Hailing from Carbondale, Illinois -- a city in the southern reaches of the state -- the Bankesters are a family bluegrass band who skillfully walk the line between the past and present. Dominated by the harmonies of sisters Melissa Triplett, and Emily Bankester, the Bankesters have a delicate touch but they're not mere sweetness: the original songs are sturdily constructed and their cover choices, including White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army" on 2017's Nightbird, are clever.
The Bankesters lineup of fiddler/banjoist/vocalist Emily Bankester, mandolinist/fiddler/vocalist Alysha Bankester, bassist/vocalist Melissa Triplett, banjoist Kyle Triplett (he's married to Melissa), guitarist Phil Bankester, and Dorene Bankester coalesced in the late 2000s. The group released three independent records -- Amen, There's a Higher Power, Somewhere in Between, Sure as the Sun -- before signing to Compass for 2012's Looking Forward. The album gained some attention -- the International Bluegrass Music Awards nominated Emily as Momentum Vocalist of the Year -- setting up 2013's Love Has Wheels. That album featured a cover of "Cups (When I'm Gone)," the Anna Kendrick hit single from the 2012 musical comedy Pitch Perfect, and the Bankesters' version received some radio play. By the time of 2017's Nightbird, Dorene was no longer a full-time member of the group. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine