On Friday, Jan. 17 at 7:30 p.m., Serene Green will perform high-energy, hard-driving, traditional-style bluegrass songs, with an emphasis on tight arrangements, along with their original compositions in the Coolidge Theatre at the Deane Center for the Performing Arts, located at 104 Main St. in Wellsboro.
The collective musical vision of Pennsylvania natives Quentin Fisher, Michael Johnson, Shane McGeehan, and Steve Leonard is to produce a sound that highlights their original songs and youthful energy within the traditional bluegrass style. Fisher, Serene Green’s onstage spokesman, offers context to the songs with his informative and witty emcee work.
The members of Serene Green are all in their mid- to late twenties, work various construction jobs when they aren’t on tour and live in close proximity to one another, which makes it easier for them to practice on a weekly basis. McGeehan lives in Jim Thorpe, Leonard in Bowmanstown, Johnson in Slatington, and Fisher in Schnecksville.
Johnson and Fisher are lifelong friends. They were born and grew up in Bethlehem, Pa. and have been playing music together since their adolescent years in the early 2000s.
“We had a passion for playing acoustic guitars and singing outdoors and would often meet at a nearby park to practice,” Johnson said.
In the summer of 2011, Fisher bought a banjo and he and Johnson began playing their repertoire of folk songs at local coffee shops and bars. Fisher’s father, David, told the boys to look no further than a paint color index for a good sounding band name.
“He probably said it in jest but we took it to heart and landed on ‘Serene Green’,” Johnson said.
After a few years of playing in the Lehigh Valley area with a rotating cast of local musicians, Fisher and Johnson met Steve Leonard, a Hershey-born banjo player with lightning fast speed and an in-your-face banjo style.
“Steve would sit in with us when he wasn’t playing with his primary band, the Still Hand String Band,” said Johnson, noting that by then Fisher was playing mandolin as his primary instrument with Serene Green.
In 2013, Leonard introduced Johnson and Fisher to Shane McGeehan, a young bluegrass whiz from Jim Thorpe, Pa. who played guitar and upright bass and had a great voice.
“After one practice with Shane, it was clear he was what our band needed,” Johnson said, adding, “Shane joined Serene Green as the upright bass player and third singer, bringing with him a wealth of understanding of bluegrass music.”
When Still Hand String Band disbanded in 2017, Leonard officially joined Serene Green, and the band of four was on its way to becoming a bluegrass band with Johnson on guitar, Fisher on mandolin, McGeehan on bass, and Leonard on banjo.
Since early 2017, the foursome has written dozens of songs and instrumentals, released two studio albums, and played music venues and festivals in more than 15 states. The band has become an instant favorite at countless festivals, voted “Best New Artist’ at DelFest and winning over audiences at the NEPA Bluegrass Festival, Wilmington Winter Bluegrass Festival, Smoked Country Jam, 1000 Islands Bluegrass Festival, and AFBA Festival, among others.
Serene Green has collaborated with or opened for nationally-touring bands and artists including The Seldom Scene, David Bromberg, Railroad Earth, Sideline, Della Mae, Mile Twelve, Fireside Collective, Cabinet, Larry Keel, Jenni Lyn, and Jacob Jolliff.
This is a BYOB event. Audience members are welcome to bring beverages and snacks. Seating will be cabaret-style. Tickets are $20. For tickets and to reserve a table at no extra charge, call the Deane Center at (570) 724-6220 or visit www.deanecenter.com.