Listen: Brick Walls by Bat & The Bears

Pictured above courtesy Gregory Frederick Athens GA Live Music is GF experimental project Bat & The Bears at a 2019 performance in the now unfortunately defunct Caledonia Lounge.

This is their first single out since last September’s Roost, and we all at Gypsy Farm are just cheery to present, here and now for your listening pleasure: “Brick Walls” by Bat & The Bears!

Debut: The Drovers release WCCP radio show collection

Three decades after initially airing on Clemson’s WCCP radio, The Drovers Old Time Medicine Show are set to release over 30 songs from their original program.

Spanning throughout a period of almost five years, this collection is perhaps the most comprehensive selection of early-era Drover recordings ever made available.

Several bluegrass standards from Monroe, Carter & Tanner are all present as well as several outstanding originals by Drover’s front-man, Ed Campbell (AKA: Dr. Trundell, AKA: Grandpa) and these include “Autumn Time (In Caroline)”, “That Low Down Damp & Dusty Trail” & charming closer “The Mailbox Song”.

Following their last studio album (2004’s Dreamland) the group tragically lost the master tapes for another album and began to slowly fade back into the dimly lit corners of juke joints, creek beds, and cow pastures.

Then in 2017, a box containing nearly every episode of their long-cancelled radio show was unearthed.

These cherished recordings, captured by original bassist Rob Keller, document The Drovers in their youth and during an extremely creative time for the punk rock-turned-bluegrass band, hailing from Prater’s Creek, SC.

The Drovers took their name a few years prior to the Irish-rock band by the same name, the latter even opting to send Dr. Trundell and the gang a “cease & desist” letter thus prompting the original (and first) Drovers to address the situation by writing it into a 2-part skit feature episode of their show:

As time ticks on, for the better part of almost 40 years, the band continues to live up to their name, herding cattle and droving their way through trials, tribulations, Alzheimer’s and death.

The Drovers’ WCCP-AM collection is avaliable now on Gypsy Farm Records via youtube & bandcamp.

“The Drovers Old Time Medicine Show blows everything else away” – Creative Loafing

“They are to bluegrass what Neil Armstrong is to the moon” – Flagpole

“Speed bluegrass and church waltzes lovingly and brilliantly played” – MOJO

The Drovers Old Time Medicine Show with their “Hillbilly Doppler” (patent pending)

Listen: The Humms perform “PGP” live

Taken from a full performance back in September, The Humms belt out their song “PGP” live before a ghostly studio audience at the Shoal Creek Country Music Park in Lavonia, GA.

The song is from their most recent album, Vampire Hours, released last fall on Gypsy Farm Records.

The Humms (2020 Courtesy NetfreqTV)

Cover image by Casey Doran / The Sun Is Flat Organization.

Listen: “Come Home” The Haunted Head

Coming into sight for the month of March, we see the return of Brant Duncan’s Carolina musical troop, known as The Haunted Head. Their latest production, a song titled “Come Home” surely encompasses everything you’ve come to know and appreciate about the band’s somber side.

Stream and share “Come Home” by the Haunted Head and support your favorite local artists, near and far this Friday (March 5th) by participating in this year’s second Bandcamp Friday.

Also seeing light today for the first time in over twenty years, is a collection of four-track recordings by Duncan’s former associates, Unabnormal, a 90s-era Clemson/Athens band fronted by Georgolina’s own concierge of portastudio saturation, Thom Strickland, who claims that the cassette tape was just recently re-discovered, under his bed.

The collection is called Diving Bell/Wishing Well, and along with a growing assortment of other titles, is out now, courtesy of Strickland’s “Brown Paper” record label, that isn’t.

Release: Early Hits & Rarities by the William Ross Group

We’re tickled to announce today the release of Early Hits & Rarities by the William Ross Group, on Gypsy Farm Records.

If you’re confused as to just who this group is, much less currently consists of, the forthcoming venture of musical noise may offer little assistance with any further clarification.

