When you think of bluegrass music, chances are, you don’t normally think of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada as where it would emanate. I met up with “The Dead South” at the end of their “Served Cold” North American tour.
According to the Canadian ensemble’s front-man, Nate Hilts, they were out to show “there are hillbillies everywhere,” which is part of the quartet’s wide appeal.
Most bluegrass bands have a banjo, a stand-up doublebass, a fiddle and the occasional percussion instruments and guitars, but The Dead South ain’t your grandpappy’s bluegrass music.
Songs like “Travelin’ Man” and “Recap” are a kind of folksy throwback to oldschool ‘outlaw country’ music, reminiscent of “The Highwaymen”, while other tracks like “Blue Trash” and “Crawdaddy Served Cold” sound like textbook bluegrass jams.
“The Dead South’s’’ classically-trained cellist, Danny Kenyon, shares vocals and fills the space between bassist and fiddler by alternating between plucking his strings and playing them with a bow.
Colton “Crawdaddy” Crawford drives the twang with his banjo and stomping his bass drum pedal to the floor, while Hilts and Scott Pringle trade mandolin, guitar, vocal duties and harmonies on other songs.
At the pre-concert meet and greet, Kenyon said he and his bandmates would “go home, and spend some much needed time with our families for a few weeks,” before they embark on the European leg of their tour.
The folk-bluegrass quartet uses colorful language to describe characters and tell stories through their songs. They crafted a West Virginia coal-miner’s anthem with the song “Black Lung” on their latest album with Six Shooter Records, “Sugar & Joy.”
Part of the band’s gimmick has them clad in pioneeresque costumes which see the band wearing suspenders and boots, Kenyon wearing a tie and Crawford in an old-style skinny ribbon neck-bow-tie a-la Colonel Sanders.
Hilts completes his suit with a jacket and sports a bolo tie and a wide-brimmed hat. Meanwhile, Pringle’s long hair and beard under his hat make him look like an old prospector looking to start the next gold rush.
“The Dead South’s” set list included crowd favorites such as “The Bastard Son,” “In Hell I’ll Be In Good Company” and “Fat Little Killer Boy” that kept the audience stomping, clapping, and whistling along with their favorite hedonistic ditties.
Some of the band’s slower tempo songs like “Diamond Ring” and “Broken Cowboy” even elicited a few hoots and hollers from the sold-out crowd. The concert coincidentally featured supporting band “The Hooten Hallers” and opening act Danny Olliver.
“The Dead South” closed out their encore with crowd favorite foot-stomper’ “Banjo Odyssey” which contains a catchy, tongue-in-cheek refrain with a questionable backwoods punk-rock spirit.
Students can find “The Dead South” wherever they stream music. Their music is also available on CD and vinyl. They can be found at TheDeadSouth.com