Town Mountain ~ Hard Drivin’ Carolina String Band
Raw, soulful, and with plenty of swagger, Town Mountain, based in Asheville, NC, released their 5th studio album, Southern Crescent, on April 1, 2016 on LoHi Records. Produced and engineered by GRAMMY winner Dirk Powell, Southern Crescent was recorded in Powell’s studio The Cypress House in south-central Louisiana town of Breaux Bridge. It was mixed by Mixed by Scott Vestal at Digital Underground in Greenbrier, TN. Since it’s release the band debuted on the Grand Ole Opry and the Ryman Auditorium stages bringing their sound to new audiences. The critically acclaimed album debuted at #4 on the Billboard Bluegrass Chart while staying for ten weeks on the Americana Music Association’s radio chart’s Top 40.
No Depression’s Amos Perrine names Town Mountain as, “the most exciting bluegrass band to come along in a long time,” which is echoed by Music City Roots’ Craig Havighurst’s sentiments, “I’d put Town Mountain on my list of Five Bluegrass Bands You Must Know in 2016, because while the genre has forked and morphed in wonderful ways, these guys from Asheville have more Flatt & Scruggs and more Jimmy Martin in their sound than any young band I can think of. And when they do nod to other influences, they tend to be from parallels to the early bluegrass era, like Chuck Berry and Carl Perkins for example.”
Up for a 2016 Emerging Artist Award with IBMA and 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. With an insatiable musical hunger, the members of Town Mountain are Robert Greer on vocals and guitar, Jesse Langlais on banjo and vocals, Phil Barker on mandolin and vocals, Jack Devereux on fiddle, and Adam Chaffins on bass. Please note Bobby Britt (fiddle) and Nick DiSebastian (bass) perform on the album.
The album 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. Each of Town Mountain’s members contributed songs to Southern Crescent, with Barker, Langlais, and Greer the chief writers in the band.
Raleigh News & Observer calls Southern Crescent “hard-charging, grits-and-gravy authentic, the kind of emotions on the strings of Bill Monroe and Flatts and Scruggs pioneered more than 60 years ago… Town Mountain honors the Ancients while bringing a collective and generational identity to their art.”
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.
“Town Mountain holds its own against all comers when it comes to producing a powerhouse bluegrass drive grown from deep roots.” Bluegrass Unlimited goes on to write, “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.”
The band has been making rounds at notable festivals this season, having appeared at Pickathon in Oregon, IBMA’s Wide Open Bluegrass in Raleigh, Nelsonville Music Festival in Ohio, ROMP and Festival of the Bluegrass in Kentucky, Three Rivers Arts Festival in Pittsburgh, Denver Beer Co.’s Sundrenched Music Festival, Rooster Walk in Virginia, Nelsonville Music Festival in Ohio, among others.
Walter Tunis with Lexington Herald Ledger notes, “The ascension of Town Mountain as one of the festival’s [Festival of Bluegrass 2016] premiere acts was demonstrated in a set that emphasized the North Carolina’s quintet’s obvious strengths – specifically, a rugged ensemble charge (showcased at once during the show opening Tick on a Dog), ample stylistic dexterity (the honky tonk drive of Whiskey With Tears) and individual firepower (Greer’s joyous vocals, Phil Barker’s quick-witted mandolin picking).
“The past echoes through Town Mountain, clear through to the future,” says Railroad Earth’s Tim Carbone. “To bluegrass fans I’d say the genre is in good hands. But you will dig the rough edges too! They’re a shot of 100 proof bluegrass with a honky-tonk chaser!” Carbone is part of the partnership of the new LoHi Records, of which Southern Crescent is the first album in their catalog. Based in Greensboro, NC, the label also includes singer/songwriter and record producer Todd Snider, Hard Working American’s Chad Staehly, who is also with Gold Mountain Entertainment in Nashville, and entrepreneur and marketing veteran Jim Brooks.
