TOWN MOUNTAIN, SOUTHERN CRESCENT
LoHi Records 001
More than any other form of music, bluegrass is shaped and bred on place. Imagine Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs, and Bryan Sutton without North Carolina; Monroe and Bush without Kentucky; the Kentucky Colonels without Southern California; Hot Rize without Colorado. You can’t. Asheville, N.C., has bred its own share of legendary bluegrassers, particularly the superstar Steep Canyon Rangers and flatpicker extraordinaire Sutton. But that’s not all this hotbed of brilliant bluegrass has produced.
Town Mountain holds its own against all comers when it comes to producing a powerhouse bluegrass drive grown from deep roots. Much like Monroe’s original Blue Grass Boys show, the CD opens with a lickety-split fiddle number, “St. Augustine,” then the band shifts gears and rolls into an up-tempo, bouncy “Ain’t Gonna Worry” written and sung by the band’s mandolinist, Phil Barker.
Reflecting the multi-cultural scene around Asheville, the band downshifts into a Cajun-influenced “Comin’ Back To You” that sounds like Saturday night on the bayou done bluegrass style. And the title-tune powers up like a steam engine rolling from Asheville to Knoxville through the morning fog. And on it goes. “Wild Bird” recalls a lonesome mountain modal ballad of loss and regret. “Leroy’s Reel” is a catchy original by fiddler Bobby Britt with just enough melodic twists and turns to sound fresh and utterly original. “Arkansas Gambler” is another Town Mountain original that sounds straight from the still, honest and authentic to the roots of bluegrass. And “Whiskey With Tears” is one of those up-tempo, walking blues kind of tunes that The Rangers do so effectively, but here it’s clear this is Town Mountain’s sound on display.
Town Mountain is a modern-day bluegrass band with deep, deep roots based in the Blue Ridge Mountains they call home. Their name may imply a dichotomy between rural and urban, but their music runs as true-blue as a stream rolling down a steep mountainside. Highly recommended. (www.townmountain.net)DJM