The Howlin' Brothers out of Nashville, TN — and celebrating their new album Howl — hit RLC Bluegrass Thursday with their high-caliber Americana. Open bluegrass jam at 6pm; show starts at 8pm!
The Howlin’ Brothers is a Nashville-based band that likes to keep one foot in tradition — and use the other to kick it right out the door.
On Howl, their first album for Brendan Benson’s Readymade Records label (through Thirty Tigers) released March 5, 2013, they effortlessly dispel all kinds of preconceived notions — starting with the myth that Nashville means just country. You can also forget the words rock and pop, regardless of what their association with Raconteur Benson, who produced, might imply. (Although, you must note, they do rock — just not according to, um, tradition).
Though they certainly incorporate bluegrass rhythms, these Ithaca College graduates say they’re better described as Americana, where multiple hyphens are the norm and boundaries are not. Perhaps because they veer frequently into old-time, country-blues and even Dixieland jazz territory, vocalist / upright bassist / banjo player Ben Plasse notes, “I think we’re more willing to take risks with arrangements and style. We’re not afraid to do anything we can pull off that that we think is groovy.”
And no, The Howlin’ Brothers are not siblings — nor even relatives. They do share a house just outside of Music City, and co-parent a 1½-year-old pit bull / border collie / bird dog “blend” named Cora Lee — who doesn’t howl… much. Coincidentally, siblings can be heard on Howl; members of Nashville’s Jypsi contribute harmony vocals to the gospel-graced closing track, “Mama Don’t You Tell Me.” Warren Haynes also guests, on “Big Time” (which he co-wrote with the band).
It should also be mentioned that none of them were raised in the foothills of the Smokies or the Blue Ridge Mountains, or anywhere near a “holler” — though they sound as if they’d fit right in at the Carter Family Fold in southern Virginia. (And when they plop matching white felt hats on their dark locks, they look the part, too.)