If you love ol' timey music, the Toughcats' Run to the Mill is the disc for you, 'cause that's the commencement point for this blend of bluegrass, folk, and roots. There's a bit of the evocative Guggenheim Trio in there as well, that blend of pop and unorthodox beauty in a mellifluous flavor, not to mention the stripped down instrumental honesty of the renowned America band, but don't expect those analogues to be very obvious. Toss in show tune refrains (Everytime) and a virally infectious sense of humor and good times, and you end up with an irresistable blend.
Save for the appearance of Michael DeVellis on sax and violins, the Toughcats are a trio and maintain that unique presence all good threesomes seem to singularly possess. The harmony vocals are spot-on, and the playing straight out of a backwoods Tennessee dime store porch, but the spirit behind it all is what marks these guys as stand-outs, and their concert appearances draw nothing but raves. Doesn't hurt either that drummer Jacob Greenlaw plays a suitcase or that Colin Gulley takes the stray opportunity to bow his banjo. Kinda makes guitarist-pianist Joseph Nelson seem damn near plain, doesn't it?…except he sure as hell knows his way around those strings.
More, the Toughcats write every song but one, yet manage to sound as though plundered from the 40s, redolent of straw hats, whiskey pots, flappers, buskers, and tree stump troubadors. There's more than a little jug as well, a vim practically fleering in its mischief and high-steppin' vitality, and that goes far to explain why such authorities as Sam Bush, Tony Trischka, Kathy Mattea, and even hellraising Leftie author Jim Hightower have worked with the boys in the studio and in concert. Takes one bunch of insightful overachievers to recognize another.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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