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Town Mountain: The Dead Session Released

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Town Mountain - The Dead SessionAsheville, NC -- Town Mountain independently released The Dead Session on Friday, November 13, 2015. “Each member of this band has enjoyed the music of the Grateful Dead for quite some time,” says vocalist and guitarist Robert Greer. “It seemed only fitting for Town Mountain to pay respect to some musical heroes in this year, their 50th year of existence.” The band recorded an impromptu set of two of their favorite songs from the Grateful Dead’s catalog at the widely acclaimed Echo Mountain Recording Studios in their hometown of Asheville, NC.

This is the Grateful Dead done in Town Mountain’s hard drivin’ style filled with a honky tonk edge and barroom swagger. The resulting sound is touched by Jerry Garcia with Jimmy Martin and John Hartford… Fitting since Hartford played a short stint in Old and In The Way before Vassar Clements filled out the band on fiddle, and Garcia’s first instrument was a banjo as he was influenced by bluegrass music throughout his career. Narrowing down to just two was not an easy task for Town Mountain.

“Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo” was written by Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter and originally released on Wake of the Flood in 1973. It was performed over 230 times live by The Dead over the years and the song was also the second set opener of the second night of the Fare Thee Well shows in Santa Clara this year.

“Big River” was written by Johnny Cash in 1958. But true to The Dead's fashion they would take other people's songs or traditional songs and make them their own. They had a knack for finding covers that were transcendent of the original artist and they played it in almost 400 live performances.

The core of Town Mountain is Robert Greer on vocals and guitar, Jesse Langlais on banjo and vocals, Bobby Britt on fiddle, Phil Barker on mandolin and vocals, and Adam Chaffins on bass (Adam is featured on “Mississippi”). Evan Martin plays drums on both tracks. Jon Stickley fills in on bass and guitar in “Big River” and Jack Deveroux lays down the pedal steel on “Big River.”

Read what’s been being said about Town Mountain: The Dead Session

“In one of the more novel stop-gap moves by a band in any genre, Town Mountain is filling the time it takes to search out a record label home for its newest studio set [Produced by Dirk Powell, due out Spring of 2016] by re-releasing a two-song EP disc on Nov. 13 called The Dead Session. It consists not of new original works showcasing the band's heavily rhythmic, traditionally-minded bluegrass or even revisions of traditional Americana string band tunes. It instead offers a pair of honky tonk-hearty renditions of two songs by one of Town Mountain's favorite non-bluegrass inspirations: the Grateful Dead.” --Kentucky.com, Walter Tunis

"There is no question that Town Mountain’s musicianship is fantastic. More importantly, it is also clear that they love the Grateful Dead enough to do them homage on their 50th anniversary, not by trying to be them, but by succeeding in reworking their Dead favorites as their own.” --Rock and Roll Meandering Nonsense, Bob Vinyl

“I was lucky enough to design the cover art,” says Taylor Swope about The Making of Town Mountain’s Dead Session Album Art. “Like everything should, this project started with a basic sketch...It’s all about experimentation with this kind of illustration work… With the scene set, I began filling in the details, but the last one came from Martin Anderson at WNCW in North Carolina who suggested the Raven...There is a lyric in the Grateful Dead’s Uncle John’s Band that goes, 'It’s the same story the crow told me; it’s the only one he knows.' Also there was this album art once upon a time, so the crow appears here and there in Grateful Dead imagery although it never quite caught on like the icons you already know..."

“While the band's sound hews closely to bluegrass traditions, there's enough virtuosity to make them popular among jam band circles as well. It doesn't hurt that the band recently recorded two Grateful Dead covers to honor the founding fathers of jam's 50th birthday.” --Examiner, Chris Griffy

“You didn’t really think that a remake of Tommy bluegrass style [The HillBenders] would be the end of it, did you? Now here comes Town Mountain with The Dead Session, a special two-track project celebrating the 50th Anniversary of The Grateful Dead. … the old school single features a pair of Dead songs done up bluegrass, Town Mountain style.” --Bluegrass Today John Lawless

"Wow, I like these hard-core acoustic honky-tonk takes on two Grateful Dead favorites!" --David Gans, musician and co-author of This Is All a Dream We Dreamed: An Oral History of the Grateful Dead.

Great Excerpt from a feature on Town Mountain’s Jesse Langlais in The Banjo Reserve

Q (TBR) “Town Mountain is releasing a couple Grateful Dead songs in November 2015, I understand the Grateful Dead are among some of the classic rock bands you listened to when you were younger. Jerry Garcia was known to play banjo, did you or Jerry's banjo playing have much influence over selecting these releases? Tell us more about the project?”

A (TM) “I still listen to the Grateful Dead and will continue to as long as I can hear.

Here's a brief story of how I got into bluegrass and the banjo. I'm definitely not the only one with this story. When I was 19 or so I bought an Old and In The Way CD. I was washing dishes at my parents house and when that first song came on, ‘Pig in a Pen’, I was floored. I probably dropped what was in my hands and just sat there in awe. My bluegrass journey had begun and I wasn't going back.

I'm from Maine, and even though there is a bluegrass scene in New England it was not a part of my upbringing. It wasn't something that I even heard until I bought the Old and In The Way CD. I couldn't even have defined what it was up until that point. All I knew was when I heard it that's what I wanted to do. I wanted to make that noise, that sound. I wanted to pick and pluck the banjo from that point on. Jerry took my hand and guided me to somewhere I had never been before. Soon after that I was introduced to the first generation of bluegrass and that's when I really started to dig into the history and sound of bluegrass.” --Read the full interview with Town Mountain’s Jesse Langlais at The Banjo Reserve ? www.banjoreserve.com/index.php/artists/item/98-jesse-langlais

Town Mountain is in it for the long haul... check out out where they’ll be travelin’ to next and keep an eye on TownMountain.net for further dates as well as a brand new selection of merchandise. For updates from the road, please visit facebook.com/TownMountain, twitter.com/TownMountain, and instagram.com/townmountainbluegrass.

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