Following appearances at the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts and the Acoustic Brew Concert Series, the Wiyos return to State College this weekend for what promises to be a different set of shows than any they’ve done here before.
The group, playing here as a trio, will perform Saturday and Sunday at the Elk Creek Cafe and Aleworks. Speaking earlier this week from New York, founding member Michael Farkas said the band has plenty of new material to share with fans this time around.
“We’ve got a new album that came out in September, and we’ve brought some of our older material back out and rearranged it so even things that people might have heard before will sound a little different” Farkas said.
The band’s new album, “Twist,” is loosely based on the “The Wizard of Oz” and was inspired by a friend at the University of Kansas. Farkas said the inspiration quickly went beyond the book and captures the band’s reflections from life on tour.
“We took the idea of the yellow brick road and used it as a loose way to talk about travel and day to day life on the road,” he said. “It’s sort of a day to day portrait of the American Dream as we see it. We really embraced the concept and created some of our strongest work.”
The band’s Sunday appearance at the Elk Creek Cafe is part of the Harry Smith Festival, a daylong tribute to the legacy of The Harry Smith Anthology of American Folk Music — a collection many musicians consider to be one of the greatest ever assembled.
The festival will feature performances from local and national; Farkas said the Wiyos excited to be part of it for the first time this year.
“We all love the Harry Smith catalog and have been fans of it for a long time,” Farkas said. “We’ve drawn from that well as many musicians have over the years and are excited to work up some of those tunes and arrange them in our way.”