Groups bond led to formation of popular local band

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By Matthew Wickstrom

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During the dog days of summer 2013, Casen Baumgardner and Joe Schlaak often gathered on the porch of the Wildcat Market in Lexington to feed their appetite for music. While regularly playing with one another, the two developed a tight bond, and formed what is now known as the Restless Leg String Band.

The quartet is comprised of Baumgardner on lead guitar, Alex Guagenti on mandolin, Schlaak on bass, and Ishi Wooton on fiddle. All four members also lend their voices to the band’s twangy concoction of bluegrass, which draws upon the music of Ricky Skaggs, Jeff Austin, Bill Monroe and the Rumpke Mountain Boys, among others.

Guagenti, also a mechanical engineering senior at UK, said it’s tough at times balancing schoolwork, time with the band, and other obligations, but it’s well worth it. Guagenti is also a mathematics minor.

Wooton, the sole cog of the band who is not a founding member, officially joined the others late last summer, after sitting in with them many times earlier in the year at festivals and at other gigs. Wooton is formerly of the band The Bloodroots Barter out of Southeastern Kentucky.

“There was a bit of adjusting to their (RLSB) sound and rhythm,” Wooton said. “But after that we all got our timing down pretty quickly since what they’d been playing was already similar in ways to what I’d been playing.”

The Restless Leg String Band has a bi-weekly Sunday night gig in Lexington at Cosmic Charlie’s, nicknamed “Sunday Service,” which has no cover charge.

According to Baumgardner, the band’s Sunday Service shows are some of their favorites because they allow the band extra time to practice, giving them the opportunity to try out new songs and experiment in front of some of their most loyal fans and friends.

The Restless Leg String Band’s passion for music has them performing three or four times a week, and often times more during festival season.

When they are not the ones playing, members of the Restless Leg String Band are often seen at bars and venues around Lexington supporting and collaborating with other local artists.

“We love playing, and we know that if we plan on being full-time musicians someday we’ll need to be used to performing a lot of shows consecutively,” said Baumgardner.

A packed schedule of shows awaits the Restless Leg String Band in the coming weeks. The band will travel to Terrapin Hill Farm in Harrodsburg, Ky, on Halloween for Snuggleween, a festival hosted by Cincinnati’s Rumpke Mountain Boys. The band’s regular Sunday gig at Cosmic Charlie’s starts back up on Oct. 11 and continues through the remaining Sunday’s in the month. They will play shows at Keeneland and Blue Stallion Brewing on Saturday, Oct. 3, followed by a show on Friday, Oct. 9, at Proud Mary Honky Tonk & BBQ which will round out a busy October for the band.

“Kentucky is full of a lot of good musicians, but most of us are just now starting to break out of the state and expose other areas to our music,” said Schlaak.

CORRECTION: Alex Guagenti is not a founding member.