Flight Restaurant in Minden is going to be serving up some Carson Valley home-cooked twang tonight, Nov. 13, with local bluegrass-country band Chicken Fried.
Chicken Fried is Michael Chambon (banjo, resonator guitar, vocals), Brian Williams (guitar, vocals) and Larry Goldman (bass, vocals).
“We play everything from bluegrass to old country standards, Merle and Willie,” Williams said. “Even some older rock style stuff, like Elvis. But it’s mostly bluegrass and country flavor.”
Chicken Fried came together in early 2014 out of the Carson Valley music scene, where Goldman and Williams had played together in country band the Rustlers. Goldman is also the bassist for the Comstock Cowboys, a regular act at Virginia City’s Bucket of Blood Saloon.
“Larry had this brand new stand-up bass; he was an electric bass man, he had tinkered around a bit with the standup bass, but he was interested in actually performing with it,” Williams said.
Goldman knew Chambon and Williams separately, and invited them to start picking, and Chicken Fried was born.
“All of us get along really well. Despite, or in addition to, our love of music, we all have good senses of humor and like to laugh and crack up,” Williams said. “And when you have a banjo player in the band, there are no shortage of jokes.”
With Chambon being the only member with extensive bluegrass experience, Williams has been hard at work on his picking styles.
“Typically, I’ve been an electric Telecaster (guitar) country player,” he said. “When you have a band of only three people, there’s no place to hide. If you’ve got drums and electric bass and keyboards, you can hang back just a little bit sometimes.
“With three people you cannot hide vocally and you cannot hide musically, you can’t cheat with an acoustic.”
To up his game, Williams has been studying up on a variety of guitarists.
“I’ll be listening to something to do with Tony Rice let’s say, and loving every minute of it, and then I’ll get off on Tommy Emmanuel, and then I’m playing some Spanish guitar style stuff,” he said.
While noting that all of the band members enjoy the support of their wives, Williams did concede that the switch to bluegrass has been something of a conversation on his home front.
“The bluegrass, really I’ve fallen in love with, much to my wife’s chagrin,” he said with a chuckle. “She’ll hear me playing bluegrass in the music room and poke her head in and squeal like a pig and say something about ‘Deliverance.’ ”
Chicken Fried plays often around the Carson Valley and occasionally in Reno, with regular appearances at Gardnerville’s Thirsty Third Thursday Wine Walks, Flight Restaurant, and at the Red Dawg Saloon in Virginia City.
“Everything about Virginia City is fun,” Williams said. “You could have a crowd of four or five people and you’d think you have a stadium, because they’re hooting and hollering and having a good time.”
While all three members of Chicken Fried contribute vocally, their shows are definitely about the pickin.’
“The dynamic of bluegrass is always to showcase the musicianship,” Williams said. “They give breaks so people can showcase their musicianship. That is the nature of bluegrass music, that’s one of the reasons that it appeals to me.”
The group sticks primarily to cover tunes, although they do write their own originals as well.
“We try to use them a little bit sparingly, you know,” Williams said. “You’re out there to entertain and people want to hear what they recognize.”
The group is looking forward to November and December dates at Red Dawg Saloon, and especially to the upcoming show at Flight, a family-friendly location.
“It’s a very clean, smoke-free environment. They’ve got a really nice long bar but lots of tables for dinner two, you’ll see lots of families in there,” Williams said.
Although outside food and drink is prohibited, Flight is making an exception for Chicken Fried.
“It’s just kind of fun, likable,” Williams said. “Who doesn’t like fried chicken?”
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov.13
Where: Flight Restaurant, Minden, Nevada