“Jimmy Martin, Hank Williams, and the Ramones had a baby. And its name is Town Mountain.” Mitch Fairfield, Charleston Music Review
Imagine the band that occupies the common ground between traditional bluegrass, outlaw country, and pure old time mountain music. A group that harnesses the frantic energy of the modern punk string band, yet still remains respectfully rooted in the tradition of Bill Monroe. Imagine a band with one foot proudly planted in the path of traditional bluegrass, and one foot stepping out into the unknown forefront of American string music.
This is Town Mountain, the exciting new sound from Asheville, NC. Born out of the all night jam sessions and fertile picking scene of Western North Carolina, Town Mountain has emerged as one of the premiere young American bluegrass bands. Great original, tight vocal harmonies, a charismatic stage presence, and instrumental expertise place this group in the upper tier of contemporary acoustic bands. But, in the end, despite these qualities, it’s always the undeniable, irresistible energy of a live Town Mountain show that truly sets this group apart.
This unique energy has had Town Mountain winning over audiences in theatres, clubs, house concerts, and festivals across the country for almost three years now, from Oregon to Maine to California and back home to Carolina. It all started in 2005, when the guys decided to take their homegrown sound on its first national tour. That summer was spent swaggering across the country, sharing their music in smoky bars and hometown honkytonks nightly. The tour ended with a bang in Colorado, where Town Mountain joined the ranks of Steep Canyon Rangers, Chatham County Line and Yonder Mountain String Band by winning the prestigious Rockygrass Band Competition. The tour and the win kicked the Town Mountain experience into high gear, establishing the group as a force among American string bands, and as a live show that is not to be missed.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what it is that gives Town Mountain its unique, contagious energy. It could be the visual performance that accompanies their great music. The guys bob and weave around each other, to and from the microphones, in order to facilitate their surprisingly sophisticated vocal and instrumental arrangements. The result is a natural choreography, an exciting visual performance that makes the band almost as fun to watch as it is to listen to.
Almost. Town Mountain is monumentally fun to listen to. This is the hard-driving, no nonsense, slammin’ bluegrass that makes you whoop and holler and stomp your feet. Yet it’s mixed with just enough slow country crooning to keep it balanced. Just enough outlaw swagger to give it a honkytonk edge. Just enough contemporary, alt-whatever elements to make it equally appealing to non-bluegrass fans. And it’s mostly original music. Robert Greer, Jesse Langlais, and Phil Barker have all proven themselves to be prominent American songwriters worth keeping an eye on. Their contributions are showcased in the ever-changing set lists that make up the ever-growing Town Mountain song catalog. At any given show, you’ll see the band move fluidly from the pounding rhythm of Jesse’s “Shame on You”, to the sweet harmonies of “Whiskey With Tears” (an original country ballad that would make George Jones proud), to a surprising cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire”, then back to the pounding with Phil’s politically charged “Ruination Line.” The variety offered, and the energy with which it’s executed has audiences consistently cheering for more. In fact, it’s not uncommon to hear new fans claiming that they didn’t know they liked bluegrass until they heard Town Mountain.
Go see this band. Buy their music. Get carried away with what they do. Come out and enjoy a group that is standing firmly on the shoulders of Jimmy Martin, Bill Monroe, and Hank Williams, yet still manages to bring a unique, irresistibly infectious energy that rivals that of any modern rock and roll band.
This is Town Mountain music..... now put your boots on.