Trail Mix: Groundhog Gravy & The Gauley River

Groundhog Gravy describes themselves as a bunch of aquaholics.

The members of this folk rock quartet, based in Fayetteville, West Virginia, ultimately crossed paths because of their passion for whitewater. All of the Gravy boys, when not dishing out funky rock and roll at night, spend their days as whitewater guides on the Gauley River.

After having dug into their tunes the last few weeks, I am really looking forward to catching them live. Also, I just might find myself on the river with them this summer for some whitewater and a riverside concert, as the band is now booking spots on their Groundhog Gravy Gauley overnight adventure.

I recently caught up with drummer Scott Ferris and guitarist/singer Ed Lehrter to chat about the Gauley, overnight rafting trips, and how to whip up some tasty groundhog gravy.

BRO – Which was scarier – first time hitting big rapids on the Gauley or your first time playing music on stage?

SF – Personally, my first time on the Gauley was a dizzying blur of fun and fear. It’s reputation had my nerves higher than getting on stage for the first time where I was nervous, yes, but still in a familiar setting behind my drums. Ed has a different opinion. He says, “Rapids can kill you, but playing music in public can incite the ridicule of your peers. Death is easier to come to terms with.”

BRO – Tell me about the Groundhog Gravy Gauley adventure.

SF – The Groundhog Gravy Gauley overnight is the culmination and union of two of our largest passions as individuals and as a group. Current and previous members of Groundhog Gravy are all Gauley guides, so in addition to being your fearless, talented, and humble river guides, we provide musical entertainment in the evening while we are at our overnight camping spot at the breathtakingly beautiful Canyon Doors. This is a special edition of our deluxe overnight and hasn’t yet been marketed except by word of mouth. It’s the best rafting trip you’ve never heard of.

BRO – Is there a symbiotic relationship between your time on the river and your music?

SF – Absolutely. I’d say a majority of our songs, and definitely all of Ed’s songs, are directly influenced by the river and the surrounding community. We all met by of our love of whitewater bringing us to the same place, and our bond continually strengthens with the trust that inherently grows by running dangerous whitewater as a team.

BRO – If you had to pick you one – the river or the music – could you? Which would it be?

SF – This is a difficult question. It feels like picking your favorite grandmother – you may have an answer, but you don’t want to say it out loud. Ed says he’d take the river. He grew up alongside a river and feels that he makes music by the physical interaction he has with the water. The day he quits the river and adventuring is the day the music in him dies. For me, I’d choose music. As a passion, it was here first and is deeper in my soul than anything. I’ll be playing and watching live music as long as I am able.

BRO – What’s the secret to good groundhog gravy?

SF – For a good groundhog gravy, trim a bit of the gristle off an ol’ fat groundhog, toss it in your family’s old cast iron skillet on low heat, use white flour from a brown burlap sack with dark stains on the outside to indicate freshness, and use cool, clear water from the well out back. Season to taste.

You can catch Groundog Gravy this weekend at the Wanderlust Muzik Festival in Hinton and then next weekend at the Rendezvous Lodge in Lansing. Both venues are in the band’s home state of wild and wonderful West Virginia. For more information on the band, be sure to paddle over to their website.

If you are interested in finding out more about the Groundhog Gravy Gauley overnight adventure, surf over to the Adventures On The Gorge website for that and more on all sorts of outdoor activities around the New and Gauley Rivers.

Places to Go, Things to See: