The Earl Brothers’ new brew

Folks, it’s official, the amazing Earl Brothers’ brand-spankin’ new CD is here – and it’s as fresh and new as the last two releases. This time ’round, Mr. Bobby Earl Davis steps up to the mic and takes over lead. Although the great John McKelvy will be missed, Davis’ songs, voice, and banjo pickin’ is just as dark and spooky as McKelvy’s.

Davis has always been the primary songwriter for the Earl Brothers, on Moonshine (Big Hen Music 2008) his ink is on 10 of the 12 songs. Taking over for Mckely on guitar is Danny Hughes. If you are one of the deprived souls who have never seen the Earl Brothers, well, you will not even know McKelvy left the band. Morris’ tenor vocals are just as impressive as Mckelvy’s, and his guitar pickin’ is straight up old time hillbilly.

The Earl Brothers are one of those bands you simply can not label. Their sound is all over the place – bluegrass, honky-tonk, gothic-grass, hillbilly. I myself have a tough time filing their CDs on the shelf at my record store in San Francisco (The Music Store, 66 West Portal). Sometimes I put them into bluegrass, other times into country, and every once in a blue moon I stick them into my Alt-Country/Roots Rock section…it confuses the hell out of my customers.

Based in San Francisco, this relentless touring band kicks off the release of Moonshine with a CD release party on May 3 at Cafe du Nord (2170 Market St.) in their hometown (…San Francisco). Then the boys in black take their black suits, old rusty guitar, beaten to death mandolin, big giant bass fiddle, and their slick and shinny banjo on the road – to a night club, concert hall and/or parking lot near you. First off is Knoxville Visitor’s Center (Knoxville, TN) on June 18, then Tin Roof (Charleston, SC) on June 19, The Down Home (Johnson City, TN) on June 20, The Shed (Maryville, TN) on June 21, The Urban Lounge (Salt Lake City, UT) on June 28, and then back to the San Francisco Bay Area for Twang Caf?© (Epic Arts, 1923 Ashby, Berkeley, CA). Twang Caf?© is a first Sunday Americana music series hosted by yours truly (

Expect plenty of Moonshine music on your local radio in the next several months, and more live ‘shine in your town. Check out for more great stuff.

-Shelby Ash

Shelby Ash Presents and The Music Store (San Francisco)