The Earl Brothers have always been something of a contradiction. They are based in San Francisco, usually the home of more progressive bluegrass, but their music sounds like it was discovered in an old tape canister outside of Ralph Stanley’s home in far southwest Virginia. Plus there are no brothers, and no one in the band is called Earl, though it is the middle name of banjo player and lead vocalist Robert Earl Davis.
You might describe it as minimalist grass, or even primitive bluegrass. But there is nothing negative in that connotation. Davis’ banjo is pure drive, all forward roll, all the time, and nobody can out-lonesome him when it comes to delivering a sad and tragic song of loss or heartbreak.
Their latest single is called Say Goodbye To Dixie, one Robert has written, and it’s plum pitiful. The song’s protagonist has lost his true love and he’s stuck in prison.
Say Goodbye To Dixie is available now from your favorite download and streaming sites online.