Back on the front burner

Two years since the release of their last album, the Weaverville-based Biscuit Burners have a new album, new influences evident in their music and a new band-family member. Biscuit Burners Mary Lucey and Billy Cardine had a son about six months ago.

Smoke on the horizon: Weaverville’s Biscuit Burners are back with a new album.

The acoustic band, rounded out by Odessa Jorgensen and Dan Bletz, has spread its old-time and bluegrass-flavored music across the country since forming five years ago. The Biscuit Burners will celebrate it all with a CD-release party for their third album, Take Me Home, at the Grey Eagle.

Xpress caught up with Billy Cardine at his Weaverville home recently.

Mountain Xpress: Billy, tell me about your new album, Take Me Home.
Cardine: It’s a bit of an eclectic mix, but it has a few of the new influences that have come to the band. … Some of it is a little more subtle and some of it is a little more obvious.

We recorded a Bengali folk song. The girls sing in the Bengali language for half the song, and there are English lyrics, and I play a 22-string Indian string guitar that my teacher in Calcutta made for me.

There’s more subtle stuff. Dan and I have been playing a lot of swing and jazz music, and—just in our phrasing—you can hear some of that stuff coming out. We went for a Pacific Island-y sound on the opening cut, so that was something different.

Who recorded your album?
All of our records have been done in the house, my house here in Weaverville. We usually add a new piece of gear each time we do a new record. We got a vocal mic this time.

The house backs up to national forest land. It faces south with big windows, and just absolutley a gorgeous view. We do it here partly just out of financial reasons. I’ve recorded bands since 1996. Around the time the Burners started picking up, I stopped doing it for other people. But it makes it so easy for scheduling, just being able to do it.

I’ve got a couple of isolation rooms with glass, so you have to wear headphones to play all together. Everybody’s got their own little mixer so they can dial in. It’s a pretty small set-up, but it works out really well, especially not having a drummer.

What else have you been working on?
We did just actually record a record with a band from Chalottesville. We jumped on board with them. We’re hoping to break them out. They’re a pop, Americana and soul mix. They’re really great. It’s called the Downbeat Project right now.

The guy that sings lead is Clarence Green and he’s just totally awesome. If I’ve ever meet a rock star waiting to happen, it’s him. And the gals are singing harmony and string parts, and I’m playing Dobro and electric slide guitar, and we have drums and bass and a guy playing mandolin. It’s just a really fun outlet for us. We can really rock out. The songs are really catchy, along the lines of Dave Matthews, and Clarence has a really good ear. The whole band sounds like a cross between Biscuit Burners, Jack Johnon and Ray Charles.

How else have things changed for the band since your last album?
Now that Mary and I have a little baby, we might not have as much road time, but we’re still full-steam ahead. We may scale back our schedule to 70 or 80 percent. Luckily the little guy likes traveling around. He’s almost 6 months old. His name is William Bodie.

How has the birth of your son affected you?
Nothing just seems to matter quite as much as it did. Just spending time with the family, everything kinda rolls a littler smoother. He’s so great. They really do teach you a lot.

How has the band’s success the last couple of years changed things?
It’s just awesome to have people be excited about what you’re doing. It allows it to happen. Having people be excited about it and happy about the music allows it to keep happening. It’s awesome to be playing shows in different parts of the country and having people sing along, but fundamentally nothing’s really changed for us, because from the get-go it’s been about us wriitng the material. So if it’s not our song, it’s a friend of ours, so we’ve kept it really ground-up. We do everything ourselves, us and our friends.

It hasn’t gotten overwhelming at all, and that’s probably because we’ve kept it grassroots.


who: Biscuit Burners
what: CD-release party for their third album release, Take Me Home
where: Grey Eagle
when: Thursday, March 13 (8:30 p.m. $12. www.thegreyeagle.com or 242-5800)

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