Deadstring Brothers

Silver Mountain

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It wouldn't be a surprise to discover that Detroit singer/songwriter and guitarist Kurt Marschke's band the Deadstring Brothers had started out as a Rolling Stones tribute group with a name like "the Tumbling Dice" or "the Exiles on Main Street" to suggest their affection for a specific era of the Stones' career, roughly from 1968 to 1973. That's the sound that's evoked out of the box on "Ain't No Hidin' Love," the opening track of the Deadstring Brothers' third album, Silver Mountain. It's a rock sound that has been emulated by others, notably Aerosmith and the Black Crowes, but the Deadstring Brothers take things a step further. Even their ballads, such as "If You Want Me To," are Stones-like; you can practically sing "Moonlight Mile" to the arrangement. Clearly, the group was in transition during the making of Silver Mountain. The current credited lineup includes Marschke, harmony singer Masha (aka Masha Marjieh), and drummer E. Travis Harrett, joined by a trio of new recruits from Great Britain, brothers Spencer Cullum (various guitars and string instruments) and Jeff Cullum (bass), plus keyboardist Patrick Kenneally. But the players on the individual tracks of the record include such stalwarts as keyboardist Ross Westerbur, bass player Phil Skarich, and percussionist Eric Hoegemeyer, among others. Whatever the lineup, Marschke keeps to his game plan, although, as the disc goes on, it becomes apparent that his sense of country music is not the same as that of the Stones, i.e., he doesn't have his tongue in his cheek the way Mick Jagger and company do so often. In fact, about halfway through, the turning point being the title song, Silver Mountain starts morphing into a legitimate country-rock album with the emphasis on country. Willie Nelson's harmonica player Mickey Raphael even signs on for a couple of the later tracks. It's curious to sequence an album this way. By the end, the band's Stones fixation seems to have given way not only to a Gram Parsons feel but even to the kind of country Parsons himself emulated.

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