Watch Town Mountain on WOUB’s Gladden House Sessions from thw Nelsonville Music Festival → http://woub.org/2016/06/24/2016-gladden-house-sessions-town-mountain/
Watch Town Mountain perform ‘Comin’ Back to You’ on The Bluegrass Situation’s Sitch Sessions → https://youtu.be/Ut4w6uJbAlo
More kind words about Town Mountain and Southern Crescent:
“Southern Crescent is seductive, mixing outstanding playing with a range of vocal styles. Many of the vocals mine the high-lonesome vein of a band like the Osborne Brothers or The Gibson Brothers. But, there is an earthiness to the vocals, which convey heart, without invoking pathos.” —Country Standard Time, Fred Smith
“‘Ain’t Gonna Worry Me’ has a Chris Stapleton and Steeldrivers soulful/gritty vibe to it, and damn it’s as good if not better. A short fuse of fiddles lights up ‘Comin’ Back To You,’ exploding it into the hillbilly side of the Sun, and Jerry Lee Lewis-style rock ‘n’ roll heaven.” —Tahoe Onstage, Tom Clark
“Further listening reveals Southern Crescent, as a dissection of string music, a cross examination of the history of rural American music that has existed up and down the Eastern Seaboard and Appalachia, a mix of old time, country and early Cajun music all falling under the bluegrass umbrella of craft musicianship and raw lyrical emotion.” –Bryant Liggett, DGO Magazine, KDUR station manager
“Recorded live in the studio, the album’s vibe sounds natural and loose, while the musicianship remains tight and precise. Banjo, mandolin and fiddle float through the songs, interlocking rhythmically and melodically, while the shared vocal duties reflect past greats like Del McCoury. This is bluegrass done right from a band that’s still beneath the average listener’s radar.” —The Barn (Chicago)
“Southern Crescent (LoHi Records) by Town Mountain is fast-faster-fastest bluegrass that takes full advantage of the genre’s history but adds a honky-tonk chaser, a jam-band aesthetic and the kind of stringed chops you’d expect from Alison Krauss, Earl Scruggs or Ralph Stanley.” –Aquarian Weekly’s Rant N Roll, Mike Greenblatt
“The convergence of freewheeling harmonies, and their picking, plucking and strumming lends itself to both passion and purpose. With bluegrass reclaiming its populist precepts of late, Southern Crescent boasts all the needed elements to provide their listeners one heck of a hootenanny.” —Elmore Magazine, Lee Zimmerman
“I didn’t really think that Boston was a bluegrass kind of town but damn if Town Mountain didn’t just prove me wrong. They passed through town a few weeks ago and filled the room with a joyful noise, not to mention a jubilant crowd.” —Twangville, Mayer Danzig
“Asheville’s Town Mountain is one of the most entertaining bluegrass / string band groups working today and their Southern Crescent features the band at the top of their game. Their originals are true to the spirit of bluegrass. But at the same time they aren’t that wall-of-sound-loud-as-you-can-get bluegrass either. Their music keeps the vocals at the center and they know how to tell stories in song. It makes their sound more human, more real, more heartfelt than you get from a lot of other bands in the genre. Even if you think bluegrass isn’t for you, you owe it to yourself to give Town Mountain’s Southern Crescent a try.” —Americana Music Show, Calvin Powers
“Bluegrass is easily the most active genre in 2016 as changes and traditions draw lines in the sound. Town Mountain have an ability for presenting the past and the future in an easy playing the blends without breaking.” —Danny McCloskey, The Alternate Root
“On Southern Crescent, there’s little fuss and pretension, as each track has a lived-in and live feel, with the band members coalescing around the song in an almost preordained way. There is as much outlaw country and Western swing to these songs as bluegrass, despite the instrumentation. As traditional and even-keeled as Town Mountain is, no other band sounds quite the same.” —Mountain Xpress, Kyle Petersen
“Travel, distance, loneliness and love – Town Mountain illuminates them all with a passion and raw energy that makes Southern Crescent an oh so satisfying listen that you’ll return to again and again.” —The Daily Country, Tara Joan
“The standout, though, is ‘Wildbird,’ a classic highway song about curing a restless mind with road miles; perfect for a bluegrass band that sounds pretty comfortable getting outside of its comfort zone.” —Blue Ridge Outdoors, Jedd Ferris
“There’s a new level of diversity in sounds and styles, which is to say that the honky-tonk flavor that’s long been the quintet’s stock-in-trade is being supplemented with more lyrically and musically sophisticated material that nevertheless keeps the energy high.” —The Nashville Scene, Jon Weisberger
“The first time I heard TM 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.” –Jim Lauderdale
“The past echoes through Town Mountain, clear through to the future. To bluegrass fans I’d say the genre is in good hands. But you will dig the rough edges too! They’re a shot of 100 proof bluegrass with a honky-tonk chaser!” –Tim Carbone (Railroad Earth)