From the opener “Foax“, we submerse into some kind of universal airport terminal that creeps and crawls along, slightly behind schedule while the listener may drift in-and-out of cave-dance consciousness, accepting the charges of what ghoulish collect call that is “Northern Telecomm 1967” before stoking into some low-down, late night, toasty-trio rehearsal on “Sundown In Pumpkintown / Soul & Sea Foam”.  

The sessions, while mildly cinematic at times on “Spark Of A Shadow”, abruptly end as much as they wind up a start, only to derail into a manic collage of sound, interrupted often by the station’s disk jockey team that appear to be as delusional as the programming itself, perhaps due to lack of sleep and abundance of caffeine while they scramble to mention sponsors on the aptly titled “Coming In Hot”.

This is the first official EP release from William Ross Group and their first appearance since last year’s Stranger Rider.

You can enjoy the whole shebang, in full-stream and downloads, taking place now over at YouTube & Bandcamp, the latter of which will be celebrating the first Bandcamp Friday of 2021 at the end of this week and we encourage that you peruse their ever expanding cache of fine, fine music and physical merch.

Premiere: The Humms video for “Blue Bite”

Psych-trippers and all-around-down to hang out in your garage, The Humms have just released a brand-new video for their song titled Blue Bite and let me be the first to say that I’m not sure what to make of the song, much less the video.

The tune comes from their Vampire Hours album, released on vinyl by Gypsy Farm last fall and the “M.A.S.H. on acid” type atmosphere within this accompanying video is reminiscent of my long lost youth, attempting to fine-tune our television antenna that stretched up beyond the heavens.

The headache induced by this music video is not unlike that old picture on our beloved Zenith set.

But alas, this video showcases the band’s ever-widening, multi-genre court of noise, to be polite. It was produced by Gypsy Farm subsidiary, Parkertown productions.

NPR’s John Slights says “It’s not everyday an album containing psychedelic folk, sludge rock, and 60’s style surf rock inspired tunes comes along, but ‘Vampire Hours’ is exactly that. In many ways, it’s a throwback album that still manages to look to the future.” – (Athens News Matters)

Watch and share The Humms – Blue Bite music video on YouTube.

Listen: “Requiem For A Linthead” by Pine Tar Rage

According to the South Carolina Encyclopedia, the nickname Linthead “likely came into common usage early in the twentieth century, when the growing number of cotton mills and mill workers began to alter the landscape of South Carolina life.” – Tom Terrill

While upstate singer songwriter, Ed Campbell (Pine Tar Rage, The Drovers) is no stranger to the late-night lint life, he has also spent the better part of 40 years documenting the Palmetto area through song, and proudly exclaims:

“I’ve stayed past my prime, I’ve stayed past my time – should have quit – yes I know – but I’m paying debts to the bets made a long time ago”

This release marks the first new material from the group since last year’s track “Perfect Day”, a softer-song structure when compared to the rest of PTR’s discography, it should come as no sudden surprise to long time fans of The Drovers Old Time Medicine Show, also fronted by Campbell.

Stream and share “Requiem For A Linthead” by Pine Tar Rage, and enjoy this excerpt of an interview Campbell gave back in 2019 on the hallucinate forming of The Drovers Old Time Medicine Show.

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2020: The Year That Slapped

“Don’t you just love new years? you get to start all over. Everybody gets a second chance.” – Forrest Gump (1994)

I loathe the word slapped and most variants of it. Yet, for such a year as 2020, perhaps that word justly defines what a slap in the face it was. Perhaps it was even necessary. Having said that, everyone here is proud of you for sticking around, as there’s still plenty to be thankful for and so, so much to look forward to.

And there is still much work to be done. While 2020 may have set the standard fairly low for modern day “shit-years”, it is these times that (hopefully) cause one to reflect heavily on what makes them happy.

Matter of fact, what pisses them off? What makes it all worth it? Do you miss playing dobro, or does one miss all eyes on you, showbro?

ZZ gazing down to Athens GA by WJAY

Currently in the GF world, our parent entity Parkertown (KLEM Industries) have been privately contracted to assist with a paranormal research team, beginning next year.

