Tulsa, Oklahoma (December 11, 2018) – Splice Media Group recently had the opportunity to talk to Jesse Langlais, banjo player and vocalist for the group Town Mountain, as well as attend the sold out Cain’s Ballroom show that Town Mountain opened for Tyler Childers.
Arguably one of the hottest tickets of 2018, the Town Mountain/Tyler Childers show had been sold out for months, with fans checking in daily on the Cain’s Ballroom Facebook page to see if anyone had extra tickets for sale. It was no surprise that doors opened up an extra thirty minutes to allow for all the fans crowding into Cain’s to see these two talented acts put on one of the best shows of the year.
If you ask most Oklahomans what their favorite genre of music is, you’ll get mixed responses. Likely not many will list bluegrass as one of their favorites, so Town Mountain had their work cut out for them tonight, not only wow the crowd and get them ready for Tyler Childers, but also to win them over with their decidedly modern take on bluegrass music. Judging from the audience reaction to each song and to the end of the set, it would seem that Town Mountain was wildly successful.
Town Mountain is made up of Robert Greer (vocals and guitar) Jesse Langlais (vocals and banjo) Bobby Britt (fiddle), Zach Smith (stand-up bass) and Phil Barker (mandolin and vocals). Miles Miller, regular drummer for Sturgill Simpson, joined Town Mountain for the set. Miller played an important part in Town Mountain‘s latest album, New Freedom Blues, as it was the first time they had recorded a studio album with a drum set.
Playing a 15 song set mixed with songs from four of their six albums, the band moved from song to song with minimal stage banter, but kept the crowd engaged with songs like the set opener, “Tulsa Sounds Like Trouble to Me”, a cover of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band tune or “Coming on Back to You” from their 2016 album, Southern Crescent. Almost half of the songs came from their newest album, New Freedom Blues, which was just released in October. “North of Cheyenne”, “Tar Heel Boys”, “One Drop in the Bottle” and “Witch Trials” all come from that album, but one of the most popular songs from the album, “Down Low”, which includes vocals from Tyler Childers, was clearly the crowd favorite. Running up the steps to get on stage to join Town Mountain, the sight of Childers brought cheers from the crowd. Choosing to end the set with “Down Low” ensured the set ended on a high note. The blending of voices from Childers and Langlais, as well as the sweet sounds of the melancholy fiddle, make this song one that you’ll have in your head for days. The best part of Town Mountain is not the talent within the group, but the fact they aren’t your average bluegrass band. Moving beyond putting a modern spin on standard bluegrass classics, they’ve taken bluegrass and made it their own, adding a drum kit to their album and set is just the first step. If you haven’t had the chance already to check them out, you’ll want to. I’ve heard nothing but good things from friends who have caught their set on their recent tour with Tyler Childers.
You can find Town Mountain on tour throughout the rest of the winter and spring. Fine tour dates here.
Earlier this week, we caught up with Jesse Langlais of Town Mountain to ask a few questions about touring, their newest album and what they’re currently listening to.
Seems like you guys have been busy this year with your new album and touring, and besides the long drives what would you say are the best and worst parts of being on tour?
Obviously like you mentioned, the long drives are one of the most difficult parts of touring. Figuring out how you’re getting from one gig to another and whatever goes with that. We had a show in Virginia the other night and had to skirt around that huge snowstorm to avoid it and make our way to our next gig. Best parts of touring would just be being on stage, getting to play music you love with people you enjoy playing with.
If someone had never listened to a single song of yours, describe your sound in 3 words.
That’s a good question, I’ve heard the question before, but not phrased in that way. I think I’d go with honest country music.
Talk to me about your new album, New Freedom Blues. Besides bringing in a drummer for this album, how do you feel this album is different than your previous albums?
Well, as you mentioned we brought in a drummer, Miles Miller for this album. Another thing is when we come to the studio, we generally try to get songs to fit into a certain box or format and there are a lot of songs that go unused, because they don’t fit that format. But with this album, we didn’t try to get rid of songs that we normally wouldn’t put on an album. We wanted to try to put these on this album and make it work.
We’ve already touched on your collaboration with Tyler Childers, but who is a living artist in a different genre you would love to collaborate with?
Personally? Hmm.. Honestly, a lot of the people I’d probably be interested in collaborating with aren’t around anymore, but I’d have to say, Garth Hudson of The Band. I’m not sure how many people realize how innovative he was or how much of an impact he had on their sound.
Who are you currently listening to?
Well, it’s a lot of stuff pre-1979, but an exception would be Mac Miller. I got into some of his stuff a few months ago. Let me look at my recent downloads and just tell you. Neil Young, Rusty Kershaw, Leadbelly, that’s just a few I’ve been listening to lately.