Song review: Hard Working Americans ‘Dope is Dope’

The Hard Working Americans photographed at the Mishawaka Amphitheatre in Bellvue, Colorado on  July 20, 2014©Jay Blakesberg
The Hard Working Americans photographed at the Mishawaka Amphitheatre in Bellvue, Colorado, on July 20, 2014 ©Jay Blakesberg

The quest to produce a style of music that both represents and transcends the American experience is not a new one. The Band on the East Coast, and the Electric Flag on the West, both pursued this throughout the late 1960s and ’70s by sculpting amalgams of folk, blues, jazz and rock.Motown did the same with their factory-esque method of writing, recording and releasing music.

Muscle Shoals’ infusion of gospel and soul into rock-based instrumentation could also be seen as an attempt to bridge two sides of the same country. The groundwork laid by these pioneers is being continued today. The Black Crowes and the Alabama Shakes have even taken this melting pot of music to chart-topping heights and helped popularize tag words like roots-rock or Americana.

Hard Working Americans photo by Tobin Voggesser.
Hard Working Americans, photo by Tobin Voggesser.

Todd Snider’s new supergroup Hard Working Americans is building on this tradition and expanding it into the jam-band world it helped create. With the release of its new single “Dope Is Dope,” Hard Working Americans combines Snider’s well-worn vocals with delightfully swampy keyboards, gut-bucket drumming and unpretentious lyrics.

The group features Dave Schools of Widespread Panic on bass; Neil Casal of Chris Robinson Brotherhood on guitar and vocals; Chad Staehly of Great American Taxi on keys; and Duane Trucks, who Snider calls “the star of their last album” from Col. Bruce Hampton’s School of Music on drums.

“Dope is dope and you’re high up on it” Snider repeats during the chorus over church-like backing vocals, lo-fi hand claps and Trucks’ drums that lean on the back of the beat. The nature of the chorus is indicative of the all-inclusive everyman songwriting for which Snider has become known. His voice is a little less gritty than Joe Cocker’s, but a touch more present than Mike Mattison’s, and blends terrifically with the warm tones of the instruments.

Staehly combines piano and clavinet to open the song, which blends the traditional and soulful/funky elements that have helped define Americana music and the jam band scene in recent years. Casal’s guitar playing throughout is appropriate, he relies on his sense of taste and command of tone rather than his chops to add to the tune; even during his solo he allows the song to breathe and the band to cook as opposed to smothering every bit of space with a lick or two. His playing is the mark of a true musician.

“Dope Is Dope” is a singable, funky single that is not only an indication of the band’s future, but a tip-of-the-hat to American music’s forebears.

To purchase, click HERE

Related story: Neal Casal oversees recordings for “Dead elevator music” LINK

Hard Working Americans 2015 Summer Tour

8/13 – Richmond, VA – The National %
8/14 – Scranton, PA – The Peach Music Festival
8/15 – Wellston, MI – Hoxeyville Music Festival
8/16 – Columbus, OH – Park Street Saloon #
8/18 – Raleigh, NC – Lincoln Theatre @
8/19 – Wilmington, NC – Greenfield Lake Amphitheater @
8/20 – Athens, GA – Georgia Theatre **
8/21 – Asheville, NC – New Mountain Amphitheater **
8/22 – Chattanooga, TN – Southern Brewers Festival
8/23 – Birmingham, AL – Iron City **
8/25 – St. Louis, MO – Old Rock House #
8/26 – Fayetteville, AR – George’s Majestic Lounge @
8/27 – Tulsa, OK – Cain’s Ballroom @
8/28 – Kansas City, MO – The Madrid Theatre @
8/29 – Nederland, CO – NedFest
8/30 – Durango, CO – Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College

% with Aquarium Rescue Unit
# with The Steepwater Band
@ with Turbo Fruits
** with Elizabeth Cook

 

ABOUT Spencer Kilpatrick

Spencer Kilpatrick
Author Spencer Kilpatrick is a part-time writer and full-time ding-dong. He is currently scurrying around Big Water, Utah.

LEAVE A REPLY

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

@FOLLOW ME

Twitter feed is not available at the moment.

SEARCH TAHOE ONSTAGE

Search

EVENTS CALENDAR

Calendar of Events

S Sun

M Mon

T Tue

W Wed

T Thu

F Fri

S Sat

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,