When Ghost Light takes the AmeriServ Flood City Musical Festival stage, the band will be putting out an array of abstract sounds.
Bucking conventional tradition, rather than initially focusing on live shows, the band played together for the first time in a recording studio in Philadelphia.
That gave the band’s members – Holly Bowling, Tom Hamilton, Steve Lyons, Raina Mullen and Scotty Zwang – the ability to come to the project with fresh ears and no preconceived notions.
“About a year and a half ago, all of us were in different phases of looking for a new band and a new project to pour ourselves into,” said Bowling, who is the band’s pianist.
“Most of us had crossed paths in one way or another and played with each other over the past few years, but the five of us had never all met each other in one place.”
She said the first time they all played together also was the beginning of their debut set, “Best Kept Secrets.”
“The album has a lot of acoustic guitars and acoustic piano, and it’s a really different sound than our live show,” Bowling said. “We really focused on the songwriting and the production, where in our live shows we do a lot of improvisation. But there is none of that on the album.”
She said Ghost Light has a dual focus: carefully crafted songs with original songwriting and vocal harmonies, and improvisation in a live setting with unplanned music and composing in the moment.
“We definitely pull some from the jam band as far as the risks that we take and the improvising,” Bowling said, “but I think the songs themselves on the album don’t sound like a jam band.”
Ghost Light is currently on tour promoting “Best Kept Secrets.”
“We love playing festivals and that’s pretty much what our summer consists of,” Bowling said.
“It’s definitely a great time for musical cross pollination and hearing what other people are up to – and to play for an audience who might not be familiar with what we do.”
She said each night when the band members perform, they don’t come out with a set list.
“I think that’s pretty unique,” Bowling said. “I don’t know a lot of bands that do that. We have a call list that we’ve all decided that these will be the songs we might play. But we don’t decide what we’re going to do until we’re out there. It’s all unspoken, and we let the music and moment lead us to what will happen next.”
Bowling added: “I think there’s a desire for the songs themselves to connect with someone’s own experience – and the improvisation to let people slip away and be transported somewhere else.”