Long-time confidants of Gypsy Farm will take over the label, PR, and video division, assuring 2021 has a visual soundtrack, never mind the theme.

Patron’s of our bandcamp store can save 30% off everything, now until January 2nd. Enter code: byebye2020

In the spirit of positivity, and by direct-order of Gypsy Farm’s in-house dokter, here lay a countdown of but only a few mini achievements, for this year, 2020:

8. Distributed to more record stores, than in 2019
7. Grew our YouTube channel with a variety of subjects
6. Successful in-store showcase at Yesterdaze Records
5. Recorded two full-length albums with the Dish Boys
4. Released 13+ titles to our online catalog
3. Pressed The Humms’ Vampire Hours album
2. Played a gig at Jesco White’s house
1. Donated 936 meals to the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia via purchases from our bandcamp store

As stated before, we’re glad you’re here and hope to see you next year.

Release: The Bear Traps debut

Any patron of the downtown Athens gift shop Junkman’s Daughter’s Brother will probably remember Dave Martin. If they don’t, chances are they may have caught the musical group, Poncho Magic at Tasty World once or twice.

Dave Martin at 40 Watt club, 2012. Photo by Bryan Brown.

Since way back when, Martin has kept busy in a variety of ways, like performing various duties with electronic act Astral Summer and playing guitar with Gypsy Farm artists Uncle Goo and The Humms.

Dave Martin performing with The Humms (2020, courtesy Netfreqtv)

Naturally, we are proud to announce the debut of Dave’s latest endeavor, a bedroom pop-stained, musical mattress titled THE BEAR TRAPS and it’s two singles: “Desert Of Love” b/w “I Don’t Want To Die Tonight” are out now on Gypsy Farm Records.

Interview: Cicada Rhythm

Cicada Rhythm is the dynamic duo of Andrea DeMarcus and Dave Kirslis.

Hailing from Northeast Georgia, they are more often than not, joined by the likes of Colin Agnew, Matt Stoessel, and Dan Kirslis.

They are also quite fine friends of the Gypsy Farm organization and first official installment of what we hope will become our on-going interview series, brought to you by GF field correspondent, Willie Shears.

“What Cicada Rhythm offers is roots music that’s unassuming, expertly played and sung by two clear as glass voices.”  – NPR

L-R: Dave Kirslis, Andrea DeMarcus & Colin Agnew. Photo by Faye Webster.

How did y’all meet?  I’ve heard there was a train involved? 

Andrea: Dave and I met after he jumped off of a freight train with his old pal Matt Pendrick (Slow Parade). He called a mutual friend and we both went to pick them up! They were really dirty. He always says “It wasn’t love at first sight”, and he’s right, but I will never forget that day.

Andrea, what can you say about your experience at Juilliard?

It was a time when I worked very hard on myself and my talent. I wish I could say it was the best thing that ever happened to me, but the truth is, it was the greatest challenge I have ever faced. I had many shining moments playing music with exceptional artists, and I met many people who were on their way to fame and achievement. It opened my eyes and humbled me in so many ways so very many times.

I’m happy to have graduated, and pressed myself to learn exactly what I wanted from life, which is changing all the time, even still. It seems that the adventure of creation, performing, and earning every new fan with a made from scratch sound and vocal vulnerability that excites me infinitely more than reading notes from a page.  

Dave, when did you begin playing guitar and harmonica? 

My first guitar came from a trash pile on the side of the road, it had a shattered slotted headstock which my dad rebuilt. It existed in my childhood home as long as I can remember but neither my dad or I knew how to play or tune it. I was always attracted to it and in 6th grade I got a couple lessons from Rick Rudica at what was Dekalb Music in downtown Decatur, Georgia.

After that I pretty much knew how to tune it and would mess around at home. When I went to boarding school for the rest of middle and high school, I taught myself through that period. After graduating high school I came back to Atlanta and took a few more lessons with Rick and then became interested in finger picking.

