The Greasy Beans , Busted (Double Ought): Four Stars
• Genre(s): Bluegrass
• You’ll like it if: You incorporate “high and lonesome” and “skin it back” into your everyday vernacular.
• Defining song: “Truly True”—An updated version of a picker done wrong.
Bluegrass is my friend by default. Throughout my life – via radio, TV, strangers humming, music venue, place of employment, street corner, magazine, tent revival—the genre has appeared whether I’m in the mood or not. There’s no contempt, only the realization that my buddy bluegrass will always be there. It also helps when bands like the Greasy Beans – led by guitarist Josh Haddix and mandolin man Charley Brophey – put my clingy pal in a great light.
Their new release, Busted, furthers their reputation of being simply one of the best bluegrass bands around. Legendary banjo man Danny Barnes (the bluegrass version of Les Claypool, who once headed the excellent Bad Livers) joins GB on every cut, as well as heading the production, and bassist Keith Lowe (Fiona Apple, Bill Frisell) also lends a hand. The end result is hotter than an Iowa cornfield ablaze.
Yes, they can certainly pick, but their reserve (instead of giving into that harlot known as “hot licks”) makes the album sweat with anticipation. The updated version of “Cain and Abel” (with Cain now brandishing a .44) re-examines the Bible, the instrumental “Betty Jane’s Mule” politely allows each member a plucking turn, and the title track laments a spurned troubadour exacting revenge on an ex-lover. Old-timers will certainly recognize the themes, but young pups will appreciate the modern approach. It looks like bluegrass has put another notch in its weathered, but handsome, belt.
The Greasy Beans will be shucking overtime in the next month. Up first is their CD release party for Busted at the Grey Eagle on Feb. 17, with High Windy and Lance Mills opening the show. Even more intriguing is their appearance at Diana Wortham Theatre on March 3 and 4 with the North Carolina Dance Troupe. Titled Under Southern Skies, the event explores the music and the artists of the South and (according to the Web site) “reflects on the ever-changing landscape of the region.” The Beans participate on “Shindig,” a part of the program with ballet set to traditional bluegrass music. [See Xpress’ feature story in the March 1 issue.]
Local band County Farm will mend their evil plucking ways when they appear with gospel diva Bernie Parquette at the 1500-seat Honeywell Center in Wabash, Ind. on March 4. Founder and president of Psalm 98 ministries (located in Las Vegas’s arch-nemesis, Branson, Missouri), Parquette has been twice voted Female Vocalist of the year in her hometown. Known for their devilish instrumental forays, County Farm should heed Parquette’s statement of faith: “endless heaven for the redeemed, endless hell for the damned.” Go to www.countyfarm.net for more cherubic info.
[When he’s not bending readers to his will, Hunter Pope cooks, gardens, hikes, and spends his mortgage money on CDs he’s never heard.]