The Kickin Grass Band's The Kickin Grass Band | Record Review | Indy Week
Pin It

The Kickin Grass Band's The Kickin Grass Band 

(Superfan Records)

This third release from Raleigh's Kickin Grass Band isn't the perfect modern bluegrass album (is that legally possible without the name McCoury or Skaggs associated?), but that doesn't seem to be the goal, anyway. For starters, it's not all pure bluegrass. A cover of Roger Miller's "Chug a Lug," sung by bassist Patrick Walsh, is not quite 'grass in the same way that Miller's most popular songs aren't quite country. "Run Away," a stunner about a woman struggling with plans of escape, sidles into Gillian Welch territory. Like most of its companions on The Kickin Grass Band, the song busies itself with showcasing the gliding vocals of Lynda Wittig Dawson and her underrated songwriting rather than genre strictures: "I'm a daughter, and I'm a wife/ I am a keeper of all things nice/ I keep my job, I keep my house/ Keep making music for everyone else/ Look at my feet dancing on the stage/ They want to run away."

These departures should be enough to convert some high & lonesome outsiders, but the remainder of the record takes its aims clearly at insiders: Bookends "Hometown" and "Times Passes" highlight the band at its respective hard-charging and waltzing best. Guest old-time fiddle and clawhammer banjo on the brief instrumental "Oldtime Ramble" give way to a slightly more modern sound on "Rambling Man," while Dawson and Walsh's swapped vocals on "Cold Frosty Window" (written by Pittsboro's Tommy Edwards of The Bluegrass Experience) reveal yet another way that the band is comfortable putting a song across in bluegrass confines. "Lay Him in the Ground," sung matter-of-factly from the grave, backs up my contention that the best bluegrass songs are often the most chilling.

But the album's most impressive achievement is "The Ghost of Nathaniel Carter." Like a campfire storyteller, Dawson deftly uses vocal inflection to keep you riveted to the tale, and the hopped-up playing that punctuates the chorus whenever it comes 'round spotlights the overlap between bluegrass and Celtic music. The tune's five minutes pass in what seems like half the time, and hiding in the disc's 10 spot, it's the sort of song that sneaks up on you.

The CD release show for The Kickin Grass Band is Saturday, Oct. 11, at Cat's Cradle. Doors open at 8 p.m., and tickets are $10-$12. Sweet By And By opens.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Record Review

Twitter Activity

Most Recent Comments

Love it! All the songs are beautiful!

by Jon Champion on Record Review: The Return of The Veldt, The Shocking Fuzz of Your Electric Fur: The Drake Equation, Is Great (Record Review)

This release will be available Friday December 4th here:

Thanks! …

by Scott Phillips on Review: The electronic excellence of GNØER's Tethers Down (Record Review)

You should have let Currin write this. One of the best singers on earth and these were your observations? sounds …

by Remo on Record review: Jeanne Jolly's A Place to Run (Record Review)


© 2017 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation