The sound of the award-winning group Town Mountain can best be described as traditional bluegrass, albeit with a rough-hewn side to it that is not too slick or glossy. They are a band of the here-and-now, yet they have a groove that is based on the bluesy and swinging sounds explored by the first generation of bluegrass pioneers of the last century. With the success of their latest album, Leave The Bottle, the word is out with some of their best reviews yet.
“Thank god that Town Mountain are around to blow a hole in all the genre-juggling games of which music writers like myself are so fond,” said Devon Leger, of Ed Helms’ The Bluegrass Situation. “They play bluegrass. Period. They play it hard, they play it fast, and they play it like their fingers are bleeding and their picks are breaking.”
“Phil Barker’s ‘Lawdog’ sounds like an unearthed classic, and the group’s tight harmonies alone make this record a treat for any bluegrass fan,” said Juli Thanki of Engine 145, the 2011 IBMA Print Media Person of the Year award winner.
David Morris of Bluegrass Today adds more praise, “The songs are new and mostly written by band members, but they sound like they could have come from the exciting early days of bluegrass…..The band sounds the part – tight picking and comfortable harmonies that aren’t overdubbed to soulless perfection. And the songs sound the part, too – murder ballads, endless highways, a nod to bluegrass’ Celtic roots and even a tip of the hat to a moonshiner.”
Riding on the momentum of Leave the Bottle, Town Mountain came away from the 2013 International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) World of Bluegrass convention with a couple of IBMA Momentum Awards in had for “Band of the Year” and lead singer Robert Greer for “Vocalist of the Year”. Town Mountain includes Greer on vocals and guitar, Jesse Langlais on banjo and vocals, Bobby Britt on fiddle, Phil Barker on mandolin and vocals, and Nick DiSebastian on bass. The band plans on recording a new album in 2014.
Town Mountain was formed out of the fertile music scene of Asheville, located in the mountains of western North Carolina. After recording their first two albums, Town Mountain signed with Pinecastle Records label. That led to a pair of acclaimed recordings with 2011’s Steady Operator as well as Leave The Bottle. Both projects were produced by Mike Bub, a recipient of five IBMA Bass Player of the Year awards as well as many other IBMA honors won during his time with the Del McCoury Band.
The members of Town Mountain have thought long and hard about their cultivated roots music groove. The group has focused on the goal of creating a unique sound and brand while still giving a nod and a wink to the traditional side of the bluegrass genre.
“I feel like we’re closer to original bluegrass than a lot of bands out there today,” says Langlais. “I listened to a radio show recently that featured Ricky Skaggs and he flat-out said that Bill Monroe influenced rock and roll. He said that folks like Elvis and Carl Perkins and those guys were looking up to Bill Monroe. So, I feel like our band has a lot of that influence as well, of the blues and early rock. If you go back and listen to Monroe pre-Chuck Berry, those are Chuck Berry licks. A lot of music in the 1940s and 50s was so over-lapping. It is easy to put genre labels on it today, 60 years later. But to be honest, it was all so new and it was influencing each other at the same time.”