Track Premiere: Sixteen Tons from Backline

Mountain Fever Records has a new single dropping tomorrow for South Carolina’s Backline, a grassed up version of the old Tennessee Ernie Ford hit, Sixteen Tons. Written by Merle Travis in 1947, it has the distinction of being among the most covered songs in the traditional country music canon.

Typically sung by a bass vocalist, a la Ford’s 1955 hit and a later Johnny Cash version, here it is delivered by Backline’s primary lead singer, Katelyn Ingardia. She gives the song a distinct bluesy feel, supported by call-and-answer background harmonies from the guys. Travis Tucker is on reso-guitar, Zachary Carter on banjo, Milom Williams on mandolin, Clint White on fiddle, and Chris Williamson on bass. Ingardia plays guitar.

Tucker says that their arrangement has been in the repertoire for a while.

Sixteen Tons is the first cover that we have decided to release as a radio single. We’ve been performing Sixteen Tons at our live shows since August of 2019. It has consistently been one of our most requested songs, and the one that we are most frequently asked if we have on an album. We hope that our radio listeners love this song as much as our live listeners, and that you enjoy our rendition of this old American classic made popular by Tennessee Ernie Ford.”

Have a listen.

Sixteen Tons by Backline will be available on August 31 wherever you stream or download music online. Radio programmers can get the track now via AirPlay Direct.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.