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Raw, soulful, and with plenty of swagger,
Town Mountain releases 5th album, Southern Crescent,
April 1, 2016 on LoHi Records

Produced by Dirk Powell at his Cypress House studio
in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana

ASHEVILLE — In much the same way that iconic southern dishes such as Louisiana gumbo or Brunswick stew can include any number of flavorful ingredients, so too does bluegrass music rely on a recipe that can vary wildly, depending on who’s doing the cooking. For Asheville, North Carolina-based bluegrass band Town Mountain, the key ingredient of the musical stew that is their career-defining fifth album, Southern Crescent, is the same confident – yet entirely embraceable – swagger that has distinguished the group since they first formed in 2005. The new album is due out on April 1, 2016 on LoHi Records.

Final Cover Lo Res

With an insatiable musical hunger, the members of Town Mountain (Robert Greer on vocals and guitar, Jesse Langlais on banjo and vocals, Bobby Britt on fiddle, Phil Barker on mandolin and vocals, and Nick DiSebastian* on bass) made their way to the little south-central Louisiana town of Breaux Bridge, where they recorded their most cohesive, most satisfying album to date. Produced by legendary GRAMMY-winning musician (and Louisiana transplant) Dirk Powell at his Cypress House studio, with low-swooping live oak trees and the picturesque Bayou Teche nearby, Southern Crescent is nothing less than a musical tour-de-force. Adam Chaffins* plays bass in the touring outfit.

The 2013 winners of IBMA Momentum Awards for Performance Band and Vocalist of the Year (Robert Greer), Town Mountain has earned raves for their hard-driving sound, their in-house songwriting and the honky-tonk edge that permeates their exhilarating live performances, whether in a packed club or at a sold-out festival. Just as a gumbo recipe starts with the “holy trinity” of staples (onions, bell peppers and celery), and can contain a wide variety of additional ingredients and inspiration, the hearty base of Town Mountain’s music is the bluegrass triumvirate of Bill Monroe, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. It’s what else goes into the mix that brings it all to life both on stage and on record and reflects the group’s wide-ranging influences – from the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia and the ethereal lyrics of Robert Hunter, to the honest, vintage country of Willie, Waylon and Merle.

Southern Crescent was recorded in a decidedly old-school way, live, with minimal fixes and overdubs, with all the musicians in the same room and no noise-reducing baffling between them. The result: a raw, soulful album that prompted iconic singer-songwriter Jim Lauderdale to enthuse in the liner notes, “The first time I heard Town Mountain I loved, respected, and enjoyed them. And I do now more than ever. They have stuck with their deep bluegrass roots but as they have with all of their releases, they have grown and expanded. They sound like Carolina, and they carry that sound farther and farther with Southern Crescent, their latest gem.”

In spite of not having worked with Powell as their producer before, singer-songwriter Robert Greer says he walked away from the experience “thinking this is how I want to record every record from this point on.” It probably didn’t hurt that Powell’s mom, who lives next door to the studio, was keeping the group supplied with coffee and homemade chocolate chip cookies.

The new album is being released on LoHi Records. Based in Greensboro, N.C., the label is a partnership formed by entrepreneur and marketing veteran Jim Brooks with singer/songwriter and record producer Todd Snider, record producer Tim Carbone (who also plays fiddle in newgrass band Railroad Earth) and Chad Staehly from Gold Mountain Entertainment in Nashville.

Town_Mountain_355_Credit_SandlinGaither

Town Mountain. Photo by Sandlin Gaither

Each of Town Mountain’s members contributed songs to Southern Crescent, with Barker, Langlais and Greer the chief writers in the band. A democratic process determines what they’ll record, but the greatest factor, especially on the new record, is audience reaction, which is basically what led to release of the band’s first official live album, Town Mountain: Live At The Isis, in 2014. “We’ve gone into the studio before with new stuff but every tune on this record had been road-tested,” says Greer. “We go in to the recording situation and we have our tunes arranged already because we’ve been playing them on stage. That’s a contributing factor to successfully being able to record them live, because we’re used to doing them night after night.”

