The Steep Canyon Rangers have been busy over the last little bit, releasing two projects in wide release. The North Carolina Songbook is a re-release of sorts, having released the live album from their performance at Merlefest on Record Store Day originally on vinyl, it has now found its way to the digital sphere. They’ve also released a pseudo greatest hits record Be Still Moses that was recorded with the Asheville Symphony. We’ve never chatted with the band who are bluegrass stalwarts not only in their home state of North Carolina, but pretty much all over the country. So we got in touch with Woody Platt to talk about these two releases, and is usual the case, our conversation wandered into different subjects including the current state of bluegrass, the band’s history with comedian and banjo player Steve Martin and well, much more.
Carolina has always been home for Jim Lauderdale. While he makes his residency in Nashville, this prolific singer-songwriter who’s resume speaks for itself still has a vast network of friends and family back all over the Carolinas and more specifically in North Carolina. His latest release, When Carolina Comes Home Again, his 33rd, draws on songs, stories, and indeed musicians who are now part of the scene in Carolina, most notably Ashville, North Carolina. It’s a record chalk full of amazing songs and performances. Our conversation took many twists and turns, as we spoke about the new record, John Oates, Robert Hunter and much more. When Carolina Comes Home Again is due out March 27th on Yep Roc records, and you’ll want to listen to it, over and over again. Heck, you may even want to move to North Carolina. For more on Jim a Lauderdale visit jimlauderdalemusic.com.
We've been following the career of Trout Steak Revival for quite some time, and while they've gone through some personnel changes and the like, as all bands do, the band has matured a great deal through their five records. What has remained constant though for this string band is their insistence to keep true to the bluegrass tradition, while branching out into other similar genres like Americana and folk. The Light We Bring sparks a new set of circumstances for the band, and their sound is one I dig a lot. So we caught up with Casey Houlihan the bass player in the band to get his take on the new record and much more. For more on Trout Steak Revival including tour dates, visit troutsteakrevival.com.
It feels like I just spoke to Mimi Naja from Fruition about the release of Wild as the Night. Turns out, my memory is spot on, because we spoke to her November 8th. At the time, I thought the record, was one of the best of 2019 and kind of left things at that. Well, we were all surprised I think, except obviously Mimi and the rest of Fruition, that the band intended on releasing a companion album, Broken at the Break of Day on January 17th. Should have known, because Mimi was quite coy, and even their manager mentioned to me, that more great tunes were in store. Well, I've listened to Broken at the Break of Day and I can honestly tell you, it picks up where Wild as the Night left off, and maybe even better than that first side, depending on your taste, I suppose. It also feels like, between these two records, and more specifically on Broken at the Break of Day, Fruition has cracked the code, as to what is their sound, and what we can expect moving forward. You should, if you can, listen to both back to back, or get the vinyl when it comes out. All of those details are at fruitionband.com.
Since we're all psyched about the news that the Lil Smokies will be releasing a new studio album Tornillo in the new year, thought we would get in touch with with Jake Simpson the band's fiddle player and one of the voices of the band. While we couldn't play any tunes from the record for you just yet, I can tell you that the Lil Smokies third studio album might be their finest yet. Our interview is filled with lots of terrific insight into the band, their new record Tornillo and all the touring that they do. Mark down January 24th on your calendars, and make sure you check out the new record. For more info on that record, and the band's tour schedule visit thelilsmokies.com.
The latest release from Keller Williams and the Keels is "Speed". It's a whimsical record full of great covers and a couple of originals from Keller Williams and one half of The Keels, flat picker Larry Keel. Of course Jenny Keel, the other half of The Keels, also plays upright bass on the entire record. So why would someone as prolific as Keller Williams need an additional outlet for fun? While that isn't entirely clear, it was good to talk with Keller about this project and what inspired its impetus. Speed is a ton of fun and a record you should check out. In fact you should check out Keller on the road, where he may indeed be appearing with the Keels. You can check out his busy tour schedule and more at kellerwilliams.net.
