NO HAYSEEDS Smith, Pangaro, Bordeau, and Lurgio.
Bluegrass/Americana quartet Three Tall Pines recently released their second album, All That's Left, the follow-up to their 2008 debut, Short While Ago (both available at iTunes and cdbaby.com). The Boston-based foursome with Rhody ties will make their debut at the Narrows Center For the Arts with another Mass-area crew, Acousticana, in a dual-CD release party next Thursday (the 12th).
Joe Lurgio, Three Tall Pines's lead vocalist and mandolin player, was raised in Providence (and later Warwick); his mother Joanne Lurgio is a familiar name on the Rhody singer/songwriter circuit. I asked him just where TTP fits in among the regional bluegrass bands.
"One of my favorite quotes is, 'There's only two kids of music — good and bad,' " Lurgio said earlier this week (we assume he puts TTP in the "good" column). He cited the soundtrack of the 2000 film O Brother, Where Art Thou?, produced by T-Bone Burnett and featuring Allison Krauss, Ralph Stanley, Emmylou Harris, and Gillian Welch, as the inspiration for the fever pitch resurgence of old-time bluegrass.
"I think that film and the soundtrack exposed a lot of mainstream people to the genre who may have previously considered it 'hayseed' or primitive," Lurgio noted. Now residing in Boston, Lurgio also saluted the new roots program offered at Berklee College of Music.
"The presence of this program has given New England a folk heartbeat that is strong not only in Boston, but has influenced artists of the genre from Portland down to Providence."
Lurgio credits the autobiography of bluegrass patriarch Dr. Ralph Stanley as inspiration behind recording the new album. Three Tall Pines (initially a trio) sound more confident, loose, and evolved on their latest disc, co-written by guitarist (and Taunton native) Dan Bordeau, along with Gian Pangaro (double bass), and the talented Conor Smith (fiddle), whose classical violin training via the Suzuki Method began at age six. He learned Celtic Irish fiddle at age 15 while living in Ireland, and is currently a music teacher in Quincy, Massachusetts.
These guys seem like seasoned backporch pros on All That's Left, which was recorded live to tape in three days at a studio in Somerville, Massachusetts. "One room with lots of mics made for a really fun and natural setting," recalled Lurgio. The band's rich harmonies shine on bittersweet numbers "Hard Rain" ("Wasting away, lost in my yesterdays," Lurgio sings) and "Window Panes." A pretty, pirouetting violin line guides the standout "Black Sunday Blues," while banjo and slide guitar get a nice workout on "Tire Chains" and the lone instrumental track, "Rosebud." And 14 friends packed the studio for the closing cut "Weary Traveler"; that one alone is worth looking up All That's Left.
TTP just landed a mainstage slot at the upcoming Ossipee Valley Bluegrass Festival in Maine, and the dual-release party with Acousticana continues at Club Passim in Cambridge on Sunday (the 15th) and another Rhode Island visit in mid-February; check threetallpines.com for updates.
THREE TALL PINES + ACOUSTICANA | Thursday, January 12 @ 8 pm | Narrows Center for the Arts, 16 Anawan Street, Fall River, MA | $15 advance, $17 day of show | 508.324.1926 | ncfta.org