In each issue our editors curate a playlist of new music, mainly focusing on independent artists from the South. In July we’ve put together a special mix of tunes, all from artists performing at the jam- and roots-based 4848 Festival at West Virginia’s Snowshoe Mountain Resort from July 13-15.
Greensky Bluegrass “Congratulations
Dynamic string band Greensky Bluegrass headlines two days of this year’s 4848 Festival. This track, a recently released B-side from their latest album, “Stress Dreams,” showcases the group’s knack for heartfelt Americana songcraft. With plaintive dobro runs shading the message, mandolin player Paul Hoffmann sings about life’s murky moments—the simultaneous instances of birth and death or success and failure—that result in feelings of bittersweet longing. In the live setting, this is the kind of song that provides a thought-provoking breather from one of Greensky’s extended acoustic jams. – J.F.
“Dig A Hole in The Meadow”
Early risers at 4848 on Friday are in for a treat when Pappy kicks things off on the Boathouse Stage. When not shredding banjo for Cabinet, Patrick “Pappy” Biondo often performs as a solo project under his nickname, delivering experimental, banjo driven folk rock. “Dig A Hole in The Meadow,” which finds Biondi joined by guitar wizard Steve Kimock, is a fascinating take on an old time standard; it’s a safe bet that Flatt & Scruggs never envisioned the growling vocals, ominous banjo, electric guitar, and trippy synth effects heard here on this touchstone of Appalachian music. – D.S.
North Mississippi Allstars
“See the Moon”
Brothers Cody and Luther Dickinson have been pushing the boundaries of hill country blues since the late 90s. This lean, funky track from the band’s latest album, “Set Sail,” cruises with a confident strut and hypnotic guitar rolls, as Luther sings celebratory lyrics with special guests Lamar Williams Jr. and Sharisse Norman. It’s a fun party anthem that sounds like it was born in a juke joint, but it should also hit just right at a festival in the mountains. – J.F.
“Along for The Ride”
Festivalgoers should be prepared to dance into the early hours of Saturday morning with South Carolina’s Doom Flamingo. A side project of Umphrey’s McGee bassist Ryan Stasik that features the spectacular vocals of Kanika Moore, this is a band to stay up late with. “Along For the Ride” is a rave up dancer, with Moore’s vocals soaring over a manic rhythm, pushed by guitar, keyboards and horns that drive this tune’s energy to atmospheric levels. Festivarians, don’t sleep on this set—be sure to be at the Village Stage when Doom Flamingo kicks off at midnight on Friday. – D.S.
Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe
Soulful sax man Karl Denson has had quite the career, formerly working as a sideman for Lenny Kravitz and currently supplying brass notes on stage for the Rolling Stones. He also fronts his own funk crew, a festival mainstay with deep roots in the jam scene known for getting crowds moving. This hard-hitting banger from the group’s latest album, “Gnomes & Badgers,” exemplifies its prowess, combining the spacey aesthetic of Parliament with the in-the-pocket tightness of the Meters. Denson and company will play 4848’s final set at midnight on Saturday night. – J.F.
Daniel Donato’s Cosmic Country
“Ghost Riders in the Sky”
Nashville shredder Daniel Donato was just a teenager when he was performing regularly at Music City’s legendary honky tonk Robert’s Western World. With his Cosmic Country project, he’s taking his fleet-fingered twangy guitar runs to new heights, showcasing his intent during this extended instrumental take on an old cowboy standard. What starts as a trot through a desert landscape escalates into a peak psychedelic rock trip as Donato works his fret board at a frenetic distorted pace. The eight-minute track is found on the 2021 album “Cosmic Country & Western Songs.” – J.F.
Name someone in the jamband scene and pianist Holly Bowling has most likely collaborated with them. Classically trained, Bowling rose to prominence after transcribing and performing iconic Phish and Grateful Dead tunes on piano. Most notably, Bowling rendered a 37 minute “Tweezer,” note for note, on “Distillations of a Dream,” her 2015 album of Phish covers. Monstrous in both scope and ambition, Bowling’s retelling of the “Tahoe Tweezer” on piano is emblematic of both her talent and musical vision. – D.S.
“Runnin’ the Briars”
Fresh off winning the Telluride Bluegrass Festival Band Competition in June 2006, Greensky Bluegrass, under the guidance of Railroad Earth’s Tim Carbone, released “Tuesday Letter.” Tucked in the second spot on the record is “Runnin’ the Briars,” three minutes of pure bluegrass fire. The band is off and running from the opening notes, with Michael Bont (banjo), Dave Bruzza (guitar), and Paul Hoffman (mandolin) absolutely trading sonic blows. The picking is tight and ferocious, offering listeners hints of what these bluegrass monsters were soon to become. – D.S.
Cover Photo: Greensky Bluegrass headlines the 4848 Festival at Snowshoe Mountain. Photo courtesy of Big Hassle