Saturday, December 3, 2011

Mountain Sprout, Legendary Shack Shakers and Split Lip Rayfield in Ames, Iowa

My first introduction to a live bluegrass show last summer left me in a wake I thought I would never be in and also left me doing tons of research on bands I had never encountered before. Metal was always my first choice in music and if you ask anyone who personally knows me they will tell you that I trashed the music they listened to on more than one occasion. With Metal being the most superior form of music, why would you listen to anything else? Maybe I’m getting older or maybe my taste in music is changing. Whatever the case, my eyes have been opened to many other different forms of music not just Metal.

I saw Split Lip Rayfield last summer in Kansas City. After listening to countless CDs of theirs it was great to finally see them live. The bill hosted a gamut of other acts that were great, but I was there to see Split Lip. When I was informed they were coming to Ames, Iowa I jumped at the chance to see them again. A half hour drive to Ames was definitely more appealing than a two hour drive to Kansas City to see a show! Three acts were on the Ames bill: Mountain Sprout, Legendary Shack Shakers and Split Lip Rayfield. I really liked the closeness and feel of DG’s Tap House in Ames, however, I was not impressed with the bar staff. I understand it’s a college town and beer needs restocking, but with three people behind the bar I felt they could have been a little faster refilling the drinks. Oh, and their shot glasses are very deceiving, they have a lip on the inside of them that actually makes the glass appear regular size. In actuality the shots are smaller. (end alcoholic rant)

If you like your bluegrass dirty, I mean really dirty, look no further than Mountain Sprout. To the unfamiliar ear you may only hear the twang of a banjo and the harmonized clicks of the upright bass, but to the seasoned fan there is something more. The quartet from Arkansas has figured out a way to combine humor, fast paced bluegrass and beer. Your Mom may not approve of their lyrical content, but if she does you may be listening to her music. Cocaine, weed, liquor, speed, strippers, dry counties, and lustful acts with neighbors are a few song topics and this may cover the lyrics in a song or two. Content aside, Mountain Sprout is a fun band to watch live. The fiddle may not be considered a bad-ass instrument, but then again most people have never seen Blayne Thiebaud play it. If you are looking for a physically energetic band, then Mountain Sprout may not be for you. Blayne and upright bass player Daniel Redmond will be the only two that you will find standing during a performance. I thought the crowd was a little lacking at the Ames performance, this is probably due to being an opener as well as people in Iowa not knowing who they are.
Grayson Van Sickle of Mountain Sprout in Ames, IA
When I learned that Col. JD Wilkes of The Dirt Daubers was also the vocalist of  Legendary Shack Shakers I couldn’t wait to see what he had to bring to the stage with this band. I would have guessed that he wouldn’t disappoint and he didn’t! If anyone needs a free lesson on how to be a performer I would suggest watching any Youtube video of Legendary Shack Shakers. JD is an absolute madman with his taped up distortion filled microphone and all around stage presence. Their set seemed to go on forever even though it was about average length probably because of his commanding interaction with the crowd. A surprising twist to the Shack Shakers, if you like trivia, is guitarist Duane Denison used to play for The Jesus Lizard. If you are going to spend your hard earned cash on a real show and you want your moneys worth, GO SEE LEGENDARY SHACK SHAKERS!!! Photos of the Shack Shakers set can be viewed HERE

There isn’t much to say about Split Lip Rayfield that myself or other reviewers haven‘t said before. These three are amazing technical performers as well as a great cohesive on stage. I am sorry that I never got to see SLR with Kirk Rundstrom (former guitarist). This show was the end of a tour for the trio for a few days and they were to get a much needed break. The face and stage actions of Wayne Gottstine (mandolin) said it all. I did hear some people in the crowd say that they noticed him watching the game on one of the tv’s in the back while he was playing. Whether it’s true or not, Wayne plays the mandolin so effortlessly it may have been hard to tell what he was looking at. I was very happy to hear two new songs again that made it onto the set list for the evening one of which is titled “I Used To Know Your Wife”. I am told by reputable sources that this track has plans of making it on the new album stated for release in 2012. Split Lip Rayfield photos


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