Thursday, October 27, 2005


My review of PossumHaw's Split-rail appeared in Seven Days this week. It's not an album I would normally take time to listen to but I enjoyed it and haven't deleted it off my iPod. It'll be good for a mellow playlist here or there.

Damn, PossumHaw moves fast. I just pulled up their website and they already have a quote from the review up on their home page. They grabbed "an immensely enjoyable debut" from the review. The full paragraph was:

The real question is: Which one of today's bluegrass groups will recast this antique art form into a truly new mold? The Velvet Underground did that for rock and, more recently, Uncle Tupelo did it for country. While split-rail is an immensely enjoyable debut, it doesn't quite amount to a bluegrass revolution. It'll be interesting to see where they take it from here.
I'd love to hear a band take liberties with the roots of bluegrass and give it a modern artistic interpretation. It has great potential and I'm sure someone someday will seize upon it. PossumHaw didn't show that vision on this album but perhaps that isn't their thing; which is fine. I just wanted to use the end of the review as a soapbox to throw it out there as an idea and a challenge to Vermont's bluegrass scene.

I just noticed that PossumHaw didn't link to the full review. Hmmm, I wonder if they aren't happy with it. I doubt it. It's a favorable review. They probably just didn't want to put a link in their site.

The band is having a CD release party on Nov. 3rd at Club Metronome (9:30-11:15).

PossumHaw - Come On In
PossumHaw - Fire of '89
PossumHaw - M. Case

By the way, if you enjoy reading good ass-ripping reviews, check out the jamband smackdown Casey laid on Steve Kimock this week. It's a cornacopia of good lines.


g said...

Thanks for putting those mp3 links in your reviews. It's a good way for me to sample the new music.

I haven't joined the site yet however.

It's so funny that you got a personal taste of the reviewers selective quoting trick. How did you feel when you saw how the words had been plucked out?

Nico said...

I haven't heard of the Kimock fellow, and it sounds like I'm glad I haven't.

Flatlander said...

g, I don't have any problems with PossumHaw pulling out that phrase. It isn't out of context. I do think it's an enjoyable album as the phrase indicates. I just didn't think the album was revolutionary which is a big hurdle.

Sarah said...

Hi Flatlander,
Another thought-provoking post.
About Bluegrass....I listen to The Point a lot (local radio here in MontP/Lebanon/etc) and one of the DJs recently remarked that Nickel Creek had done wonders for Bluegrass with their platinum sales, etc. Would you consider this a Bluegrass revolution or is Nickel Creek too pop/commercial to count? Interested in your view on this.

Nico said...

There've been very few revolutions in bluegrass. Bill Monroe was obviously the grandaddy of them all, but others include:

Earl Scruggs and the "Scruggs-style" banjo playing that has virtually made the older clawhammer style extinct.

Old & In the Way and their traditional (but rebellion infused) bluegrass that popularized bluegrass with the hippies and the rock crowd.

The O Brother Where Art Thou? phenomenon that has brought bluegrass as close to the mainstream as it's probably ever been (at least in a long long time).

Bela Fleck, the New Grass Revival and other practitioners of "newgrass." (Though newgrass is frowned upon by many.)

Nickel Creek has a done a lot for the genre and I like them a lot (Chris Thile is a ninja player), but I wouldn't say they're revolutionary. They're what I call a "musical gateway drug." They are what leads people to the genre as a whole and make them go deeper (I'd say the same of Alison Krauss.)

There are musicians in many different genres (jazz, blues, etc.) like them that open people up to a genre that's new to them. They might popularize and spread it, but not revolutionize it.

That's just the $0.02 from this Alabamian.

Flatlander said...

Sarah, silouan92 is the subject master for bluegrass. In fact, he turned me onto the new revival of bluegrass.

The one thing I would add to his post is that bands that create a new revolutionary direction for music generally aren't commercially successful. The Velvet Underground and Uncle Tupelo didn't sell many albums in their day. The joke is that everyone that bought one of their albums went ahead and started a band. More inspirational than big sellers.