Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Rock Salt and Nails. Pickin Up the Pieces.

Rock Salt and Nails.  Pickin up the Pieces.

This folk quintet out of Alliance was brought to my attention by Cheryl Paine, a colleague at the University of Mount Union (Thanks, Cheryl!).  Rock Salt and Nails has been together as a group since 2008, and perform an eclectic mix of music that is simultaneously fresh, familiar, and highly tasteful.  Several things stand out about the group, including their excellent choice of songs by other artists, the quality of their original songs, and the fact that they share lead vocals pretty equally among the 16 tracks.  Everybody gets their chance and the variety of voices, combined with sweet harmonies, makes for an album that never lacks for something new with each track.  

I can’t possibly work through each track, and so I will mostly relate my personal highlights which are many considering the songs the group has chosen by Norman Blake, Tom T. Hall, Richard Thompson, A. P. Carter, Kate Wolf, and others, along with the ever popular Traditional.  In fact, one of my favorites is good old “Shady Grove,” beautifully sung by Andy Dutter.  Jim Dutter does a wonderful rendition of “All My Tears” on the next track, which is familiar to me by way of Emmylou Harris.  Andy gets another shot with an original co-written with Ann Hendel, “Silver Circle,” a very traditional-sounding tune.  Further along in the album, they have another song, “Morning Star,” which is a delight.  Priscilla Roggenkamp shows off a lovely, clear voice on her original, “ A Place at Your Table.”  Tom T. Hall’s song, “That’s How I Got to Memphis,” is a classic, as is “Gold Watch and Chain,” made famous by the Carter Family.  Both display some marvelous harmonies.  “1952 Vincent Black Lightning,” a Richard Thompson song, is just wonderful, as is “Across the Great Divide,” written by Kate Wolf.

The musicianship on this album is very impressive, with a constantly changing constellation of guitars, mandolins, banjos, and bass.  The result is a solid and winning set of performances on their first and so far, only album.  Perhaps there will be more?  They make regular appearances throughout the area, so go catch them in person!

Personnel:  Keith McMahon (guitar, mandolin, vocals), Andy Dutter (guitar, mandolin, bass, vocals), Ann Hendel (banjo, vocals), Jim Dutter (guitar, vocals), Priscilla Roggenkamp (bass, vocals).
Tracks:  Slopes of Beech Mountain, Shady Grove, All My Tears, Silver Circle, A Place at Your Table, That’s How I Got to Memphis, Church Street Blues, 1952 Vincent Black Lightning, Gold Watch and Chain, Under the Surface, Bold Riley, Early, Morning Star, Sweet is the Melody, Across the Great Divide, Pickin up the Pieces.

Jeff Wanser

1 comment:

  1. This group has a really good sound together. I cannot wait to get them to Maine. I am partial to their bassist (my sister), but love all of them. If you haven't seen them, check out them out on the web or their facebook page. You can find audio of their songs, too.