Town Mountain’s rendition of Grateful Dead’s “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo” will debut this Sunday, October 25th on Tales from the Golden Road on the SiriusXM Grateful Dead Channel. Robert Greer will chat with hosts David Gans and Gary Lambert at 4pm ET briefly and the show runs until 6pm. It’s is a call-in show and if you want to join the conversation, call 888-897-4748! it rebroadcast Mondays at 9am ET and Wednesdays at 1am ET.
More info at www.siriusxm.com/gratefuldead and www.facebook.com/tftgr.
“Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo” is one of two tracks Town Mountain recorded for their upcoming release, Town Mountain: The Dead Session, which hits the streets on November 13th. They recorded an impromptu set of two of their favorite songs from the Grateful Dead’s catalog at the widely acclaimed Echo Mountain Recording Studios in their hometown of Asheville, NC. The other track is “Big River” which was written by Johnny Cash in 1958; but true to The Dead’s fashion they would take other people’s songs or traditional songs and make them their own. They had a knack for finding covers that were transcendent of the original artist and they played it in almost 400 live performances.
“Wow, I like these hard-core acoustic honky-tonk takes on two Grateful Dead favorites!” says David Gans, musician and co-author of This Is All a Dream We Dreamed: An Oral History of the Grateful Dead, and Tales from the Golden Road co-host.
“Each member of this band has enjoyed the music of the Grateful Dead for quite some time,” says vocalist and guitarist Robert Greer. “It seemed only fitting for Town Mountain to pay respect to some musical heroes in this year, their 50th year of existence.”
This is the Grateful Dead done in Town Mountain’s hard drivin’ style filled with a honky tonk edge and barroom swagger. The resulting sound is touched by Jerry Garcia with Jimmy Martin and John Hartford… Fitting since Hartford played a short stint in Old and In The Way before Vassar Clements filled out the band on fiddle, and Garcia’s first instrument was a banjo as he was influenced by bluegrass music throughout his career.
“What can I say about “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo”? It’s just perfect. Lyrically it’s amazing,” says banjoist Jesse Langlais. “Robert Hunter can be so descriptive yet so vague in the point he’s trying to get across. Which is great for the audience because it allows listeners to choose what they want the song to be about. In my opinion that’s what a good songwriter does. He leaves the song open to interpretation.”
“Musically, ‘Mississippi’ is extremely fun to play with exciting changes and a lot going on melodically… almost like there’s two songs in one.” Langlais continues, “On the original studio version of this song Vassar Clements plays fiddle. Bobby and I tried to mimic the interplay that Jerry and Vassar had on it. This is just an amazing song, and and it made sense for us to record it because it had a bluegrass master involved. We adopted it into Town Mountain’s repertoire without changing the integrity of the song.”
“Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo” was written by Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter and originally released on Wake of the Flood in 1973. It was performed over 230 times live by The Dead over the years and the song was also the second set opener of the second night of the Fare Thee Well shows in Santa Clara this year.
The core of Town Mountain is Robert Greer on vocals and guitar, Jesse Langlais on banjo and vocals, Bobby Britt on fiddle, Phil Barker on mandolin and vocals, and Adam Chaffins on bass (Adam is featured on “Mississippi”). Evan Martin plays drums on both tracks. Jon Stickley fills in on bass and guitar in “Big River” and Jack Deveroux lays down the pedal steel on “Big River.”
For the cover art, Town Mountain turned to long time Grateful Dead artist Taylor Swope. Taylor has been creating official Grateful Dead art since the former VP of Grateful Dead Productions discovered her in a parking lot at a show in 2003 and offered her a license on the spot. Her work has become iconic in it’s own right, having become widely associated with the generations of Deadheads who have grown up in the wake of Jerry Garcia’s passing.
Riding the wave of excitement that followed Fare Thee Well where her poster was one of only four featured at both stadiums, and sharing Town Mountain’s deep appreciation for American roots music, Taylor says she “thoroughly enjoyed creating this image. I am obsessed with swimming and water in general, so when Town Mountain asked me to draw them a river with a Steal Your Face, it was a natural fit.”
Town Mountain is in it for the long haul… check out out where they’ll be travelin’ to next and keep an eye on TownMountain.net for further dates as well as a brand new selection of merchandise. For updates from the road, please visit facebook.com/TownMountain, twitter.com/TownMountain, and instagram.com/townmountainbluegrass.