Dead Horses Return As Trio Stronger Than Ever

<pdead_horsesBY George Halas

In going to the ends of the earth to find the best music, The Mile of Music Festival has not overlooked the Fox Cities.
One of the highlights of this year’s festival will be the appearance of Oshkosh-based Dead Horses, a young acoustic band with a cultivated folk sensibility well beyond their years whose sound is equally beautiful and effortless.

The music is superb, combining elements of bluegrass and other genres that produce a pleasing sound that also stimulates the senses and the imagination. The troupe crafts powerful coming of age narratives sung by the alluring golden-haired songstress and founder Sarah Vos. “Space and Time,” the band’s latest release, showcases instrumental virtuosity, masterful songwriting, and heartfelt soul…an overwhelmingly impressive album.

Vos, whose musical influence reads like most early-American folk musicians, was raised by a preacher father and spent a good part of her childhood singing bible hymns. Her gospel, living free and unapologetically, is supported with conviction by Peter Raboin on acoustic guitar and Daniel Wolff on double bass.

Following the release of ‘Space and Time’ in 2014, Dead Horses have been touring tirelessly across the Midwest to glowing review, including shows with Brooklyn folksters Swear & Shake, Wisconsin troubadour Cory Chisel and Minneapolis newgrassers Pert Near Sandstone.

With the release of “Space and Time” last October, Dead Horses commanded the ears and full attention of roots music fans across the Midwest. From newspaper covers and heavy radio airplay, to headlining gigs, it seemed like the band of twenty-somethings from Oshkosh had finally broken through that invisible but stifling label of “local band.”

But, with an untimely line-up change, just nine months after their first break, Dead Horses may need to prove themselves all over again.

It seems the trio fronted by the golden-haired Vos, anticipated the challenge. Be it determination or spite, their acoustic folk sensibilities have more recently intensified into a sound that has more grit, something beautifully raw, and unabashedly more authentic about it. The coming-of-age narratives feel lived-in, and all of the members play with a new vigor that excites, and breaks guitar strings, three to be exact, at their recent Blue Ox Music Festival gig.

For the already initiated, don’t fret, the immediate appeal of Dead Horses remains Vos’ biting, sultry vocals and neatly-crafted songs, supported with conviction by the fastest pickers in town: Peter Raboin on lead acoustic guitar and Daniel Wolff on double bass. It’s just as poignantly beautiful as you remember.

Or maybe you don’t, because it has been nine months since Dead Horses have last performed in The Fox Cities, but for good reason…with tours out to the Rocky Mountains and back, and a busy festival schedule, the up-and-comers have had their work cut out for them. So do yourself a favor, and catch Dead Horses when the opportunity presents itself.

Consult the schedules in SCENE, but look for Dead Horses to play one of the Friday afternoon “big gigs” on the Houdini Plaza Main Stage and one other appearance at Mile of Music.

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