At that time I was very interested in early blues and roots music. I saw Joe Mcguinness play at the 5 spot in little five points one night in 2008 and was really impressed with his finger style. I later contacted him to take lessons and I learned a lot from him about technique and music. I became interested in theory and Joe told me to try a few lessons with Oliver Wood.

Oliver Wood (far right) of The Wood Brothers. Photo by Abby Gillardi

I took a few lessons with him until he moved to Nashville. Shortly after that I moved to Athens, and I took a few classical guitar lessons. Then I had a lesson with Dan Nettles and I plan to take some more lessons from him. There’s always something to learn on guitar. 

I began playing harmonica when I found an old dusty harmonica under the stage at Blind Willies, I should have never put that thing in my mouth. I used to perform roots music on Monday nights at Blind Willies with my band Midnight Revival. I know just enough about harmonica to be dangerous but I find it useful when there are too many guitars in the mix. I also enjoy carving out electric tones when playing one through an amp and try to stay out of the way.

When did y’all sign with Normaltown / New West Records? 

We signed with Normaltown in 2015, and our most recent record, “Everywhere I go” came out on New West in 2018.

How was your experience recording with producer Drew Vandenburg? (Faye Webster, Deerhunter, Of Montreal)

Dave: Drew was great. I love the tones he captures and his approach. When you work with him you know you’re in good hands plus he is a classy chap and a straight shooter. He tries to capture you the way you sound, but the best it can sound, if that makes sense. 

Colin Agnew. Photo courtesy of colinagnew.com

When did Colin join? I love his drumming / percussion style. 

Dave: Colin started playing in CR around 2015, Andrea and I were touring as a duo and we did a co-bill tour with Adron. They were also a duo and Colin would hop on stage during “In the Garden” and play percussion for that tune. It felt very natural with him. Andrea, like any good bass player, has a great time. But my squirrelly guitar playing weaves in and out sometimes, but Colin can play seamlessly between Andrea and I and it makes it work on a new level. Colin is a very musical person, he is also a great piano player and can sing! Not to mention a great engineer too, he is a huge part of the band. 

Name other musicians that tour with Cicada Rhythm.

Matt Stoessel, Dan Kirslis, John Neff, Steven Leadbetter, Rex Hussmann, Justin Hotzclaw, Rhett Huffman, Colin James Dean, Chris Mala,  Joseph Faul and Patrick Russert are all folks we’ve had play with Cicada. 

Cicada Rhythm with Matt Stoessel

How was your first tour abroad, outside of the US, (with Jim White?)

We love Jim. He is one of the best storytellers I know and such a great songwriter. Touring Europe for the first time and playing with Jim was a memory we will never forget. We didn’t have a tour manager so we were doing everything so it was a huge handful. We also got to meet some really interesting people hanging out with him. Jim is like a character out of a Wes Anderson movie. 

CR recently toured the U.S. with Kishi Bashi, both as an opener and backing band.. how different was that experience from the usual tour? 

Again, another Athens great who provided an unforgettable experience for CR. Touring with him was the real deal, we were on a bus, had a crew, early load ins and very late nights.

But it was magical, Kaoru is one of the kindest folks we have ever got to work with. He’s a brilliant musician and a talented songwriter and fearless when it comes to music.

But to answer your question, his tour was different than ours mostly by scale and reach. He could play to 2k people a night, where we’d play to 200 hopefully. He’d play one day in San Francisco, the next day in Seattle, that wouldn’t be possible in our band-driven Sprinter van.

Hopefully someday, if the music industry ever returns to normal we can get there. 

Dave, you’ve recently started to work with bees, how’s that experience? 

It has consumed me. I started with two hives last year, now I have twelve. Hoping to continue to grow. I really love it, they are fascinating creatures. 

Dave,  when did your father begin to play the flute?

He picked it up in college. He took piano lessons up until then and knew a lot of theory. But he prefers to play flute now when improvising. It’s still one of my goals to record with him someday. 

Andrea, what is your ideal way to prepare, pre-gig? 

I guess I don’t really have one!

WREK 91.1 FM Atlanta, GA. Photo courtesy of Georgia Tech Alumni website.

