Scrapin’ Plates

As banjo player Derek Kretzer of The Plate Scrapers speaks about the band’s beginning, it becomes clear that his own journey into folk music, the assembling of the band, and their evocative name are all intertwined. After spending his high school years playing guitar in a variety of band settings and genres (along with his younger brother, a drummer at the time) he was drawn into folk music after meeting Andrew Jordan (later The Plate Scrapers’ guitarist). Derek explains, “Mutual friends would have a Sunday ‘picking party’ at their farm, and every Sunday for a couple of years straight, people would just come out and kind of hang out and play music, swim in the pool, and have a potluck…That’s how I got into playing bluegrass and Americana…”

Making new friends and absorbing a lot of the bluegrass songbook brought about a logical next step. Derek says they realized “We’re learning all these song, we’ve amassed this repertoire—why don’t we actually have a band and go play gigs?…” So they did just that and started playing out and attending bluegrass festivals; they also started writing their own music along the way. “I always gravitated toward writing music…and when I started playing in this genre that was kind of new to me…when I started playing banjo, I used that as a vehicle to write songs…It didn’t take long to amass enough original songs so that we said, ‘Hey man, we need to make a CD!’…” The result was the band’s first album, Contact, a 12-song, all-original collection released in 2016. To date, they’ve released three live albums and three studio albums and are set to release a fourth studio effort, Artifacts, in June 2024.

Along with Derek and Andrew the band’s current lineup also includes Robbie Mann (fiddle), Jody Mosser (dobro), and Kevin Johnson (bass). The members live in four different states, but actually not that far from each other, centered on western Maryland.

To find out more, visit Listen to the interview here.

By Dan Walsh