Google Town Mountain and the words “Hard Drivin’ Carolina String Band” stick right out in prideful self-description. That says something.
Take a dip into their page and check a video or two. Trad ‘grass dominates—sharp suits and all in some of them. But these four expert pickers (mandolin, banjo, guitar, and fiddle) were exposed to all kinds of bohemian things growing up in the mountains around Asheville, North Carolina.
Town Mountain is Phil Barker (mandolin and vocals), Robert Greer (guitar and vocals), Jess Langlais (banjo and vocals), Bobby Britt (fiddle) and Adam Chaffins (bass).
How the Grateful Dead permeated those Southeast hills, as they did everywhere else (Jerry Garcia thrived on bluegrass), comes to beautiful fruition through these men on this “The Dead Session” single. First up, “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo,” the fascinating, trippy groove of it ridden with incredible dexterity and Mountain soul by all.
Robert Hunter’s words project just so naturally within bluegrass; always have. “Big River” kicks off stoutly after that, Johnny Cash’s country romp hillbillied up, tall and proud. Cut in celebration of the Dead’s 50th, two songs goes by too fast. I’d urge these gents to get back to the studio to expand on the idea, and these magnificent melodies.
“The Dead Session”