North Carolina’s Town Mountain sees their first album with Pinecastle Music, Steady Operator, released today (5/10).
It showcases their decidedly modern take on the bluegrass genre, which doesn’t so much straddle the line between a traditional and progressive approach as it does hop back and forth across it continuously.
Nothing demonstrates this better than how they came to national attention. Six years ago, a group of young bluegrass newbies put together a band in the hills of western North Carolina – one of the primordial ponds from whence the music evolved. That same year, 2005, they made the trek to RockyGrass in Colorado where they won the festival’s highly competitive band competition.
In honor of the new album, we are posting this complete audio stream for two days, along with an interview with Town Mountain mandolin man, Phil Barker.
In addition to Barker, the five piece group features Robert Greer on guitar, Jesse Langlais on banjo, Bobby Britt on fiddle and Jon Stickley on bass. All but Britt share vocal duties in the band.
Town Mountain has largely promoted itself outside the bluegrass market, accentuating the energy of their live show, even describing their music as perfect for people who think they don’t like bluegrass. But what about people who do?
“Well, I don’t think we’ve consciously tried to move beyond bluegrass, maybe just to the side. We just play a little different than what may be considered the contemporary bluegrass sound. We mostly just try to convey the energy and spirit that we feel bluegrass music was meant to have. Maybe a little rough around the edges, but honest and sincere. And while its traditional instrumentation, its original music, written within the band and sung around one mic. I think bluegrass fans can appreciate that.
We were all exposed to the music growing up I think, but none of us have parents that played in groups or anything like that. We all kind of discovered bluegrass and bluegrass shows on our own in our late teens/early twenties and each really tried to immerse ourselves in it and work on our respective instruments. And then, like a lot of folks, we were done.
Bluegrassers for life – for better or worse.”
Phil sees their live endeavors as a give and take.
“We’ve done well with a lot of different types of audiences. Regardless of audience age or concert setting, mainly I think its folks who appreciate original music played with heart and intention. Folks who embrace the energy of a bluegrass show and who aren’t afraid to give a little energy back in return.”
Steady Operator is available now wherever digital downloads or bluegrass CDs are sold.