Good Morning Bedlam might be a little tricky to pin down for genre purists – but it is a blast to listen to their music and try it. In the end, putting them in a restrictive box is probably pointless; this folk/Americana/indie rock quartet is on an unbridled journey of experimentation. What they do might not be a match for those expecting straight-up tradition, but it brings a fresh sound to listeners seeking a melding of old and new. From bass and fiddle to a thumping kick-drum and hearty brass, a quick listen makes it clear: Good Morning Bedlam can't be easily pigeonholed.
"One thing Good Morning Bedlam has gotten known for is trying new things, for doing our own take on different genres…genre-bending," explained vocalist and guitarist Isaak Gill Elker.
For instance, their latest work toys with ideas from other cultures.
"We've been experimenting with different rhythms," he explained. One example is Latin beats, but using acoustic instrumentation. "We just love getting to try different stuff."
Elker said his bandmates all hail from different backgrounds but came together on a love for experimenting with roots sounds. For instance, his wife plays bass in the band, and her first interests are steeped in classic rock and musicals.
"And I grew up playing metal music," Elker said, laughing. "And then I fell in love with the Avett Brothers."
"A lot of American roots music came from storytelling," he said, explaining why more traditional styles – which are so different from metal – finally grabbed him. "It's a beautiful genre in its purest form…but people all like to take new ideas from tradition."
He said the decision to have an open and fluid interpretation of folk was a natural passion. It sounds like it could have gone no other way for these young musicians.
"That decision came about organically," Elker said. "I always say we just have short attention spans." He laughed.
He said he and his bandmates discuss this amalgam of acoustic instrumentation with more forward-thinking, or even cross-culture, techniques. He said with much of the music they create, they ask the question aloud: "Where is the tradition, and where is the experimentation?"
"That's a question we have a lot," he added.
Self-described on the Good Morning Bedlam website, the band rightfully lays claim to the descriptor of "furious folk" and promises live show content including "a haunting waltz, whistling, jazz scatting, and the euphoria of the violin melodies."
Based in the midwest, Good Morning Bedlam has been doing this since 2015. By 2019, they were logging over 200 shows a year. Then, Covid-19 shutdowns arrived and affected them in much the same way it affected most touring musicians.
Elker said it wasn't all bad, however.
"From a creative standpoint, it allowed us to take a step back and take a breather, to reassess," he said. Part of that downtime involved ample opportunity to create new music.
The band consists of Elker, delivering vocals and guitar; his wife, Victoria Elker, with her bass and vocals; Katherine Seeger, playing violin and also offering vocals; and Dawson J. Redenius, who brings the trumpet and keys.
The last studio record from the group was "Lulu," which Elker described as a blend of folk, Americana, and indie rock. It even had one song "influenced by" jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt.
Good Morning Bedlam recently released a single and has another dropping now in March. It is titled "Elemental."
"Those two will be part of a five or six-song EP releasing this summer," he said.
As for the more distant future, Elker seems to have high hopes for more of the same.
"I would love someday to play some of the really famous venues," he said, mentioning that his wish list includes Red Rocks and Austin City Limits. "We tend to have big dreams. I want to keep working the next couple of years to find a balance as well, as part of our progression," he said. "I think that makes touring and being creative for a living even sweeter."