Folk Family Revival and Dylan LeBlanc

Folk Family Revival

Mason, Barrett and Lincoln Lankford became fast friends with Caleb Pace when the then pre-teens stood up for him in a squabble at church. If you ask them now, the band is made up of four brothers. A bond that transcends musical barriers formed early in the lives of the brothers long before they'd ever step foot in a recording studio. Not yet old enough to drive and still without a formal band title, the foursome realized in each other a shared love of music, and they quickly began exploring sounds and instrumentation. The band grew as a unit under several names and through varying incarnations of style and lineup. Seemingly the only constant was the four brothers and their love for one another and music.

After several years of experimentation and self-instruction, the chemistry between the players (now in their early twenties) was undeniable, and they found themselves at Red Tree Recording Studios with producer Jeffery Armstreet. Although they were set to put down tracks that took on a more hard rock vibe, Mason, without provocation, shared one of their folksier, country songs. Armstreet immediately recognized the talent at hand, and later sought out their other demos of this unique style.

A couple years later, the Folk Family Revival is debuting their first full-length album, Unfolding, on Magnolia Red. Mason leads the band on vocals and guitar, but also plays harmonica, jaw harp, and a theramin if he ever finds one. Barrett has made the transition from guitar to bass, and Caleb can be found on electric guitar, mandolin, and lap-steel. Lincoln takes on drums and percussion, and the whole band is constantly embracing new instruments and methods.

The band has played live on Houston's Fox26 and KPFT 90.1 in addition to opening for artists like Charlie Robison, Cody Canada & the Departed, Robert Ellis, The Marshall Tucker Band, Rodney Atkins and the Trishas. Their current musical influences are still eclectic and evolving and include The Black Keys, Switchfoot, Hayes Carll, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Ryan Bingham and the Dylans (both Jakob and Bob).

Their inimitable sound has been described as Americana-folk-country music, and yet, it is still developing and changing. Mason spearheads the songwriting, but the relationship and inspiration of every member of the band is evident in the results. While individual players alternate taking the spotlight in certain songs, the performance as a whole would not be what it is without the dedicated collaboration that unites the foursome.

Unfolding, which debuted July 12, 2011, was produced and mixed by Jeffery Armstreet at Red Tree Recording Studio in Magnolia, Texas. The album also features the instrumental prowess of Scott Davis who also produces albums when not on tour playing lead for Hayes Carll. The record was mastered by Grammy-winning engineer Gavin Lurssen.

On Dylan LeBlanc's debut album, Pauper's Field, a lost world is brought to life - both in the carefully sculpted songs and rich well of country soul from which those songs emerge. RoughTrade is excited to release Dylan's album on August 24 th , 2010.

Although the Golden era of Alabama's fabled Muscle Shoals sound had passed by the time Dylan was born in 1990, his ancestral roots and family background connected him to one of the most significant sources in the rich tapestry of American music. His father's position as a Muscle Shoals session player and songwriter meant that early in life Dylan was privy to the sights and sounds of an unvarnished, vanishing epoch and such legends as Spooner Oldham. "I grew up around a lot of the session players…when I was 11 or 12, I would watch and ask a lot of questions, so for me it was like going to music college," is how the tall, gentle voiced, lank haired Shreveport, Louisiana native remembers it. "It seemed like a much simpler world - it was romantic to me the way everyone sat in a circle and "took it from the top". They just played and hit the record button. That's the path I followed when I made this album."

Dylan expands…"for me music is about getting together with a group of people who feel like family - you create a bond, feeding off each other. Just a look or a hand gesture and they know what you're talking about." Dylan's progress was natural, organic - learning the ropes as a young sideman helped define his own worldview and artistry through his teens.

"My first hand influences are all interesting, but I've always been a loner when it comes to music. I had the opportunity to, and did my own thing and whoever wanted to join in was welcome to. I started picking on my 7th birthday when my dad bought me a guitar, and I started writing when I was 11 or 12." Although he dismisses his early songs as "not very good", Dylan's early learning served him well. The songs on this debut are beautifully nurtured, gently astonishing, stop you in your tracks reveries - gilded with strings, smokey organ lines, and keening pedal steel.

Despite his age, Dylan's worn yearning voice already has the mark of aged experience. Neither the feel nor sound of the album, nor the haunted ghost summoning songs he has written, can be faked. "If Time Was For Wasting" seems to be wrenched from the heart of ever-present currents in Deep South life - where the pull of the past is unavoidable. "Admittedly I was drinking a good bit myself, and when I wrote the song I was thinking about an arrogant ignorant man and the woman he was with. It has a lot to do with the culture around here. I pictured a man walking into a room where he lives with an angry wife."

Heritage springs up everywhere on Paupers Field. Ghosts and demons emerge from the mist in compositions featuring archetypal characters such as "Emma Hartley" and "The Outlaw Billy John".

Like much great art, Dylan's work is often rooted in pain and anxiety. "Eccentricity runs in my family, and all the men seem to die very young and all the women live to be very old." His great great-great Grandfather shot a notorious local bandit, and was in turn slain in an ambush. This killing took place in Palestine, Texas in the early 1900s - a time and place which fits right in with the album's sepia mood. "There were concerns when I was growing up about how things might turn out, says Dylan carefully. "I wrote music because it made me feel better. I used to get these feelings that would come over me so strong; I felt I was sinking into darkness, like staring out of a large hole in the ground. It scared me and I struggled daily trying to be content in life. In a lot of ways I still do."

His songs - ominously dark yet tenderly appraising emotions to find light and balm - don't just open up a world and his personal feelings and experience, they provide their creator with a valuable lifeline. "It helps me…I'd be a lot darker if I didn't write and it's almost like playing God writing a song." It's a telling comment from the usually modest and soft-spoken LeBlanc. He is not the sort of performer to shout about his arrival or proclaim his talent from the rooftops. Nonetheless, the seamlessly organic and self- produced Pauper's Field presents a fully formed total artist and this record speaks for itself. LeBlanc's is a voice from the present connected to the past, one sure to outlast passing trends and fads. Soul deep.

"Its funny I never thought anyone would take an interest in what I do, so I had the freedom to sound natural with folks I know and love and trust. Everything was basically recorded live, so when we play it live, it's about trying to give people a little of that same feeling. We mean what we say and do what we feel. I think we did that very well on this record."

Ain't that the truth.

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Folk Family Revival and Dylan LeBlanc with Choctaw Wildfire

Friday, January 31 · Doors 8:00 PM / Show 9:00 PM at Mud & Water