Founded in 2001, Little Rock bluegrass band Runaway Planet evolved out of a long-time friendship between members and a mutual love for traditional string-band music. Their music is a mix of hard-driving bluegrass, three-part harmonies, complex arrangements and original songs.
Drawing from traditional influences like Bill Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs and the Stanley Brothers, they are also inspired by more progressive bluegrass bands like The Country Gentlemen, The Seldom Scene and New Grass Revival. With an ever-growing schedule, Runaway Planet is winning over new fans from traditional bluegrass lovers to younger fans new to the genre.
SMOKIN\' BLUEGRASS: From the Dogtown Wire - by DJ Smith.
\"A quartet of plucking, singing, songwriters has a new CD out called “Tarnation” and I got me a copy in the mail.
One of the reasons I wanted to move to Arkansas was the gushing praise about the state’s music scene that spewed forth from the many singer/songwriters throughout the country I call friends.
And I have had the pleasure of hearing some still-budding, and some genuine real talent from several singer/songwriters that call Central Arkansas home. I did throw out a few “aw shucks” when I found out the bluegrass music scene is more prevalent up in the northwest corner and has a musical Mecca in Mt. View.
But then one day I heard that wondrous combination of guitbox, mandolin, banjo, and stand up bass that drew me to the band playing that move-you-to-your toes music downtown. Quicker than American Idol fans can change their allegiance, I crossed the street and beheld Runaway Planet throwing down my favorite acoustic sounds.
I’ve played the even dozen songs on “Tarnation” at least an even dozen times in the past two days and I am wondering why these guys still have day jobs.
The members are guitarist Greg Alexander, mandolin player Ben Ellis, banjoist Steve Brauer, and bassist Michael Proveaux.
The slow, but seductive instrumental the CD takes its name from and written by Brauer, starts you out with an appreciation for the talented fingers behind the melody.
But the 90 seconds of this soothing intro tune disappears as this medley of finger pickers jump into fourth gear on Alexander’s “Holdin’ On.” And if you weren’t doing it – holding on that is – you might come out of your chair and hit the floor in a frenzy of foot stomping to match the pace of the song.
Banjos have a way of doing that to you when they come at you as if the strings wouldn’t take the speed they’re attacked at, and then there is the rapid energy of the mandolin playing that follows the refrain of “holdin’ on, holdin on,” that could be used to power stage lights.
If there is a person who doesn’t have their heart beating in synchronicity with a stand up bass when played by someone like Proveaux, you best check into UAMS and see that they look at what ails ya.
Ellis takes claim for “Three Letters (and Wine Stains)” that offers up the band\'s harmonies done with almost perfection in complimenting the low down feel for the lead vocals telling of all that is left to remember of another lost love. The high and low of the chorus’ voice is why harmonies work in bluegrass in making them an added finally tuned instrument.
The opening chords of Alexander’s “Wrong” sets the mood for not-so-subtle lyrics and the nastier banjo picking that accompanies a man telling his lover that she should leave. Take the hint babe.
And in a twist on the cardinal rule that a biblical themed song be present on bluegrass albums, Proveaux’s song fits the bill. Though it is as short as a child’s bedtime prayer it brings beseeching to Jesus into play as a man wonders what is in store for him on a “Woman with the Devil Inside.”
The cover of “Limehouse Blues” is just plain fun to listen to and the traditional “Wayfaring Stranger” and “Working on a Building” balance the original songs just right to pay homage to those who influenced this and so many other bluegrass bands.
The cover “Black & White Rag” ends the CD with my thoughts going to bygone days of straw hat wearing men and bustled skirted women picnicking along a lazy river. R. Crumb and his Cheap Suit Serenaders have nothing on Runaway Planet for this style.\"
NEW PLANET: From the Arkansas Times - by Lindsey Millar.
\"Since 2001, Runaway Planet has been the standard bearer for bluegrass in Little Rock. A four-piece string band that features stand-up bass, mandolin, guitar and banjo, the Planet storms into White Water on Friday to celebrate the release of its sophomore album, “Tarnation.” Like the group\'s debut, their latest follows well-trodden territory, mixing standards and originals that deal in old-timey tropes we can all appreciate — wayfaring strangers, floods, women with the devil in them. Everyone in the band — that\'d be Greg Alexander, Steve Brauer, Ben Ellis and Michael Proveaux — enjoys songwriting credit and all save Ellis contribute to impressive three-part harmonies. Depending on your energy, expect a night of toe-tapping, two-stepping or foot-stomping.\"
\"The foremost bluegrass band in Little Rock, this quartet has performed with such bluegrass heroes as Del McCoury, Ricky Skaggs and Sam Bush. Runaway Planet\'s brand of bluegrass takes a modern spin to what is often considered an antiquated genre, playing what many call \"newgrass\".
*Little Rock Monthly
\"Bluegrass played exceptionally well, and with attitude ... These boys can play.\"
\"Grab your dancin\' shoes.\"
*Fayetteville Free Weekly
\"Bluegrass rockers ...\"