Town Mountain

Town Mountain

North Carolina's, Town Mountain, hits the road this spring and summer touring around their fourth album, Leave the Bottle [Pinecastle Records 2012]. Based in Asheville, NC, Town Mountain is Robert Greer on vocals and guitar, Jesse Langlais on banjo and vocals, Phil Barker on mandolin and vocals, Bobby Britt on fiddle, and Jake Hopping on upright bass. One listen to their instantly memorable songs, and it's plain to see why Grammy-winner Mike Bub would align with the group to produce Leave the Bottle as well as their third release Steady Operator [2011].

Leave the Bottle effortlessly covers a wide array of styles in the string band spectrum featuring the stellar in-house songwriting that has become the band's trademark. There's the barroom swagger and honky tonk edge of tracks like "Up the Ladder" and the title track "Leave the Bottle", the Jimmy Martin style bounce and confidence of "Lawdog" and "Lookin' in the Mirror", the Irish flavor of Bobby Britt's "Four Miles", and the laid back John Hartford style groove of "Greenbud on the Flower" among others. But no matter the style, the band's delivery gives every tune a true and honest feel. The album went on to be listed as #6 Best Bluegrass Album of 2012 by Pop Matters, and WNCW listeners voted it #19 in the Top 100 albums of 2012 and #7 in regional bands for the WNC area. In 2012, a Phil Barker original, "Diggin' on the Mountainside", was featured in Putumayo's Presents Bluegrass.

"I'm not sure what the definition of bluegrass would be in words alone, but if that definition was set to music, it would probably sound something like Town Mountain's Leave the Bottle… I could go on," says Bluegrass Today's David Morris, "There are no duds, and no filler songs on this project. But you get the point. This, my friends, is how bluegrass is supposed to sound."

Betse Ellis

Renowned fiddler, Betse Ellis, founding member of Kansas City band The Wilders, is striking out on her own while the band takes a well-deserved break. She's been singing with the fiddle during Wilders shows, taking center stage for solo performances mid-set –Betse now establishes herself as a solo artist. She gathers diverse music and presents it with humor, intensity, and love. She has also convinced many an audience to join her in songs they may have never heard. Above all, Betse connects with the audience while performing "old time/new time" material, drawing from traditional American (mostly Ozark) fiddle tunes, old songs and spirituals, her own tunes and songs, and finally, a dose of what she calls her "personal old-time music". This is the music Betse grew up hearing, and it may draw from avant-garde artists like Talking Heads, punk pioneers The Clash, or even earlier art music composers like Gabriel-Marie.

Two fiddles – one in standard tuning, the other in cross-tuning – and a voice is usually all Betse needs to entertain an audience. Every once in a while, she picks up a tenor guitar, and sometimes, she puts all instruments down to sing a capella. Even all alone on a stage, Betse brings the sound of previous fiddlers, singers, and composers together with her unique, engaging style.



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