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Gettin’ Grassed

When it comes to local Cincy bluegrass you have two main veins, traditional grass and slam grass. This month we feature a little bit of both. A mainstream grass band - Hickory Robot and a slammin’ grass band - Rumpke Mountain Boys.

Hickory Robot is a four piece band Formed in the summer of 2008, the band features mandolin (Scott Carnder), fiddle (Lauren Schloemer), bass (Matt Holt) and guitar (Jim Pelz), showing off their talent, they frequently swap instruments.  Three of the members are vocalists as well.  One, (Lauren) is often compared to Gillian Welch and Alison Krauss, but I would add Sheryl Crow to the list as well.
Hickory Robot has a fairly new 13-track work - Firefly. Surprising diversity unfolds in Firefly, much credit for that is due to the members’ multi-instrumentalist skills, violin, bass, guitar and mandolin are staples, banjo, cello and even a washboard are incorporated too. Talented writing, marvelous musicianship and Lauren Schloemer’s fiddle and pipes have given Hickory Robot many raving reviews. You can get a listen for yourself online at Hickory Robot’s sites; (myspace.com/hickoryrobot or hickoryrobot.com) both feature much info and great tunes. A few quick highlights are; Temptation & Sin”, an edgy, galloping tune. Lauren spins a tale of trials and desires, fast strumming follows her pace all the way through, quick chugging, it’s steam locomotive like. Modestly modern and catchy. “Falling is Still Flying” takes swooping jazz-esque twists & turns and weaves them into a sorta-love song. It goes from jazz grass, to joy grass and back again on every chorus. Progressive grass perhaps? “Granite State” is pure Kentucky Backporch Jug Band Bluegrass. Living in Ohio but longing for a distant home is the theme this diddy playfully dances to. Square dance grass maybe.
The sacred John Prine song “Angel from Montgomery” is covered with respect. Lauren sings it soulfully but thankfully with no aires. You can feel she’s at ease, honest and comfortable with her style. It’s refreshingly simple. “Firefly” and “Turtle Creek” are tattooed with Texas grass. Cool tunes with a real old western flavor. “Turkey Scratch” sounds like it’s coming right across the water off a big tall stacked riverboat. The only instrumental tune on Firefly. True old school Americana. The band runs a gamut of styles gracefully.
Firefly is perfect for NKU (among others), if they don’t play it they should be ashamed. It’s all American, roots, old time low down bluegrass and at least 5 more other grasses mixed in to keep it interesting. It’s worth a click and listen or a buy.

 

 

 

 

 

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