From the boogie-woogie piano of Jerry Lee Lewis that inspired the delightful (and danceable) “Coming Back to You,” to Greer’s cleverly penned and fast-paced “Tick on a Dog,” which offers a taste of another major bluegrass influence, Jimmy Martin, Southern Crescent is tailor-made to keep live audiences on their feet, but it’ll also keep those who think they can easily peg Town Mountain on their toes. “With live music, anything can happen,” Greer acknowledges. “It’s not supposed to be perfect but does it have soul!”

The music, perhaps, should also come with a road map. As Langlais explains, “A lot of the material is based around traveling. You start to peel back the lyrics of the songs and see that a lot of the material is about being out on the road and the experiences – positive or negative – that we may have living the lifestyle.”

Just as the guys find a wealth of musical inspiration in each other, there’s admittedly a little frustration that comes from being in a band with several other gifted songwriters at the same time. As Langlais explains, “You want to make sure you’re up there and everybody else is feeling the same about you. It’s good to have multiple writers in the band because it gives your audience more variety.”

That variety is indeed part of what drives Southern Crescent, which opens with Britt’s delightfully dizzying fiddle work on “St. Augustine,” and showcases Greer’s hard-country vocals on “House With No Windows” and on the freewheeling composition “Ain’t Gonna Worry Me,” (penned by Barker). The group members’ palpable chemistry (and individual artistry) are displayed throughout such instantly memorable tracks as “Wildbird,” (Barker) and “I Miss the Night,” which Langlais penned (with Mark Bumgarner) after experiencing 22 hours of daylight during Alaska’s summer solstice.

“Bands are constantly trying to define their sound, a sound that sets them apart from every other band, especially in genre as small as bluegrass,” says Langlais. “Our approach has been to find what our sound inherently will be and build off of that. Granted, we are taking a piece of what Bill Monroe’s band did in order to make our own bluegrass band. That’s just inevitable. But he borrowed from all these other genres, too – rock ‘n’ roll, country music, Scots-Irish fiddle music. I think we have realized what our sound is with this album.”

Greer, who hosts occasional nights of acoustic classic country and bluegrass in Asheville called Cornmeal Waltz (after a Guy Clark song), understands the music-food connection, saying that no matter what goes into gumbo or Brusnwick stew, they’re still “as southern as red clay.” The same is certainly true of Southern Crescent, Town Mountain’s prize-worthy signature dish.

Town Mountain on Tour 2016:
3/4-5 Fri-Sat – Hilton Head Island Seafood Festival – Hilton Head, SC
3/19 Sat – The Rabbit Hole – Charlotte, NC (with Jeff Austin Band)
4/1 Fri – The Grey Eagle – Asheville, NC
4/2 Sat – Newgrass Brewing Company – Shelby, NC
4/5 Tue – Hampton Taphouse – Hampton, VA
4/6 Wed – Gypsy Sally’s – Washington, DC
4/7 Thu – Lizard Lounge – Cambridge, MA
4/8 Fri – Hill Country BBQ – New York, NY
4/10 Sun – Tin Angel – Philadelphia, PA
4/12 Tue – Haymarket Whiskey Bar – Louisville, KY
4/13 Wed – Cosmic Charlie’s – Lexington, KY
4/14 Thu – The Station Inn – Nashville, TN
4/15 Fri – Barley’s – Knoxville, TN
4/16 Sat – Waverly “Old 280” Boogie – Waverly, AL
4/17 Sun – Zydeco – Birmingham, AL
5/28 Sat – Rooster Walk – Martinsville, VA
6/24 Fri – ROMP Fest – Owensboro, KY
7/23 Sat – Homegrown Music Festival – Ozark, AR

For more information, please visit TownMountain.net, facebook.com/TownMountain, twitter.com/TownMountain, and instagram.com/townmountainbluegrass

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Moses Atwood CD Release

Co-bill with Johnson’s Crossroad

Friday, March 30th
$10, Doors is 9:30 / Show is at 10pm
Lexington Ave Brewery
39 North Lexington Avenue
Asheville, 28801
(828) 252-0212

Asheville’s Moses Atwood will be teaming up with Johnson’s Crossroad for a Co-Bill at the Lexington Ave. Brewery on Friday, March 30th.

Moses will be celebrating the release of his NEW album One Bright Boat. Joining Moses for his set will be Dave Mack on bass, Jacob Baumann on Drums, Evan Martin on Guitar, and other special guests! Moses will also be sitting in with Johnson’s Crossroad (JXR) for a song or two.

