Stillhouse Hollow

Dakota

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The drumless acoustic quartet making up Stillhouse Hollow from Franklin, TN -- Nathan Griffin on guitar and banjo, Jess Perkins on upright bass (plus a little piano), Scott Calpin on mandolin, and Joel Meeks on harmonica (plus a little tenor sax) -- suggests bluegrass or old-timey country in its instrumentation, and when you add in the untrained vocals and harmonies, those styles are even more presumed. But the group turns out to have more variety than that. Griffin, the main songwriter, has a feel for rustic Americana that recalls the Band in places, and his fellow members provide changes of pace and different colors here and there. Perkins' "Can't Take My Love," the first song to feature Meeks' saxophone, has a flavor of '50s rock & roll. "Pimp Hand," with its contemporary references, drags things into the 21st century, even as the music draws on jazz and blues, mixing "St. James Infirmary" and "Death Don't Have No Mercy" in with a bit of that great Oscar winner, "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp." So, the members of Stillhouse Hollow aren't quite ascetic hayseeds out of American Gothic, especially when they are singing about "Whiskey," an appropriate subject for a band with that name.

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