Bluegrass isn’t for everyone. No genre of music is. Still, if you spend any amount of time listening to bluegrass, you start to realize the beauty of it. The fact that bluegrass bands can do so much with only stringed instruments is pretty impressive. Furthermore, when you do spend any significant time listening to bluegrass, you realize just how incredible the players are. Part of the reason bluegrass bands can do so much with just strings is that they are so good with those stringed instruments.
Turkeyfoot is a band from Colorado. True to the bluegrass tradition, this band started performing around one microphone at a bluegrass jam in Denver. On the new album Promise of Tomorrow, it’s pretty clear that the members have spent a lot of time with the traditional sounds of the genre.
The title track is one that catches the attention, and not simply because it features some pedal steel. The story is of two brothers growing up with an abusive father in Oklahoma in the Dust Bowl. The boys dream of moving elsewhere. Those dreams are summed up with the poignant phrase “The promise of tomorrow comes with leaving here today.” The story of the song is so well-crafted that you feel a part of it. You can sense the narrator’s yearning for something better.
If you’re a fan of Tom Waits, you will likely enjoy “Old Shoes.” This is a cover of “Old Shoes and Picture Postcards,” and it’s amazing to hear what banjo, mandolin, and upright bass can add to this old favorite.
You can pick any song on the album for an example of the quality of the musicians. “Snagglehorn Stomp” is a particularly good example because it is an instrumental. The fiddle and mandolin come to the forefront at the beginning of this song and give it a bit of a Celtic feel. The banjo and guitar are featured in the middle, and then at the end, all the members come together and show what they’re capable of.
This band isn’t just capable of good picking. They also tell good stories, and they can get you to dance whether it’s the downtempo “Telluride Waltz” or the foot-stomping instrumental “Westwater.” In addition, all that practice singing around one microphone has paid off with harmonies that are always pure.
This album is good enough to satisfy even the most persnickety bluegrass traditionalist. It’s also good enough to make a fan of someone who has not been very familiar with bluegrass. It contains 12 songs, but it seems to pass really quickly. Promise of Tomorrow will be available everywhere on June 5. Order your copy from the band’s website.
Jordan Brandenberg – mandolin
Michael Rudolph – bass
Bridger Dunnagan – fiddle
Dave Pailet – guitar, Dobro
Alex Koukov – banjo
Engineer: Eric Wiggs
Recorded at Vermilion Studios