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What is it about folk and blues music... the earthy place rock and roll began... that I keep coming back to and keeps speaking to me? Maybe it's the earthy authenticity and honesty, or the rich heritage... I don't know exactly what it is, but I like it. I like it so much that I'm even up late nights when I probably shouldn't be, listening to new artists on our local PBS stations when they show footage from blues and folk festivals/concerts far and wide.
This past weekend (or maybe it was the one before) I was up watching one such festival and happened a band that really caught my attention. They're called Bonpony and they're from good ole' Nashville Tennessee. A three piece with a rich earthy folk rock sound... make that folk stomp sound... with a touch of blues and bluegrass that's authentic, raw and totally infectious. They've released a total of 6 albums now (I think) with catchy, gritty songwriting that is a testament to why they have gained quite a devoted following over the years and have toured with people like ZZ Top and Bob Segar.
When I caught them on PBS that first time what struck me was how much fun they put into their music. These three guys absolutely give it their all every second, and it comes through in their songs as everyone literally requires foot tapping and hand clapping. I also think their instrumentation ys interesting with just vocals and guitar, bits of fiddle, mandolin, drums (or maybe just a tambourine on a kick pedal) making for a sound that is very rich but also pretty slim and minimal. It's very, well earthy as that's really the only way I can describe it. Great music though and if the performance I saw was any indication, they're a killer live band that would be a ton of fun to see in a bar, at an outdoors festival, or just sitting around the front porch.
There's 5 songs on the band's myspace that you can listen to and they all have a great folksy flavor. "Free" is a upbeat stomp that's got some great uplifting vocals with a bit of bluegrass coming through in the fiddle parts. "Home" continues in the folk stomp flavor, but has a bit more of a bluesy swagger to my ears, especially in the vocals and harmonica bursts. "Jubilee" is a little more laid back, but not too much, shifting bluesy stomp instead for a lighthearted party feel. That blues comes back though in the acoustic guitar licks and a lot of the vocal and lyrical moments. All of these songs will definitely get your toes tapping though, as they have great energy and soul. Of all the songs I've heard so far, "Soap" is perhaps (just maybe) the closest to pure folk, although it's still upbeat and has a lot of country in it as well. With a great sing-along chorus and massively soulful vocal work, it's just as catchy and alive as the other three. "Half as Much Love" is the most pulled back with more of a standard pop rock beat. It's still upbeat, uplifting and compelling though, especially with a unique guitar lead.
I'm really digging all of these songs so far as there's just something about them that works well. Not every band can pull off the kind of rich folk stomp authenticity that Bonepony brings to the stage and even fewer can do it with the same soul song to song. I guess that's what you gain being on the road for years, out playing the music you love as it's obvious these guys have lived and still are doing just that, loving every minute of it. The music just seems to click, sounding earthy and real, but being full of joy, happiness and fun. Just a lot of folk stomp fun that's been weathered, but makes you feel good. Think that gritty bar down south that's got all the old beat up wood, worn, used and aged to perfection, but the place is really hoppin', beer bottles clinking, the music pouring out, people are laughing and dancing and living it up having a good ole' time till the wee hours of the morning. That's what their music conjures in my mind and I bet it's a pretty accurate image of what it'd be like to see them live too.
Overall, I think if you're into folk rock, folk stomp, or just gritty earthy rock and roll, then Bonepony is definitely a band to check out. They're making some great music and I'm really looking forward to seeing what else this band has to offer. Although I'm thinking that the real way to experience their music is live as they probably do more than a little jamming, the albums look like they're worth checking out too.
You can learn all about Bonepony from the band's website here: http://www.bonepony.com/index.cfm
You can listen to the tracks I've talked about here on the band's myspace here: http://www.myspace.com/boneponystomp
And they also have a Sonicbids page that you should check out as you can listen to a few other songs from them, including a live one or two, all of which sound pretty sweet too: http://www.sonicbids.com/epk/epk.asp?epk_id=65779