Since then, Iron Horse has recorded 12 other albums of covers, including “Black & Bluegrass: A Bluegrass Tribute to Ozzy Osborne,” “Whole Lotta Bluegrass: A Bluegrass Tribute to Led Zeppelin,” “The Gospel According to Hank Williams: The Bluegrass Gospel Tribute” and “Fade to Bluegrass Volume II: The Bluegrass Tribute to Metallica.”
“It’s hard to stop doing it,” Robertson said.
He said that the group had listened to some of the artists it covered, such as Led Zeppelin, Ozzy Osborne and Guns and Roses, while others, such as Metallica and Modest Mouse, were not as familiar.
Iron Horse has also released four albums that feature the group’s original work, including its latest album, “Horse and Pen,” which was released in 2011.
Iron Horse has a number of videos of its work on YouTube; the videos were a major factor in the band being invited to perform at the Cooperstown Field Day.
“Once we saw them in the videos on YouTube, we were able to get the sense that these guys are a great fit,” said John Tuchowski, the events coordinator at Brewery Ommegang.
Henry said that he would visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame while in Cooperstown. He said he’s an Atlanta Braves fan who went to games in the 1970s, when Hank Aaron was about to break the career home run record.
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