deadstring brother 042013 036Kurt Marschke brought his current incarnation of Deadstring Brothers to the High Watt just after releasing Cannery Row on Bloodshot Records . Kurt moved here with the Sao Paulo era band back in 2010 and after some personnel and a few years, one could really tell the effect on his songwriting working with Nashville musicians.

deadstring brother 042013 044The music has moved away from the decidedly Mick Taylor – Rolling Stones vibe to more of a Flying Burrito Brothers- Bob Dylan / Nashville Skyline thing going on. It’s not that it sounds exactly like that; Kurt is just good at creating that vibe. It’s hard to say if the songwriting is stronger on Cannery Row or just different.

deadstring brother 042013 041Sao Paulo will probably be an underground classic. The Sao Paulo set at The Basement brought out a bunch of curious musicians back in 2010 and now some Nashville cats are making things happen with the new album.

deadstring brother 042013 010deadstring brother 042013 012The night started off with Lexington, Kentucky natives Fifth On The Floor with the Shooter Jennings produced Ashes & Angels material which has a raw backwoods outlaw country feel that was less southern comfort and more Kentucky corn squeezin’s goin’ on.

deadstring brother 042013 014deadstring brother 042013 020Nashville’s own The Smoking Flowers, brought a rather organic but different if not a little East of Nashville groove with the vocal duet of Kim & Scott Collins that fits with what the future Nashville reality is. Especially if you listen to the cuts being recorded for the Nashville TV show under the watchful eye of T. Bone Burnett, Buddy Miller and Colin Linden.

deadstring brother 042013 031If that type of Nashville moves forward, then songs like “Someday” should be huge hits.

deadstring brother 042013 038Kurt started off the Deadstring set with some new cuts playing a Strat rather than his trusty beat-up Telecaster Deluxe. The new vibe is rather akin to the Charlie Daniels/ Pete Drake – Dylan sessions with some excellent pedal steel work. The B3 swells Mike Webb was throwing down kind of kicked a little Heartbreakers territory into the mix.

deadstring brother 042013 043When Kurt took off the Strat and put on the beat up Tele , it was a whole vibe change. It was time for the Sao Paulo material which meant changing out Pete Drake Pedal Steel for another great local musician to bring a little of that Mick Taylor lead vibe.

deadstring brother 042013 052It felt like the crowd was ready to here the Sao Paulo material. It may be the hooks, it may be that it just has that rock swagger. Nashville is kind of getting hit over the head with roots country rock Americana right now. There is so much of it and only a few skilled leaders at it.

deadstring brother 042013 049When I think of roots country rock, Hayes Carll and Ryan Bingham come to mind. Ryan Bingham is a good case in point. Ryan’s new album has a lot of great atmosphere in the sonics, but when I saw him at Marathon last year, the crowd connected with “Hard Times” from three albums before. In fact, the three or four cuts from that previous album brought the biggest crowd response.

deadstring brother 042013 056Obviously, the title Cannery Row is a nod to Nashville and Kurt’s new found friends, but, it seems that the music is trying to too hard to sell itself on the new album. It really sounds good, but, I didn’t walk away with a particular new cut that stuck in my head.  The Strat was almost a prop, kind of like Dylan when he went electric, but the Sao Paulo Tele hooks with his combination of single lines and slide guitar seemed effortless to connect with the audience.

The new album will probably connect Deadstring Brothers with the Americana Music Festival crowd, but, how many writers can write Stones vibe tunes without ripping them off?  Maybe somewhere in the middle would be a good place to be.

Cannery Row material seems like discovery material or an in-betweener. The next album may be the real Nashville era showstopper.

All photos © 2013 Brad Hardisty

–          Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN