Jeremy Darrow "On The Road" with "Time To Go"
Jeremy Darrow “On The Road” with “Time To Go“ • This past weekend I was doing sideman duty, along with fiddler Shad Cobb and banjo player Josh McMurray. We were out with The Jeff & Vida Band, a great group based out of Nashville. Jeff and Vida often work as a duo, but they occasionally take a band with them. Even though I had played with the band only two weeks prior, I spent time at home earlier in the week brushing up on some of the new tunes that we’ve been playing to make sure that I was ready to go. Rehearsal time with the band is always at a premium, and in order to make sure that it doesn’t become personal practice time, I try to stay on top of new material and keep the rust off of the tunes and songs that I’m already familiar with. Inevitably, any group will wind up running over a new song or arrangement in the hotel room, the green room or even at sound check. If I make sure that I’ve done my homework, it makes it much less stressful for me, and probably everyone else too.
Friday night we played in one of my all-time favorite rooms, The Livery Brew Pub in Benton Harbor, Michigan. I’m a fan of craft-brewed beer, and proprietor Steve Berthel is certainly one of the best brewers in the country, and maybe the world. He takes his craft very seriously and has a lot of fun doing it. It’s always a treat to listen to him talk about beers that he has made, and that he has tasted. He has a broad palette, deep insight and his beer is delicious. Talking to Steve talk about beer is really no different from talking to a great musician about music. Saturday brought us to Grounds for Thought Cafe & Bookstore in Bowling Green, Ohio. The whole band spent a lot of time there enjoying the house-roasted coffee and searching for books. I think each of us took something home. Owner Kelly Wicks and company took great care of us, and we had a blast playing at a really special place.
Time on the road means quality time with my headphones and for a few months I’ve been listening to a pre-release copy of Time to go from Vermont artist Erin McDermott. I had the chance to play a show with Erin several weeks ago while she was visiting Nashville. The show was fun and the whole band sounded great on just one short rehearsal. Before I go any further, since I’m pretending to be a journalist, I should mention that Erin and her producer Brent Truitt are good friends of mine and I was able to play a small role in putting them in touch with each other. There, full-disclosure requirements satisfied.
The lineup of musicians on Time to go is superior, including Bryan Sutton, Tim O’Brien, Stuart Duncan, Byron House, Randy Kohrs, Paul Franklin, Scott Vestal, John Gardner and Brent Truitt. Vermonter Matt Schrag, from Erin’s touring band, came to Nashville for a guest mandolin appearance on the title cut. His contribution to the record should put him in your radar if he’s not there already. Players of this caliber and a producer of Truitt’s skill will make any record sound great, even if there is little to work with in the way of material or singing chops from the artist. In this case, however, Erin’s songwriting and singing is equal in every way to the musicians who appear on Time to go. In my mind, McDermott is a singer-songwriter of the highest order. She takes her craft seriously and is unafraid to dig deep to present nuanced stories and characters. As a result, each song on Time to go stands out beautifully in its own way. Every one is rich enough to enjoy on its own, or as part of the whole record. Each person you meet during the course of Time to go has a real story to tell you in their own words. It’s all Erin’s voice, but her characters breathe on their own, drawing you along from one end of this record to the other.
Because the song selection and sequence are so strong, I’m reluctant to discuss any track individually. I will say that, as of right now, my two favorite cuts are the lead-off track Going Home and track number 10, Weeping Willow. It’s worth mentioning that I usually find later tracks on records to be weaker, buried at the back so to speak, but the strength of this collection of songs allows the sequence to progress steadily without so much as a hiccup.
Great stories thrive in the hands of great storytellers and Time to go is a perfect example of this effect. Erin is a terrific technical signer as well as a compelling one, and performing with her is like attending a vocal workshop. She produces a huge tone, her ornaments and flourishes are unique and well-placed without a trace of contrivance. All of this is well-represented on the record, a hallmark of the work of a highly skilled touch behind the scenes. Producer Brent Truitt has done a masterful job bringing Time to go to life. His clear vision and steady hand are evident, as is his fine mandolin playing. Brent is a great lead player, but he is one of THE great complimentary players. His ideas go well past the usual chopping and backup playing to become textural elements of each track. I’ve been enjoying Time to go immensely. Now that it has been released everyone else can enjoy it too.
FaceBook • http://on.fb.me/lVEjBb
WebSite • www.erinmcdermott.net
Mailing List • www.reverbnation.com/erinmcdermottvt
Time To Go • CLICK HERE To Order “Time To Go” by Erin McDermott
Meet Erin McDermott before the gig, with a Guinness in her hand and a self-effacing wit at the ready, and you’d never suspect the transformation that’s about to take place. But when she sets down her pint and steps onto stage, pay attention. A spruce-topped six string launches into a steam-driving rhythm and her voice rises, gaining power and soaring to a pure quavering vulnerability that makes even the club regulars, the ones who’ve heard it all, stop talking and really listen.
And why not? It’s more than the alt-folk barnburners and whiskied-up ballads Erin conjures, the achingly rich, superbly rendered tales of rural America present and past. It’s more than the magnificent players she surrounds herself with, from the hottest pickers in Vermont’s Green Mountains to the Nashville hotshots like Grammy Award winner Tim O’Brien, IBMA “Guitarist of the Year” Bryan Sutton, and ACM “Fiddle Player of the Year” Stuart Duncan, who back her up on her latest album, “Time to Go.” When Erin McDermott sings, it’s an emotional testament to what it is to be human—the sweet and the bitter of life, the pure glory and the heartbreaking, bewildering loss. Live or on record, she’s a performer you don’t want to miss.
Erin considers her music “Folkass” (a little bit of folk, little bit of bluegrass and a little bit of everything else). A keen observer of the human experience, she has gathered countless stories about intriguing characters through her many adventures. Whether writing about historical figures with mordant humor, expressing tender strength and sophistication or reaching toward lighthearted enthusiasm, Erin possesses a powerful gift for communicating her life stories through song. Erin is currently working on her upcoming release “Time to Go” with producer Brent Truitt, in his Nashville studio. Brent is known for his work with the Dixie Chicks, Alison Krauss and Dolly Parton to name a few.
“Erin McDermott writes short stories in song about small town life in Vermont. Her characters come alive in the songs and you get to know these real people by the time the second chorus comes around. With a voice as strong and as uniquely expressive as her lyrics, Erin is a songwriter to watch in the coming years.” ~ Tim O’Brien
Roustabout • Roustabout is a trio of acoustic bass, fiddle, guitar, and vocals fronted by Josh Philpott with Jeremy Darrow and Tyler Andal. The source material of Roustabout comes the American folk tradition and mainly the Appalachian old-time tradition. The goal is to keep the underlying qualities that make folk music magical while not being bound by the musical practices of its tradition. Roustabout delivers a string band sound of its own. With dramatic vocals, creative arrangements, and playing that’s both beautiful and intense, Roustabout sheds new light on traditional American music.
Roustabout, along with its debut release, “Sittin’ on Top of the World,” is fast being recognized as a captivating trio with an inspired sound.
“On The Road” at The AcoustiCana Journal • Many groups or artists who record and perform roots music are also to a greater of lesser degree the modern redefinition of the roving minstrels of old. A significant part of their life is spent on the road, listening to new music and new artists, and meeting other bands and artists, whose music they discover and explore as they barnstorm across vast landscapes. In a similar vein to Charles Kuralt‘s “America”; This is their musical journey.
“On The Road” presents their reflections & insights on recent releases as they travel.