Johnson’s Crossroad has a lot in store this year and are going to be heading back in the studio to record a 3rd album. Their 2011 release Mockingbird was voted #7 on WNCW’s Top 20 Regional Albums! Having played around 140 shows in 2011, they continue on their travels and are performing Merlefest for the 3rd year in a row and were added to the John Hartford Memorial Fest in IN and Band Lands Bluegrass in WV in 2012!

***     *****     ***

Moses Atwood sets sail with sophomore effort, One Bright Boat
It’s been four years since singer/songwriter Moses Atwood (also known for his work with Johnson’s Crossroad and The Overflow Jug Band) released his self-titled debut. That was in 2008; suddenly last fall Atwood decided it was time to put together his new collection of songs, One Bright Boat. So he rounded up a group of musicians and headed to Waking Studio, the new digs of Bill Moriarty (Dr. Dog) in Philadelphia. There, Atwood and company knocked out the nine tracks in a mere week. The songs, he says, were culled from the years since his first album. While some date back to when he lived in Maine, most were written in North Carolina over the last few years.

Atwood choose Waking Studio because he wanted to take his musicians (including Michael Libramento of Floating Action) out of their routines. And it was time: “I’d found so many ways of circumventing the actual making of the record that I was like, ‘book the dates, get the people and do it.'” A week is a push, but, Atwood says, “Limitations are a really valuable thing in any artistic process — how many limitations and how you impose them is the trick.”

One Bright Boat doesn’t sound pressured or hurried. It opens with rollicking piano, the easy jingle of tambourine and tasteful flourishes of guitar. Atwood’s voice is what colors in the picture, relaxed and rich, rising effortlessly in a warm baritone.

“I’m tired of being the sad man, tired of all the sad songs. I’m tired of living my life like I’ve done something wrong,” he imparts on the spirit-lifting, cloud- parting title track.

If Atwood’s first record paid homage to his troubadour heroes (Woody Guthrie, Utah Phillips), One Bright Boat is less road-weary and more refined as Atwood leaves the minstrel role for that of bandleader in the style of Van Morrison and Randy Newman.

Running like a current through the record is Atwood’s talent for telling a story in fleeting images and washes of sound. These aren’t ballads but modern song-sketches of places longed for and passed through, people met and parted with, time passing. There’s space on each track — an easy flow of tides and waltzes (“California”), of pedal steel accents and Atwood’s comfortable flannel- and-bourbon vocal polished with (on “At Last”) gospel and brass.

“In recording, I feel like you’re recreating or capturing a moment in time,” says Atwood. “With modern recording you’re at constant great risk of losing the value of the moment, losing the essence of what you’ve got going on. But if you go all for capturing the moment, you don’t have a record, you just have a live performance. There’s a balance that the best records achieve.”

For a young artist, Atwood comes admirably close to that balance. It’s an album that rings both fresh and familiar, of-a-time and timeless. With One Bright Boat, Atwood’s ship comes in.

***          *****          ***

Johnson’s Crossroad has been described by friends and fans as everything from “Appalachian Soul” to “Hillbilly Metal.”

The band blends blues, roots-rock, folk, bluegrass, and Appalachian Old Time for a sound that The Daily Times’ Steve Wildsmith calls “both mournful and jubilant, breezy and graveyard serious.”  He goes on to comment that frontman Paul Johnson’s voice “barely rises above a growl, but he stretches that sound to encompass the experience of a train-hopping hobo and the wisdom of an old man recalling loves lost and wars fought from the porch of a backwoods cabin.”

Their 2011 album Mockingbird puts songwriter Paul Johnson in line with names like Guy Clark or Zac Brown and his powerful voice evokes memories of folk stars like Taj Mahal or Burl Ives. The Wilmington Star News describes, “It’s gruff and easygoing, like a mix of Tom Waits and Ben Knox Miller of The Low Anthem.“  AmericanaUKexclaims, “With ‘Mockingbird’ Johnson’s Crossroad seem to have just proved themselves to be one of the finest Roots rockers around right now.” The album was voted the #7 Regional albums of 2012 by WNCW!

The sincerity of Johnson’s songs and simplicity of his lyrics make you want to pour a brew, put your feet up or head to the hills. Asheville’s Bold Life call the band a “treat to see live” and says that, “Paul Johnson has a knack for creating powerful visuals with straightforward lyrics.” Dobro, mandolin and fiddle back up Johnson’s clean lyrics on some, other times its simple finger picking to a folksong.

