We used to do a segment on the podcast called the Redneck Report. I’m not sure how exactly it got started, or how I was nominated to be the redneck, but it was and so was I. I’ve always contended that I am not a redneck, and in fact, despite my Appalachian heritage, I am probably the furthest thing from it. This week, however, I’m not going to make a very strong case for my claims of being free from redneck tendencies.
Last week I was in the local record store digging through a recent score of mint-condition blues and jazz records the owner made, when I stumbled onto a Hot Rize album. Hot Rize, if you didn’t already know, though I’m sure you did, is a bluegrass band. They are one of those bands that plays a lot of the hard and fast variety of bluegrass tunes.
The record, having just come in, didn’t have a price on it yet. So I asked how much, and the answer to my inquiry surprised me. The record, which was 30 years old, was going for about $20 in most circles.
I never thought bluegrass was very popular, but this says otherwise. There are people out there who really like this stuff. I can’t say I’m a bluegrass expert, or even an enthusiast, but I’ve been a casual listener all my life. It’s just part of the culture where I’m from. Like it or not, in this part of appalachia, it’s tough to make it through a lifetime without being in a room somewhere, with someone picking out a bluegrass number at some point.
Hot Rize is not the focus of this week’s #APCNewToMe post. This week we’re looking at a bluegrass band I found by listening to Hot Rize online, Mountain Sprout.
Mountain Sprout is a bluegrass band from Springdale, Arkansas, who have been recording since 2005, and is still touring the midwest and beyond today.
Mountain Sprout isn’t your typical bluegrass band though.
Bluegrass is notorious for having way too many gospel numbers in it, and a few too many slow numbers in it as well. It’s known for being stuffy shirted, stiff, and something that could be performed in a church. That’s not this bunch.
These guys pop out some classic bluegrass rhythms, but then lay lyrics over them about drinking, drugging, and the man being responsible for keeping every one of us down.
In their song Screw the Government, for example:
“I’m just an ol’ redneck hippie, I love my beer, and guns, and pot; I could’ve filled up my pickup truck with all the cocaine that I bought; … I’ve got bills to pay, kids to raise, with money already spent, I’ll plant some weed in my corn row man, screw the government.”
I liked the sentiment of saying screw the government immediately.
They go on to sing about hangovers, drinking, more drugs, some more drinking, and then touch on a few other aspects of living in the economically depressed regions of rural America.
They aren’t just a good time band either.
In songs like Into the Sun, they sing about putting oil company CEOs, politicians, bankers, and a few others, onto a spaceship and shooting them into the sun.
At times, the lyrics remind me of something Shel Silverstein might have written for Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show in the late 1960s.
The song Smell the Daisies is one that reminds me of those classics..
“You gotta work at being lazy, let yourself get crazy, take the time to drink the wine, then stop and smell the daisies.” (Again, this is to the best of my interpretive abilities)
The song Shitting in the Woods is another one that reminds me of Dr. Hook, and yes, the song is about just what it sounds like it’s about. I get it. I understand where this song came from. If you’ve never shit in the woods, I recommend giving it a shot some time soon. It’s an experience, you’ll never forget.
Big Blue Marble is about the mysteries of life and the fact we’re all just spinning through space on a big blue marble. Hell, they even do a version of Are You Drinking With Me Jesus?.
These guys should not be confused with the pseudo-bluegrass that’s gaining popularity these days thanks to the likes of bands like The Avett Brothers. There are no whiny, overly-sensitive men, pining for some broad who kicked them to the curb here.
Mountain Sprout is whinyman free.
This is bluegrass with balls.
Now, back to me for a minute.
Yeah, bluegrass is kind of rednecky, but I would argue that it could also be viewed as being hippie-ish. Over the past decade, I’ve noticed myself becoming more hippie-like in my philosophies as I age. So I don’t care what anyone says, I’m gonna see myself as more hippie than redneck, but not really either when it comes down to it.
FamBilly Hour (2008)
As always, you can follow along with my effort to find a band I like each week, that I have never heard before being introduced to them by referral, radio, tv, streaming service, etc., by following the Spotify playlist we’re putting together to accompany the discoveries. These bands don’t have to be new, per se, they just have to be new to me. How much more can you ask? There’s a lot of music out there, and I can’t listen to all of it at once. Sometimes it takes me a while to get to it.