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There are two kinds of bluegrass bands. One kind you might recognize: they’re the type to wear matching vests--standing straight and playing straighter, plucking and pawing with flawless, rehearsed precision, the traditional tunes of the accepted cannon. They’re talented--maybe--polished--surely--but, above all else, they are clean. They are expected.
The Bloodroots Barter is not that kind of bluegrass band.
As their devastatingly poetic band bio states, their sound is “bluegrass the way it’s played when nobody’s looking. It’s dirty and desperate, the music that comes out of hollers that don’t see much sun.”
You won’t hear “Wayfaring Stranger” at a Bloodroots Barter show--or you might, but not in a way you’ve ever heard it before. There’ll be an edge to it--a shadow--and it might not be tangible, but you’ll feel it in your bones, where the music itself comes from.
The Bloodroots Barter is made up of Casey Papendieck, Tyler Emery, Laura Gregory and Ishi Wooton--a quartet of multi-instrumentalists that each bring a different set of skills to their collaborative songwriting process.
“We take from bluegrass and traditional music in the sense that we’re inspired by it,” said Gregory, “but in terms of our sound, we just kind of do what feels right.”
As proud as they are of their bluegrass influences, they’re even prouder of the fact that they don’t claim any one genre as their own.
“We don’t even really consider what we do bluegrass,” explained Gregory. “We call it wild mountain music.”
"Wild mountain music" is a good way of describing what you’ll hear should you choose to make your way to Jackie O’s on Thursday. The Bloodroots Barter will be stopping by--as will their friends Rumpke Mt. Boys and the Tillers.
The bands have all played together before and retain good relationships--going so far as to make it onto each others' iPods.
“We listen to the Tillers a lot, honestly,” said Gregory. “We love them.”
The Tillers are recovered punk rockers turned folkies who hail originally from Cincinnati. While their harmonious and melodic tunes now lean more in the direction of Woody Guthrie rather than Johnny Rotten, their sound still manages to retain some of that punk grit leftover from their bygone days of teenage rebellion. The Rumpke Mt. Boys--self-proclaimed “trashgrass”--should compliment them perfectly.
When asked how The Bloodroots Barter felt about coming back through Athens, Gregory answered without hesitation, “The whole place is so inspiring--the people, the art, everything--and I’m so excited to be back. I think we all are.” She went on to add, “Athens folks are the right kind of folks.”
The Bloodroots Barter, Rumpke Mt. Boys and the Tillers will play Jackie O’s Thursday, October 27. The music will begin around 10 p.m.
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