Dave, were you once a DJ at WREK? How was that? Favorite records?

I was the host of Friday Night Fish Fry and the Jazz morning show. The fish fry was blues so I would play a lot of Sean Costello, Joe Mcguinness,Mudcat, Coopdaville, Nate Nelson & his entertainment crackers, the Breeze Kings, which were all local Northside Tavern Bands. I would play the classics like Chuck Berry, Jerry Reed, JB Lenoir, Howlin Wolf, Robert Johnson.

I used to love playing Robert Johnson records and I would slow down the rpms to 30 rpm. I think the recording equipment used when tracking him was sped up somehow. I would get tons of calls into the station of people very curious about it. When I was on the jazz show, I played a lot of Art Tatum, Billie Holliday, Fats Domino, Ray Charles, Chet Baker, and really any other records I found interesting in the WREK Archives. I loved working as a DJ there. 

Andrea, what strings do you prefer on the upright bass / double bass / bull fiddle?

Pirastro strings. 

Cicada Rhythm. Photo by Evan Leavitt

I know you both have recently been recording more demos at home, how has that been?  What’s your set up? Feel free to get as technical as desired. 

We built a standing desk on wheels, with rack mount gear underneath, and a Sound Workshop 1280B console on top of  the desk. I recently recapped the whole console myself. I have a 12 channel snake that goes into my console, and then the console has direct outs that go through the patch bay normalled to my Lynx [Aurora 16] interface.

I have some UA and ampex analog gear I can patch in before or after I hit Pro Tools 12.  I also have a tascam 414 that has some of the SW console bus channels routed to it. I love that thing. I really enjoy recording at home, I’ve found it can be helpful to have an engineer on hand when tracking a lot of songs, so instead of me playing both roles I can just focus on the music. 

Shortly before his passing, you sat down to dinner with the late Col. Bruce Hampton, how was that experience? 

Dave: He was amazing and larger than life. Our Manager Matt Wilson was his good friend and lawyer. He came to two CR shows at Eddie’s Attic. We listened to him tell stories after our set and he guessed my birthday on the 3rd try. He said I was an earthy guy for a Cancer sign haha. I felt very lucky and honored to have met with him.

We had tickets to go to see his final show, but we were booked and gave them to my friend, Sam Holt, who was thankful to be there, Sam was in that jam circle, he’s also a great guitar player. Col Bruce was an Atlanta treasure. May he rest in peace. 

How was working with Oliver of the Wood Brothers + Milk Carton Kids on your most recent release? 

Dave: Working with Oliver and Kenneth was pretty great. Oliver has been a hero for me since day one, and I learned alot from working with Kenneth. Kenneth also got me obsessed with Hammond organs.

We felt very lucky to be in the company of both of those great players. We learned a lot through that album, and it was stressful making a record in a town you are 6 hours away from but I am proud of that record and we come away stronger. 

Dave, you’ve been refurbishing a 1950’s Gibson acoustic guitar, how did that come about? 

Robert Motes is an excellent luthier down the road from me. He brought that guitar back to life and did an incredible job. It was an LG1 1950s Gibson that I bought off a girl in Hiawassee, GA . It was priced very low because the sunburst finished had been sanded off and it was warped beyond belief.

Robert took off the back and redid some bracing, flattened out the warps in the belly and installed a bridge doctor and a new bridge and saddle. The guitar is now one of my favorites, I still am in awe of the work he did. 

Andrea/Dave, tell us about the strangest gig you can recollect. 

(Andrea) Probably playing a set on one of our first tours. We were in Knoxville, playing a Christian coffee house. We were literally only getting paid in coffee and the coffee was awful. They set us up in front of a large glass wall, which had an narcotics anonymous meeting going on on the other side.

(Dave) The only person that came was my dad who lived in Oakridge, he sat on a couch in front of us, and occasionally would hop up and dance around in his flip flops. A couple times they would walk around the glass wall and tell us to quiet down. It was a strange gig. 

Cicada Rhythm appears courtesy of Normaltown Records.

Cover photo by Mallory Edwards.