“I like to keep the words simple,” said Paul Johnson. “I try and follow Hank Williams as much as possible, let the words tell the story and the music back it up,” Johnson said.  His inspiration is simple yet intently focused. “I was born in the mountains of West Virginia, I’ve always been in the mountains all my life,” said Johnson who now calls Asheville, NC home.

“This is what I’ve always wanted to do, travel around and pick guitar,” said Johnson, who writes the majority of the songs for Johnson’s Crossroad. Watching his back is mandolin player Keith Minguez, a strong friendship at the core of the group.

“In 1998 I met Paul and I saw John Hartford on my first visit to MerleFest, it was life changing” said Minguez.  Then in 2004 he had enough, “I was 30, living in Florida, drinking with my dad’s buddies and they all said the same thing, ‘drink scotch and water and never stop chasing your dream.’”  He called Paul and in 13 hours was at his door with mandolin in hand.  “If Keith wasn’t around nothing would get done,” laughed Johnson. Friends Corey Lee McQuade (Dobro, banjo, harmonies) and Moses Atwood (keyboard, Dobro, harmonies) sit in on variety of gigs, and often other friends join in support Johnson’s constant search for great sound.

The band is returning to Blue Ridge Big Sky Music Studio (appropriately topping a peak above Moravian Falls, NC) to record their 3rd album in 2012.  Who could resist after the experience they had last time around?  It’s where they’re comfortable, it’s where everything is comfortable.  Making music with friends, fans and family. At the studio, it’s a drive to the county line to get a little cell reception and distraction is not so digital, just were they need to be. They are looking for an early 2013 release and will be spending time over the summer and fall getting the next one just right, working again with John Adair as Engineer and Producer.

Since their first album Blood in Black and White they’ve won spots at national events like Merlefest, Floyd Fest, Music City Roots and Bristol Rhythm and Roots, with tours to the Northeast and Midwest that continue throughout 2012. Years playing the road to empty rooms have passed. Johnson’s Crossroad travels on with over 150 shows and a world of mountains ahead to climb.

***     *****     ***

Check out this video of Moses with JXR performing the song “Louisiana” that is on One Bright Boat.

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Donna the Buffalo is on for a great weekend heading through Nashville, Greensboro, and Asheville. There are lots of great interviews for the shows which are posted below. Co-band leader, Tara Nevins, kicked of the day yesterday with a solo studio session on the Lightning  100 with Lt Dan. Then the band went over to the Loveless Barn for a Music City Roots performance with other amazing artist including  Catie Curtis, The Cleverlys, The Black Lillies, and Rayland Baxter. Check out some wonderful pics from the night here.

DtB will be playing on Cannery Street tonight in Nashville at the Mercy Lounge with the Roy Jay Band, who is on the road with DtB for several shows this winter. Here’s a nice writeup in the Nashville Scene by Edd Hurt about the show:

Photo by Jim Gavenus

Folkies with a superior sense of rhythm are rare enough, but folkies with a good beat and a healthy disrespect for eclectic clichés are a national treasure. Hailing from the metropolis of Trumansburg, N.Y., Donna the Buffalo began playing their mixture of country, soul, zydeco and folk 20 years ago, and they’ve never sounded better. On their 2008 full-length Silverlined, songwriters Tara Nevins and Jeb Puryear came up with such great songs as “Biggie K,” which may be the finest tune ever written about childbirth: “Though her stomach’s stretched and pulled / She’s never been more beautiful.” The quintet’s easy way with American roots music suggests a fusion of Brinsley Schwarz and The Holy Modal Rounders, and they make music that’s beautiful but never prettified. They say they have a couple of projects in the works, including a full-band effort and a solo record by Nevins.  Read the original post at nashvillescene.com.

On Friday, January 28th, they head on over to Greensboro, NC to play at the new Blind Tiger. David McCracken, DtB’s B3 Hammond player, grew up in Greensboro and did this great interview with Eddie Huffman from GoTriad.com:

photo by Jim Gavenus

From the moment Greensboro native Dave McCracken first saw Donna the Buffalo play live, at MerleFest in 1997, he knew he belonged in the band.

