Considering that most of the current members of Mountain Heart were mere kids when the band formed in 1998, the upcoming release of Blue Skies, the first record from the band in half a decade, promises to give Josh Shilling (guitar, piano and lead vocals), Molly Cherryholmes (fiddle and vocals), Seth Taylor (lead guitar and banjo), Aaron Ramsey (mandolin and vocals) and Jeff Partin (bass and vocals) a chance to show the world what their Mountain Heart sounds like. Any slot in the lineup of the iconic band proves big shoes to fill, as the group has performed at the Grand Ole Opry well over 100 times, and shared stages with a veritable who’s who in country music, from the Punch Brothers, Levon Helm and Alison Krauss to Lynyrd Skynyrd and George Jones, but if anyone is up to the challenge, it’s this talented new crew, ready to push the boundaries of bluegrass for a new, young audience.
Today, Elmore is sharing a live recording of “The Bad Grounds,” filmed in White’s Mercantile, singer/songwriter Holly Williams’ store in Nashville. Josh Shilling says of the track, “With a stage full of soulful singers and songwriters that carefully chip away at each lyric written for each song, it’s sometimes hard to remember that Mountain Heart is known for its instrumental abilities. The recorded version of “The Bad Grounds” features everyone ripping through the melody of the song and experimenting with their own Jam-friendly flare. We recorded this album completely live in the studio, and that approach allowed us to really capture our synergy and live show dynamics. This track definitely has bluegrass and jazz roots with a powerful, relentless rhythm section, and a piano interlude that takes the song way beyond the anticipated boundaries.” In the live recording, you truly get that sense of a rollicking jam session, and by then end, the players seem caught off guard by their own hard driving fervor. Standing in a circle, the group members feed off each other’s energy and virtuosic playing on the all-instrumental track, and though Ramsey’s mandolin soars dynamically on the melody, they keep a fine balance from start to finish. Looks like we can expect great things from this Mountain Heart.
Blues Skies is out via Compass Records on May 6th, and you can preorder a copy on the band’s website.