|Brown Eyed Women||Vacilador|| |
|Caged Lion||The Joke, The Threat, & The Obvious|| |
|Run Dogs Run||The Joke, The Threat, & The Obvious|| |
|Eventually||The Joke, The Threat, & The Obvious|| |
|Circles||The Joke, The Threat, & The Obvious|| |
|Ragweed Rose||Vacilador|| |
|I Can't Stay||Vacilador|| |
|Just One Thing||Great Possessions|| |
|Forgiveness And Permission||Vacilador|| |
|Moonlight Lady||The Joke, The Threat, & The Obvious|| |
In a May 27, 2012 opinion piece in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, "Pert Near Sandstone" and "Trampled By Turtles" were singled out as examples of terrible Minnesota band names.
From early in their childhood in Boulder, Colorado, Chris and Oliver were steeped in American roots music. Their father, a molecular biologist, performed classic songs at camp fires and family gatherings, while their mother, a poet, instilled a passion for storytelling and turn of phrase. The brothers bonded over bluesmen such as Jimmy Reed and Lightnin' Hopkins, but their paths, musical and otherwise, would diverge. Oliver moved to Atlanta, where he played guitar in cover bands before earning a spot in Tinsley Ellis’s touring act. At Ellis’s behest, Oliver began to sing and then founded King Johnson, a hard-touring group that released six albums of blues-inflected R&B, funk and country over the next 12 years. Chris, meanwhile, studied jazz bass at the New England Conservatory of Music, moved to New York City and, in the early 1990s, formed Medeski Martin & Wood, which over the next two decades would become a cornerstone of contemporary jazz and abstract music.
Their style of music is often referred to as "transcendental folk," which incorporates elements of Scottish/Celtic fiddle tunes, original folk pieces, traditional ballads, bluegrass, psychedelic country, indie rock, reggae, 40s/50s jazz standards and an occasional hip-hop beat. All members of the band are multi-instrumentalists and contribute vocals and to songwriting.
Individually and collectively the band members have performed with or opened for Dispatch, Bela Fleck, John Paul Jones, Devotchka, Michael Franti, Little Feat, Yonder Mountain String Band, Nickel Creek, George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, Leftover Salmon, Railroad Earth, State Radio, String Cheese Incident, Shanti Groove, and others.
out shows in the US and abroad, appearances on national radio & TV, four solid selling records, and four really dirty suits. "We want to be the band that puts on the most professional show in the business of what we do," says singer/guitarist/songwriter Dave Wilson. "If you've taken your time to be there for us, we are going to prove we are
there for you."
It's that sincerity of showmanship and professionalism that has led to countless miles on the road for CCL. "We've worn out two vans by now and I've actually worn out a few ties as well," says John Te John Teer. "You ever hear of someone wearing out a tie?" Teer plays mandolin and fiddle and sings high tenor for the band. It is this commitment that has fans driving hundreds of miles to see Chatham County Line Chatham County Line at work on the road. "We've had fans travel from another country to catch a show," reflects banjoist Chandler Holt, continuing, "That's when you know you're doing something right." Releasing IVIVIV to critical acclaim in 2008, CCL was invited to be on Later. . . with Jools Holland on BBC 2 in the UK, alongside such acts as The Raconteurs, Nick Cave, and Bon Iver. "Now that was a party," muses standup bassist Greg Readling Greg Readling. "When you've got those guys coming up and introducing themselves to you, all the miles just melt away."
The newest addition to their catalog, Wildwood, is no departure from the path CCL has been carving during its decade of existence. Another strong batch of songs, with solid melodies and lyrics, telling the tales of what all those years on the road have brought to them. "I guess I'm out of the running / Thanks for your applause," sings Dave Wilson on the track Out of the Running. "We may never grace the cover of Rolling Stone," Dave says, "but at this
point, that is not something we care about. We might reach for the stars, but we're mostly concerned with making great music that speaks to us and our fans."
It's this sense of dedication that fuels songs such as Crop Comes In, a great showcase for the addition of drums to the band's usual all-string lineup. "Yeah, so we have Zeke Hutchins (Tift Merritt, Sara Watkins, Hotel Lights) sitting there in the studio on a rare break from the road, so lets put him to work," Wilson explains. "Though we're still going to tour as a four piece acoustic band, a record is something special, right?
Recorded live to tape in Pawtucket, RI, "Salt For Salt" is the first album by Brown Bird to capture the intense energy of the duo's live show, surging in waves that often swell into high-spirited, foot-stomping madness. David Lamb's lyrics are as well-written as they are emotionally intelligent, thankfully avoiding the pitfalls of the wish-wash known as "modern-folk" or "singer-songwriting". Lamb and his partner MorganEve Swain write simply, and the record is eerily sparse at times - a tambourine, a bass drum and the cello often the sole accompaniement to Lamb's (what a name) cracked, wood-smoke voice.
Brown Bird are also not afraid to write experimentally - "Ebb and Flow" and "Shiloh" (the latter a longer, entirely instrumental track) each boast melodies worthy of a dervish, the melodic structure reminiscent more of Turkish or Greek rebetika than old-time or bluegrass. Lamb and Swain work beautifully together, with his banjo providing a backbone to a fiddle break, her harmonies a lonesome echo of the melody. But Brown Bird also know too much to be pure romantics; Lamb's continual reference to ships clearly come from his years spent working at the shipyard in Warren, RI, just as their arrangements well only from a deep knowledge of the American folk tradition.
Paring down from five musicians on their last album to the duo of Lamb and Swain on "Salt For Salt" resulted in some necessary instrument changes - Swain, a lifelong violinist, spends most of the album on cello and double bass, instruments she picked up in the past two years. Lamb has a kick drum and woodblock/tambourine rigged to a second pedal in front of him, using his whole body and voice to carry the rhythm and melody simultaneously. This new configuration propels each song forward with a blur of hands, feet and voices.
A cantankerous and drafty two-man ship stationed in Providence, RI, Brown Bird plays original, traditional American music in the best sense possible. It is music that comes from a context but is not afraid of the context: a living root with a view towards the leaves.
- Professor Charles Booth, July 4th, 2011