Friday, September 24, 2010
18 South at the Station In
On Thursday night we returned to The Station Inn to see a new band I'd read about but never heard. 18 South is one of those bands that flourish in Nashville composed mostly of successful sidemen who get together to play and find themselves creating a unique sound of their own along the way. Named after an address in Nashville, the band's core is composed of six Nashville veterans, all of whom have had success in a range of genres. In 18 South they have come together for the pure joy of making music. Their sound is a synthesis of blues, southern rock, bluegrass, jazz, and gospel that can best be characterized as pure Americana. The band composes music of their own and finds songs where they can, putting their own spin on each piece. 18 South performs regularly at The Station Inn and has begun accepting dates to appear at festivals. I've posted two videos of their work to highlight some of their power and versatility.
John Randall Stewart
John Randall is a singer/songwriter who's been active in country music and bluegrass for nearly twenty years. He has won a Grammy award as a member of the band in EmmyLou Harris' album "Live at the Ryman" with Sam Bush and Larry Ataminuik, among others. In 18 South he plays acoustic guitar, mandolin, and sings lead and harmony in a clear bluesy voice.
Alexdander's voice is a supple and powerful instrument getting down low in torrid blues song "Guilty" as well as lighting up the stage with her range in a gospel offering and wonderful harmony vocals with many of the other songs in their set list. She was composer of a hit pop single called "The Climb" for Miley Cyrus which led the pop charts for 15 weeks. Jessi grew up in both Memphis and Georgia; her voice shows the strong musical elements of these two somewhat different regions.
"Guilty" Sung by Jessi Alexander with 18 South
Jimmy Wallace on keyboards brings his background in Louisiana to provide New Orleans style piano as well as jazz and blues influenced organ to his singing and songwriting. His song cycle based on the characters in the Peanuts comic strip called "Don't Take My Blanket" is an amusing musical romp. "Winds of the World" is a don't miss reflection on our times.
We had first seen Guthrie Trapp playing guitar with Jerry Douglas on tour in Lebanon, NH a couple of years ago. He was impressive then, and Douglas allowed him to shine. With 18 South he shines without permission, bringing enormous versatility to each of the several electric instruments he plays. Trapp pulls sounds from his guitars I never knew were in there. He's a master of the instrument.
Larry is a particularly subtle drummer as is required of a percussionist who often plays in the supposedly drum-free environment of bluegrass bands. While, along with Mike Bub, providing the requisite solid beat necessary for the band, he nevertheless doesn't intrude his sound by overwhelming the band. He's played with Sam Bush, Alison Krauss, and has a regular gig with the Alison Brown Quintet.
Early in my bluegrass education, Mike Bub was kind to me and taught me a lot, taking time to answer a range of questions in my mind that may have sounded silly to him but which he took seriously and answered thoroughly. Since then, both Irene and I have always looked forward to seeing him play with bluegrass bands like Dale Ann Bradley and Tim O'Brien. He has toured with Vince Gill, Peter Rowan, and Tony Rice among others and won the IBMA Bass Player of the Year five times. I wish I had a more animated picture than the one I've posted, because I never saw a bass player having a better time or showing it more than Bub last night with 18 South. He's also their booking agent.
Chris Ham and Chris West
18 South "Dance All Night - Stay a Little Longer"
18 South is a delightful band that plays a range of music that, put together, can best be characterized as pure Americana. One of the joys of watching them is the obvious delight they take in playing with each other. Check their upcoming dates and ask for them at your local Americana music festival. Meanwhile, see them at The Station Inn whenever they're scheduled there.