It’s Monday, but Thursday ain’t all that far away. Especially now that it’s October and all of the Alive@Five/Country On The Creek/Thursday night awesomeness has concluded for the year, you are going to be looking to fill in the musical gap on Said Day Of The Week, and this week, you’re in luck. Asheville, North Carolina’s Redleg Husky are coming to The Blue Side and you really, really, really shouldn’t miss it. We recently caught up with Son the Bassman to discuss the recent departure of a founding member, their upcoming first-ever trip to Maryland, and, of course, what we can expect from their set in a few days at The Blue Side. It’s a whole lotta pickin’ and a whole lotta fun. Stuff goes down at 8 p.m. Rock and roll, friends. Rock and roll.
First, I see the band is down to two members now. How did the decision come to downsize the project? So much of your music was enhanced by the guy/girl harmonies – how do you plan on making up for that absence now?
Misa decided to hang up the full-time musician hat and also to move back up to Connecticut, where she’s from (you can read more about her departure here). We’re parting ways as friends, though, so she’s been kind enough to continue her duties as press manager for a few more weeks. As far as adjusting to her absence musically, we’re just focusing on different dynamic elements in our music – moving away a little bit from a focus on songwriting and harmonies and bringing to the fore more of our musicianship on guitar and bass and on creating really exciting arrangements of old country and bluegrass songs. Our focus, more than ever, is on creating a really dynamic live sound that people will want to get up and dance to.
I listened a bit to “My Old Heart” today and it’s pretty good. You guys like to straddle genre lines, especially considering how some of the songs have a full band behind them. How would you describe your music in terms of a meshing of genres? Are you cognizant of blurring the lines stylistically, or is it something that comes naturally?
I think it comes naturally for sure, just as a result of us all being open-minded, music-loving people who listen to most genres and who are excited about incorporating elements of whatever inspires us into what we’re creating. With the album, that breadth was complimented by the musicians that we were working with, who were coming from varied backgrounds. We took each song on its own and tried to imagine how we could record and produce it to bring it to life. For some, that meant a very simple string arrangement, while for others, a fuller sound felt right.
Will this be the first time you guys have played in Frederick? If so, what are you looking forward to finding?
This will be our first time in Frederick, and this show, plus our shows that weekend in Frostburg and Accident, will be our first in Maryland. We’re hoping that folks at these shows have the same kind of appreciation for bluegrass and country music that we’ve encountered throughout the rest of Appalachia, from Tennessee to Pittsburgh.
Take us through the history of the band. How did you come together and how did everything start?
Tim and Misa met in grad school in Boone, North Carolina, where they were both part of the Appalachian Studies program. They started playing together and just got more and more serious. By the time they graduated, they shifted to being full-time musicians. I met them in Denver while they were on their first national tour and I was touring with another band out of Richmond, Virginia, where I lived at the time. We hit it off right away and stayed in touch, and eventually, they invited me to move down to Asheville – where they were settling down – and join the band.
Who are some of your major influences and why?
Tony Rice and Doc Watson have a major influence both on our sound and our repertoire – just two of the best to have played acoustic guitar and to have played American music. Tim and I have also connected over old blues, and we’re excited to be working a couple more blues tunes into our set, including ones that T-Bone Walker and Muddy Waters used to do. For me as a bass player, my deepest influences begin and end with Bootsy Collins, and there’s no doubt that I’ve been putting more and more of the Parliament-Funkadelic universe into Tim’s ears, resulting in some distinctly funky off-ramps on our musical highways.
Can you give us names of some artists we need to check out that we maybe haven’t seen/heard yet? Who are you listening to the most these days?
A lot of what we listen to is older music that a lot of people are already familiar with, including the full spectrum of country across the decades, from Bob Wills and Hank Williams to Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson. Since changing over to a duo, though, we’ve definitely been tuning into what other roots duos have been doing in recent years and picking up bits of inspiration or ideas from those — groups like Shovels & Rope and The Two Man Gentleman Band. Some of our favorite up-and-coming bands that we love staying up with are Red Light Rodeo, from Richmond, and one I hope that all of Maryland is familiar with by now, The Plate Scrapers, from Hagerstown.
Where are some of your favorite places to play and why?
Our favorite shows tend to be at bars in small mountain towns throughout Appalachia. It seems that the smaller the town, the friendlier the people, and the more ready they are to hear something that they may not have heard before, dance, and have a great time. Our main goal as a live band is to share in the celebration of life with whomever comes to hear us, and to take a few hours to set aside all of our cares through the power of music.
What does the rest of 2016 look like for Redleg Husky from here on out?
We’re playing five nights a week pretty much through the end of the year, mostly in the Carolinas except for some shows in Virginia and our first run of shows in Maryland. Our next long out of state tour is to Alabama and Louisiana in January.
What do you think is the most perfect song ever written and why?
I’d like to think it’s one that we’ll have the opportunity to write if we continue being serious scribes of the strings for another 50 years or so.
And finally, what can we expect from your set at The Blue Side?
You can expect to have the best time you could possibly have anywhere on a Thursday night, getting down to a country and bluegrass groove unlike any other that you’ve heard, and you can expect to look up from time to time and pinch yourself in disbelief at all that sound coming from just two pickers.