“I watched them for the first time, and I remember I saw them move the organ across the stage,” McCracken says, speaking by phone from his mother’s house in Liberty. “I said out loud, ‘Man, that should be me.’ Ten years later — 10 years later! — it’s me. I swear, I don’t even know how that happened. I just knew it should be me for some reason.”

. . .    . . .    . . .

Donna the Buffalo formed in 1989 in upstate New York but has made many N.C. connections in the years since — McCracken and North Wilkesboro’s MerleFest among them. The group signed with Sugar Hill Records, a fixture in Durham for more than two decades before the label moved its offices to Nashville, and the members of Donna the Buffalo founded the twice-yearly Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance in rural Chatham County, now entering its eighth year.

. . .    . . .    . . .

Jam band fans already knew McCracken via Folkswaggin’, which started in Greensboro in 1994 and played at the Blind Tiger regularly.

“I really cut my teeth in that place,” he says. “That’s where I learned how to play keyboards. I’ve been playing there since ’97. I’ve gone through a lot of things in that place, and it means a lot to me. I’m looking forward to playing there again. It’s been a long time since I’ve been there.”

In recent years, McCracken has played at the Blind Tiger with Q-Bex, a version of the band Hobex which includes acclaimed drummer Jeff Sipe.

McCracken did a stint in Hobex about 10 years ago, and he played in a metal band called Perpetual Iniquity in Greensboro as a teenager in the late 1980s. But his musical ambitions go all the way back to his early childhood in the 1970s.

“Playing music for a living was seriously a dream I had when I was, like, 3,” McCracken says. “You know how Facebook reunites people so much? I reunited with somebody who was my friend until I was 5. He was like, ‘Wow, you’re playing music for a living.’ He said it wasn’t surprising at all because all I talked about back then was how I wanted to do it.”

. . .    . . .    . . .

Read the full article at gotriad.news-record.com

Tara Nevins also interviewed for the Blind Tiger show. She spoke with Laura Graff from the Winston-Salem Journal. Here is a bit of the article:

Photo by Lewis Tezak Jr

Donna the Buffalo’s music belongs on the festival circuit — it’s an engaging mix of roots, bluegrass, reggae, country and New Orleans-inspired zydeco. . .

. . .     . . .    . . .

“We just come from a base of traditional music,” said Tara Nevins, one of the band’s original members. Nevins formed the band with Jeb Puryear, and both play old-time fiddle.

“Over the years of playing fiddle music, we discovered other traditional music,” Nevins said. “We don’t do it on purpose, it’s just that we have a lot of music that we’ve been involved in over the years and that we love.”

Nevins, who started out playing the fiddle, bought an accordion about 20 years ago.

“That gave us a Louisiana flavor to our songs,” she said. “We just have a lot of musical influences, because of some of the different instruments we play, those flavors come out in our music.”

. . .    . . .    . . .

Nevins just finished work on a solo album, “Wood and Stone,” which will be released on Sugar Hill in April.”Wood and Stone” is her second solo album. The last, “Mule to Ride,” showcased the fiddle and was, Nevins said, more “old-time bluegrass.” This new album, she said, showcases her songwriting.

“I’ve written pretty much everything on the record,” Nevins said. “It’s not all about the fiddle the way the first one was.”

She said the band is planning to return to the studio in late February to work on a new album.

“It’s going to be a collaboration,” Nevins said. “We’re inviting other artists that we’ve played at with festivals over the years — artists we admire.”

Read the full article at www2.journalnow.com

On Saturday, the band jumps on the bus over to Asheville to play the Orange Peel. The Mountain Xpress wrote a nice little blurb about the show and some of DtB’s Asheville connections:

Kyle Spark. Photo by Lewis Tezak Jr.

For years, upstate N.Y.-based, self-desribed “Cajun/ zydeco, rock, folk, reggae and country” band Donna the Buffalo has long had an Asheville connection through it’s bassist. First it was Bill Reynolds (Band of Horses) then Jay Sanders (Acoustic Syndicate). Now DTB has Massachusetts bassist Kyle Spark but the group (who has toured for 21 years) still makes its semi-annual trek South (DTB is likely to pop up at regional warm-weather festivals). . .

Read the original post at: mountainx.com

Great weekend in store. We hope to see lots of the Herd around for these SouthEast shows!



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