“Twenty thousand roads I went down, down, down and they all led me straight back home to
you,” Leslie Bosson sings on The Running Kind’s cover of The Return of the Grievous Angel,
which appears toward the end of their newest recording, The Girl For All The World. Gram
Parson’s classic country rumination on the many paths to home is a natural for a band that has
come together from so many diverse musical routes.
Matt and Leslie did share other roots, though. Friends, but not sweethearts, the two grew up
together in the rural western Massachusetts town of Williamstown. Though they sang in the
Mt. Greylock Regional High School choir together, Leslie’s the first to admit that performing
really wasn’t on her radar yet. “While we both hung out in the same circle, Matt was the one
who went out for all the solos and leads in the high school musicals,” says Leslie. “The mere
thought of uttering a single note without eighty of my closest symphonic classmates joining
me… well let’s just not go there.” After high school graduation, Leslie and Matt went their
separate ways. But while Leslie hung up her choir robes and didn’t look back, Matt kept music,
and songwriting, at the center of his life – playing in punk bands (Beatrice) in college and later
in alt rock outfits (Lonesome Pie) in his adopted home of Los Angeles.
It wasn’t until some years later after these high school friends had reunited, fallen in love and
married that they discovered the musical connection they shared. It was at a good friend’s
annual talent show/birthday party that they found the core sound of what would soon become
The Running Kind. “Leslie wanted to sing one of those early Patsy tunes, Who Can I Count On?”
recalls Matt. “She had never done that before, sung solo in front of people, but she sounded
great and wanted to try. So I backed her up on guitar and harmonized a little… and that’s how
Borrowing their name from the Merle Haggard tune, the Bossons formed The Running Kind into
a band that is the sonic sum of many musical parts. Leslie studies classical voice and opera. An
odd mix of styles, country and opera, she admits, “but the two genres are not really that far
apart. You get to tell great stories with a strong vocal line.” And Matt adapted his rock-song
style of writing and downshifted it a little – challenging himself to write in a feminine voice
while drawing his thematic inspiration from the music of Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Neil
Young and certainly, Haggard. Matt explains, “I like the theme in Merle’s tune, ‘I was born the
running kind, with leaving always on my mind.’ That poetic notion of the rootless drifter, alone
and loved-starved and always trying but never able to really connect; it’s the core idea in so
many great songs, certainly most country music.”
To fill out The Running Kind, the Bossons have gathered an equally eclectic group of musicians
that includes George Alexander, who plays his Telecaster with such power on original songs like
“Old Girl” that it’s not surprising to find out this country picker also has a heavy rocker side.
“He’s half James Burton, half Jimi Hendrix,” says Matt. “But he’s got a signature style that’s all
his own.” The drums and percussion of musician/producer Mitsuru “Neil” Fukasawa, as well as
Frank San Filippo (from LA’s Ghost Town) on bass form a rock-steady rhythm section. “We like
to play some traditional country numbers, but we also like to rock,” says Matt. “We’re always
trying to make music that’s a little more expansive, arrangement-wise.” Stretching their sound
has meant adding keyboardist Kevin Smith to the lineup, whom Matt credits with lending a
lyrical quality to the band that nicely counters George’s take-no-prisoner leads. While the
blend of Leslie’s and Matt’s voices has been compared to other duos like Johnny and June, John
Doe and Exene, or Richard and Linda Thompson, their unique sound sets The Running Kind
apart from those pioneers along a track all its own.
Together, The Running Kind has become a favorite in the Los Angeles alt-country music scene,
playing regularly at The Cinema Bar in Culver City, the Ranch Party at The Original Farmer’s
Market, the Grand Ole Echo, and Ronnie Mack’s Barndance. Their haunting rendition of the
Delmore Brother’s “Gonna Lay Down My Old Guitar” was enjoyed by listeners across LA on
Chris Morris’ “Watusi Radio” show on Indie 103.1. And in 2008, country music fans made the
monthly trip out to Burbank to hear the Running Kind’s residency at Viva Cantina.
The Running Kind shows no signs of slowing with their new release, The Girl For All The World.
This 10-song collection of original Bosson tunes and a couple of classic covers demonstrates
what’s best about Americana music today. It’s a potent mix of tradition and innovation that
comes together in a ways both fresh and familiar. The Bossons’ harmony on the track “Two
Roads” might express their musical convergence best:
“Will you remind me of where we’ve been and where we are? With you beside me, we’ll sing a
song and play guitar….”
THE RUNNING KIND/Girl for all the World: Bubbling under SoCal
alt.country crew that seems more like a throw back to the golden
era of country rock than they do for what passes as classic Chicago
alt.country or insurgent Nashville country. Deliciously right in the
pocket, this sounds like a side project Emmylou Harris would have
produced when Warners was giving her the freedom to do so. Super
tasty genre set that hits all the high spots needed to make this a
real winner. Check it out. --Midwest Record
Everything your parents don't want you to get into as a teenager the
Bossons capture on The Running Kind's "The Girl For All the World". That's what
you hear. Everything you love about the night, about love and desire, sex and
retribution, all those sides of us The Running Kind calls up.
--John Shelton Ivany -- Top21
I always scan a CD's song titles to get an idea what's what. Poring over the roster for The Girl for All the World, I noted The Running Kind's cover of Gram Parson's Return of the Grievous Angel and thought "Uh-oh, this one's gonna be trouble!", and, sure enough, it is. Not because it isn't good, it is, but because the album is so steeped in true country as a baseline, and I've always had difficulties with that genre. However, listening to Parsons years ago—not an easy task—I began to cultivate an appreciation for how difficult the task was to modernize the form while remaining true to its essence and heart.
That's what The Running Kind is doing. This, folks, is country and there's no missing the fact, no bones about it. As far as my non-boot-scootin' rear end can tell, the group is picking up where Gram left off. While listening to The Girl for all the World, I kept peering over my shoulder, expecting some drunken redneck to say something snarky and throw a swozzled punch. Wasn't gonna happen—I was in my own home, after all—but that's how thick the atmosphere is here. Two Roads, just as one example, is prime 100% modern goat ropin', terbacky chawin', tequila guzzlin' material, heaped up with salted peanuts, sawdust, and leather saddles.
Leslie Bosson sings in a voice lacking tremolo that nonetheless zeros in on everything looked for in this field: high, sweet, clear, and feminine. The band is tight and pure-dee prairie with John Groover McDuffie tossing a seductive pedal steel in on half the cuts. Seemed Like a Good Idea is a good ol' boy exercise in folky harmony vocals and light spiritedness, humorous in trailer park fashion. Oddly enough, while one might expect Texas residency, The Running Kind is a favorite band at a local alt-country dive in Culver City, just a few miles down the road from me, and with an ex-punker or two in the ensemble! Man, the things that go on in SoCal.
--Mark S. Tucker for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange