Country, rock and blues on highway to Porchfest

Interstate 49 is one of the bands playing at this year's Porchfest in the West Plaza neighborhood June 13.

Interstate 49 is one of the bands playing at this year’s Porchfest in the West Plaza neighborhood June 13.

The Interstate 49 band – more on the name later – will be among those playing at the upcoming Porchfest in West Plaza neighborhood.

It is made up of six men in the metropolitan area who have worked their way up, including a night at one bar so rough they had to fight their way out.

But good gigs are steady now, and the music is better than ever, said Matt Breit, who founded the group about three years ago.

They will be at the second annual Porchfest  on June 13, which is free and lasts from noon to 5 p.m. PorchFestKC is a community music celebration taking place on the front porches of homes of the West Plaza neighborhood of Kansas City. Though PorchFests happen in many cities, Kansas City’s version started in 2014. Bands will play for tips on porches in about a 20-square-block area.

Interstate 49 does original music and more in what they call a mixture of Americana, blues, country and southern rock.

Some also call them a mix between country and 1970s rock, Breit said.

Matt Breit and Ryan Wisner of the band Interstate 49.

Matt Breit and Ryan Wisner of the band Interstate 49.

Their music includes harmonies with three singers. Breit sings and plays guitar; Ryan Wisner sings and plays lead guitar; Nick Roth is the drummer; Ed Sperling the bass player; and Zach Page sings and plays keyboard.

Lou Stoll also recently joined the band as a harmonica player.

That happened after the band was playing at the American Garage in Lee’s Summit, where Stoll was a bartender, Breit said. Stoll asked to sit in, flashed a carry belt packed with harmonicas and made the team.

They have an EP out called “Guilt by Association” and intend to add songs and make a CD, they said.

Breit said he doesn’t know if the band will ever hit a big time marked by tours and rich recording deals, but whatever happens, they will have fun.

“Our goals are to be good,” said Wisner, who writes songs with Breit.

“The process is sit down on the couch, put pen to paper and when we feel we have enough we bring it to the rest of the guys to work it out,” Breit said.

Given their ties to country, southern rock and blues, the Interstate 49 name seems appropriate.

In 2012, the year the band began, officials extended that name to much of Highway 71. The new Interstate 49, still under construction, will go through Arkansas and Louisiana and link Kansas City to New Orleans, a cradle of American music.

Wisner said he also loves to get on a highway and listen to music, but none of that is the real reason they came up with the name.

“We just couldn’t think of anything else,” he said.

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