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Columbia, MD- Bluegrass outfit Town Mountain found themselves guests of the Charm City region at The Soundry in nearby Columbia last month.
On the evening of November 1, locals at The Soundry beamed with excitement as the Asheville-based quintet approached the stage. From the very beginning, the show was high – energy, and it didn’t calm down from start to finish. While The Soundry asks fans to keep their noise to a minimum, as the venue is considered a listening room, the band invited fans to get up, dance and sing along while they played. Of all the concerts I’ve been too, this one was probably one of the most intimate. The band and the crowd were in sync with each other only fueling the band’s already stellar performance.
Town Mountain has been touring across the country, releasing new music, and building a continuously growing fan base for the past fifteen years. Their first album, Original Bluegrass and Roots Country, was released in 2007 and followed by five albums including their latest in 2018, New Freedom Blues. Phil Barker, who is a vocalist and mandolinist, continues to enjoy live performances. “We want a venue to have something for everyone,” said Barker. “We want a space for people who want to get up and dance and enjoy the night that way and also a space for fans that want to sit down and enjoy a drink.”
The group cites two sources of major influence: country legends like Earl Scruggs, Bill Monroe, and George Jones, and classic rock group The Grateful Dead.
For Barker, the group aims to “redefine a genre”. Many people would scoff at such a goal or consider it to be too ambitious for them. As I listen to their studio work, I can certainly hear the influences they spoke of, but I too hear something unique. The classic bluegrass sound takes a modern twist, one that offers something new and welcome to country music as a whole. Town Mountain extends the realm of what bluegrass is, and their attempt to redefine a genre is not only doable, it is being done.
In recent months, I have found myself leaving shows – often before the encore. The performers, often, seems as if they lost touch with the audience or each other around the show’s midpoint causing their music as a whole to suffer.
This was not the case here.
Not only did I stay for the entire show, but I felt engaged throughout its duration. Their stage presence was exemplary. Each musician was so tightly knit with each other that I could rarely hear a mistake. Being a musician myself, this is a feat that is worthy of commendation.
For older generations who question the lack of integrity in current popular music, much of their criticism holds true. Town Mountain and artists like them, however, dispel these generalizations by creating new music that captures their uniqueness while remaining loyal to their country roots.
In short, their show was stellar, and I will be looking forward to the next time they make a stop in the Baltimore area.
Tony Sheaffer is a staff writer and music critic for the UB Post.
Nicknamed “Charm City”, Baltimore is home to the Inner Harbor, rich history, thriving arts scenes, and some of the nation’s best festivals attracting both lifelong Baltimoreans, tourists, and everyone in between.
Light City, the country’s first large-scale festival of art, music, and innovation is in its fourth year in Baltimore and continues to earn praise from critics and locals, alike.
For the first time, the Baltimore Book Festival and Light City have been combined prompting the Baltimore Sun to explain that organizers combination of both emphasized brilliance, “both in the light exhibits and in the imagination inspired by the books.”
“Light City reimagines the waterfront into a premier cultural destination: fully accessible, free and open to all. Located along the Inner Harbor’s brick-lined promenade, the festival features awe-inspiring art installations, performances, concerts, a fun-filled family zone and special moments including an Opening Night Parade and a Closing Night fireworks finale. The festival’s food and beverage offerings are proudly 100% local, reflecting Baltimore’s burgeoning cuisine scene” (via Brilliant Baltimore)
Jeff Dominguez is the Director of Communications and Marketing for the UB Post.