The Kitchen Dwellers are on the rise, and are quickly becoming a staple on the Bluegrass scene and within the larger Jam Band community. They recently released a new record that they funded with a highly successful Kickstarter campaign. In fact, they invited Chris Pandolfi of the Infamous Stringdusters to produce this record. It’s a solid effort so we tracked down mandolinist Shawn Swain to talk about the record, its songs and much more. For more on the Kitchen Dwellers, visit kitchendwellers.com.
November 8th marks the release of Fruition's latest record Wild as the Night. I can say without any doubt, that this is one of my top records of the year. It is such a gorgeous presentation of lyrics, melodies, musicianship and a laid back vibe. More to the point, the record is a coming of age project for the band, which helps them shed any neo-bluegrass tags it may have had and presents a more complete aesthetic of what they've become. We've chatted with Kellen and Jay in the past, but fortunately we were able to track down Mimi Naja to talk about this metamorphosis and what it means for the band and their fans. To learn more about the band, including tour dates, visit frutionband.com.
Old Salt Union has been making string music for about 7 years now, and what’s impressive aside from their talent is their eclectic sound even though they are a string band who play very traditional music. They blend several styles to make up their own very unique sound. Jesse Farrar is a vocalist and bass player with the band. He probably has the greatest insight into their music and place within the bluegrass and larger music community, so it was great to sit down and talk all things Old Salt Union. For tour dates at some cool videos visit oldsaltunion.com.
Jay Cobb Anderson will be releasing a solo EP August 23rd entitled, "Everything is Gonna Work Its Own Self Out". Jay as you may recall or know is part of new grass outfit Fruition, though you wouldn’t know he is in a string band if you listen to the new EP. It’s full of electricity, big riffs and more. We caught up with Jay working on a new Fruition record which we’ll get too, but our conversation started when I asked what inspired this solo effort. For more on Jay Cobb Anderson visit jaycobbanderson.com and for Fruition updates visit fruitionband.com.
While he isn’t specifically a typical “jam band” musician, G.Love has found a home within the community. Kind of makes sense when consider this delta blues/hip-hop musician not only saw the Dead as a kid, but has been on the scene for years. He was recently in Toronto on tour with Blues Traveler and moe. and we caught up to talk about well, just about everything. For more on G.Love visit philadelphonic.com.
Tides of A Teardrop is Mandolin Orange's latest release, and we only recently had the opportunity to sit down with them. Their last record, 2016's Blindfaller garnered wild acclaim, and I can tell you that Tides of a Teardrop should eclipse that. It's a deeply personal record, written primarily by Andrew Marlin, with some input from Emily Frantz. Together, the duo make absolutely incredible roots music, beyond the bluegrass label they've been tagged with. This interview is an intimate one with Andrew Marlin. A very intimate behind the scenes conversation with Andrew Marlin. His comments regarding Jeff Austin were so poignant and beautiful too. You can catch Mandolin Orange at several festivals and solo dates throughout the summer. For those details visit mandolinorgange.com.
Andy Thorn is set to release a new solo record, Frontiers Like These, and I can tell you its pretty amazing. In case you aren't familiar with Andy's name or work, he is the banjo player for Leftover Salmon, after joining the Emmit-Nershi band in Colorado back in 2008. This transplanted North Carolinian, is massive talent, who plays banjo like few others, and his finger picking is superb. We caught up with Andy on a break from the heavy touring that he does, back home in Colorado, high atop the sea, like 7300 feet in fact. If you're looking for that cool video for Blazing New Frontiers, click here. For more on Andy Thorn, and to pre-order the record visit andythornmusic.com.
When you first hear Trout Steak Revival, you'll quickly fall in love with their terrific song writing, and beautiful vocal arrangements, to say nothing of their fantastic playing. They are, for all intents and purposes a Colorado Bluegrass band, but that classic sound doesn't do them justice. Trout Steak Revival are a band bigger than any specific genres, blending folk, americana, and yes bluegrass, mostly of course due to their configuration without a drummer, and the instruments they do play. We've been on their trail for a while, since our friend Chris Pandolfi of The Infamous Stringdusters produced their last two records. Aside from their sound, the other thing that hits you, is their name. Oh no, not another acoustic band named for fish... actually, when we sat down with Steve Foltz of Trout Steak Revival, I asked why there are so many bluegrass bands with fishy names, and thats where our conversation started. For more on Trout Steak Revival visit troutsteak.com.