Whiskey Gentry crossing boundaries

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 9:13 AM

Linda East Brady

The Whiskey Gentry

“Holly Grove”

The Atlanta, Ga.-based Americana band, The Whiskey Gentry, took their name from gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, a name he had for those who frequent the Kentucky Derby: “(a) pretentious mix of booze, failed dreams and a terminal identity crisis.”

The name and the description suited lead singer/guitarist Lauren Staley well enough that she jotted it down a few years ago, next to the describer “next band name.”

The Staley band that finally bore the name might have come along out West in the ’80s when the cow punk, Celtic rockers, new grass boys and alt country guys were mixing it up in Los Angeles.

“Holly Grove” is the band’s sophomore effort. Of the 11 songs on the CD, eight are credited to the band as a whole, a group that also includes Staley’s husband Jason Morrow on lead guitar/piano/organ/vocals; Chesley Lowe on banjo; Rurik Nunam on fiddle/vocals; Price Cannon on drums; Sam Griffin on bass, and Michael Smith on mandolin/vocals.

The album includes a wide mix of styles and subjects. Some are Southern Gothic in subject matter. Take the quick-pickin’ twist on the traditional murder ballad, “Colly Davis.” The title character is pursued like a fox by the hounds of the kin of the girl he killed, just under the nose of the law. The banjo-driven title cut, deceptively bouncy, haunts with lyrics about a child abduction as seen through they eyes of a playmate.

The best might be the album opener, “I Ain’t Nothin,’?” served up in classic country two-step style. It’s about a lonesome gal parked in her pickup, missin’ the one that got away:“And now I’m sitting here parked on the side of the road/with a full tank of gas and nowhere to go/And I’m shaking from my fingers to the ends of my toes over you ...” Boy howdy, that’s a song to miss your baby by!

The band also does justice to the covers it chooses, especially Peter Rowan’s classic “Lonesome L.A. Cowboy,” an homage to the ’70s California cosmic cowboy scene that’s been long overdue for a redo.

This one will please the alt country crowd for certain, but for fans of new-grass and old West Coast punk, in the style of X and The Knitters, this will be a tasty discovery as well. Keep an ear on The Whiskey Gentry — they have the stuff it takes to cross radio charts and musical boundaries.

LISTEN TO: Holly Grove

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