Raw, soulful, and with plenty of swagger, Town Mountain has earned raves for their hard-driving sound, their in-house songwriting and the honky-tonk edge that permeates their exhilarating live performances, whether in a packed club or at a sold-out festival. The hearty base of Town Mountain’s music is the bluegrass triumvirate of Bill Monroe, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. It’s what else goes into the mix that brings it all to life both on stage and on record and reflects the group’s wide-ranging influences – from the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia and the ethereal lyrics of Robert Hunter, to the honest, vintage country of Willie, Waylon and Merle.
“The Asheville, North Carolina, five-piece hews pretty close to tradition, especially when it comes to instrumentation: acoustic guitar, banjo, fiddle, mandolin, double bass, and not a drum in sight. And with three vocalists and driving forces within the band — guitarist Robert Greer, banjoist Jesse Langlais and mandolinist Phil Barker — the harmonies are there… But the band, which also features fiddler Jack Devereux and newest addition Adam Chaffins on bass, has serious country and rock ’n’ roll DNA,” says The Bend Bulletin’s Brian McElhiney.
They released their 5th studio album, Southern Crescent, on April 1, 2016 on LoHi Records and toured throughout the year with it. Produced and engineered by GRAMMY winner Dirk Powell, Southern Crescent was recorded in Powell’s studio The Cypress House in south-central Louisiana town of Breaux Bridge. Since it’s release the band debuted on the Grand Ole Opry and the Ryman Auditorium stages bringing their sound to new audiences. The critically acclaimed album debuted at #4 on the Billboard Bluegrass Chart while staying for ten weeks on the Americana Music Association’s radio chart’s Top 40.
“This Asheville band killed it at the Ryman this summer  opening up the bluegrass series and they put out this stellar collection of original songs that asserts them as the hippest, bluest traditional bluegrass band of their generation. In an era of bluegrass with manners, they cut with a serrated edge,” exclaims Nashville’s Roots Radio’s Craig Havighurst in his list of “Essential Americana Albums We Loved in 2016.”
Town Mountain has released five studio albums including their most recent, Southern Crescent (LoHi Records 2016) which was recorded in a decidedly old-school way, live, with minimal fixes and overdubs, with all the musicians in the same room and no noise-reducing baffling between them. The album’s “Songs of escape (‘Ain’t Gonna Worry Me’), reunion (‘Comin’ Back to You’), alienation (‘House with No Windows’), rambling (‘Wildbird’), and gambling (‘Arkansas Gambler’) present a panorama of sentiments and situations adding heft to the bluegrass canon,” according to Raleigh News & Observer’s Jack Bernhardt.
Other efforts include Leave The Bottle (Pinecastle Records 2012), Steady Operator (Pinecastle Records 2011), and Heroes & Heretics (October 2008). They also independently released a LIVE album (2014 from a show at Isis Music Hall in Asheville) as well as a two-song EP (2015) of Grateful Dead tunes called The Dead Sessions. Their debut album (June 2008) is entitled Original Bluegrass and Roots Country and Durango Telegraph’s Chris Aaland writes, “No critic has coined a better phrase to describe their sound.”
While the members have taken the road less traveled when it comes to the mainstream or traditional purists, they’ve been dubbed as “The Taco Stand Troubadours” by Aaland (due to their frequent stops at such establishments) and he calls them “one of those bands that has paid its dues and won over the Durango audience through the years, much like the Gourds and Leftover Salmon.”
In 2016 they performed opening shows with Railroad Earth, Peter Rowan, Hard Working Americans, Greensky Bluegrass, Yonder Mountain String Band, Hackensaw Boys, and Jim Lauderdale adding to previous years’ performances with Ralph Stanley and his Clinch Mountain Boys, The Del McCoury Band, The Seldom Scene, The Infamous Stringdusters, The Steep Canyon Rangers among others.
Since their formation in 2005, the same year they won the prestigious Rockygrass band competition, Town Mountain has traversed many a mile across the States, including Alaska, as well as into Canada, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Finland. Town Mountain has made their rounds to a plethora of festivals throughout the years including Pickathon, IBMA’s Wide Open Bluegrass, Wintergrass, The Durango Meltdown, MerleFest, Watermelon Park Festival, Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion, Suwannee Roots Revival, Suwannee Springfest, Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, The Grand Targhee Bluegrass Festival, The California Bluegrass Association’s Father’s Day Festival, DelFest, Lake Eden Arts Festival, Graves Mountain Festival, Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival, Nelsonville Music Festival in Ohio, ROMP, The Festival of the Bluegrass, Three Rivers Arts Festival, Denver Beer Co.’s Sundrenched Music Festival, Rooster Walk, Mountain Song, and Nelsonville Music Festival among others.
What has become one of the group’s more memorable live performance songs is their cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire,” which they first recorded in 2008’s Heroes & Heretics, with Greer’s distinctive Southern drawl at the forefront. The track has reached over 2 million listens on Spotify and garnered over 850,000 views on a YouTube video posted in 2012. The Atlantic’s Matt Vasilogambros writes, “Bruce Springsteen is a natural fit for bluegrass… Even the Boss’s earlier music had hints of folk influences. Just listen to “I’m On Fire”… I keep turning to one cover, which I admittedly listen to more often than the original. It’s from Town Mountain… They dropped the synthesizer, added a banjo, a fiddle, and another singer for harmony, and made a gem.”
Another fan favorite is their Jimmy Martin-esque original “Lawdog,” penned by Barker in 2012, which music journalist Juli Thanki instantly called an “unearthed classic” when the album was released. They recorded a live version of the song at WAMU’s Bluegrass Country Radio in 2013 which has nearly 100,000 views and continues to be a barn burner to this day with the entire crowd singing along as barker sings, “I make my livin driving, I’m a bluegrass music man… Chasin the horizon, for another one night stand… I got a lot of miles to travel, and I’m runnin a little late… And a no show gets me nothin, so don’t you get in my way. I got no time for ya lawdog…”
“While it remains a bluegrass band in all things instrumentation and touring the bluegrass and festival circuit, it’s’ sound crosses into American roots and even outlaw country, perhaps as a result of the gritty, mournful tone of Greer’s vocals.” Durango’s KDUR radio’s DJ, Bryant Liggett says, “It is reminiscent of the 1970s truck-driving film sound, the perfect accompaniment to a car chase through the south á la ‘Smokey and the Bandit.’”
Watch Town Mountain on WOUB’s Gladden House Sessions from the Nelsonville Music Festival → http://woub.org/2016/06/24/2016-gladden-house-sessions-town-mountain/Watch Town Mountain perform ‘Comin’ Back to You’ on The Bluegrass Situation’s Sitch Sessions → https://youtu.be/Ut4w6uJbAlo
Town Mountain on Fire After Recent Grand Ole Opry & Ryman Auditorium Debuts
Touring with New Album, Southern Crescent, Produced by Dirk Powell