The High Ground Drifters have made a name for themselves as one of the only bluegrass bands in a jazz town. The six-year-old outfit developed out of a shared love of bluegrass music among the band’s five members—Paul Williams, John Noble, Jeff Bagwell, Grant Ligon, and Greg Nichols—all residents of Mid-City.
“We met like bluegrass bands meet, sitting on someone’s porch one night pickin’,” guitarist Grant Ligon says. “We figured out that we all liked to play bluegrass, and we were the only people we knew that played bluegrass, so we decided we had to start a band.”
After six years, one album, and a positive 2009 write-up in Rolling Stone stemming from an early gig at that year’s New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, the original five members are just hitting their stride.
“It’s really a cool honor that Voodoo has gotten us to play, because they don’t ever book bluegrass bands,” Ligon says. “I think it’s going to be us and the McCourys, and they’re our idols.”
But don’t expect a string of twangy, country fried classics when the High Ground Drifters take the stage on Friday, October 28.
“We try to really honor the bluegrass tradition of taking music as a form and making it your own,” Ligon says. “In our set at Voodoo, we’re going to do some Jethro Tull, and some Pink Floyd, and some Fats Domino. We’ve got some oddities in the set that we work on for months and then we bring them out. I think the audience always enjoys them.”
High Ground Drifters play Friday, October 28 at 1:15 p.m. on the Preservation Hall Stage.