What do you call a musical group consisting of an NGO project manager, ex-punk rocker, high school teacher, and a multi-media designer that just piled out of a blue propanefueled passenger van? Answer: The Bottom Dwellers, a new country act out of Yolo County, Ca., whose cut, "Company Truck" was recently featured on NPRs Car Talk.
The thought of country music leaves, at best, a bittersweet taste in many a mouth. Fear not, this brand of country is not the prosaic crooning synonymous with Nebraska rest stops, nor will it ever be rotated on Country Music Television. The Bottom Dwellers (BDs) are re-inventing honky-tonk while maintaining their roots, having been compared to the likes of Merle Haggard and Hank Williams. Their blend of old and new should prove a strong match for Truckees historic/developing dichotomy.
Attempting to classify the groups niche in the country world is difficult. The sterile "Alternative Country" suffices for those perusing the aisles at the local corporate music depot. And, in a general sense this label would be hitting a broad nail on its broad explanatory head.
However, something a bit more creative is necessary to evoke the groups musical essence. The BDs self image lands somewhere near the "electric swamp boogie" and "chicken-fried honky-tonk twang" mark. Their debut album title, Twang Americana, doubles also as a definition.
"[We] dont think many people realize how many sub genres of country music there actually are. And just like anything it lends itself to experimentation," says the Woodland quartet.
After listening to a few tracks, the bands experimental tendencies become evident. "Were starting to play around with some new styles at rehearsal." For example, "[we have] a great new Banda fusion tune about Paso Robles." Another work in progress includes some Commodoreesque riffs.
The bottom line is, the BDs musical scope is as packed as a paper plate at a backwoods barb- q. Contributing to this varied repertoire are the members individual musical backgrounds. Together they produce a chemistry capable of heel stomping across the spectrum of country traditions.
Before drummer Chris Enyons conversion to "swampy dirt," he was perhaps the member most likely to have played Moodys Bistro, with an impressive San Francisco jazz/funk resume.
Mark Eaglton, on bull fiddle, used to play bass for Floss, a Sacramento indie rock band. He says, those "who knew [me] before the haircut," still have trouble believing the transition.
A fascination with swing and gypsy jazz guitar evolved for Ivan Sohrakoff, the groups founder, into western swing, a genre they briefly explored together before morphing into their current sound. The BDs joke, "now [we wear] older clothes and hats."
Adjectives like speedy and dexterous smatter recent write ups describing the edgy pick work of guitarist/vocalist Adam Hancock. To sample some tasty tunes check out the band at www.bottomdwellersmusic.com. Free music is offered along with further details.
Supplementing the country ensembles original scores is a healthy catalog of covers ranging from some obscure John Sebastian tunes to unique renditions of the classics like "Folsom Prison." About covering the man in black, the plaid clad twangers say, "you have to give it that extra juice. No one can get away with playing Johnny Cash like Johnny Cash."
Look for The Bottom Dwellers on January 20 and 21 at the Past Time Club and Bar of America respectively. They predict, "a rip snortin twang fest on stage."Tweet