Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The All-Togethers - Ridge Runner

As I said in my live review, The All-Togethers traveled from Virginia to Las Vegas to bring us their brand of prohibition-era, "hillbilly-jazz". Fronted by Ken Osborne on acoustic guitar, banjo and mandolin with lovely wife Cindy on stand-up bass and old friend Brian Phillips on minimalist drums and washboard they look and sound like a combo you would have seen in a 1920's nightclub, singing about hooch-drinkin' and sinnin'.

The banjo takes the forefront on many of the tunes, though with the magic of modern, multi-tracking technology, Ken adds guitar and mandolin for a fuller sound. Utilizing his 4-string banjo in a rhythmic, New Orleans/Dixieland-jazz-strumming style, this keeps the song moving and gives it an old-timey feel. Ken and Cindy both have strong voices and the harmonies are truly lovely.

The songs range from the cryptically-titled "I Heard You Paint Houses" (I keep wondering if this is some old saying that I'm not familiar with) to the Dixieland of "So What?" to the sorrowful "The Monotone of Promises" with some nice, emotive violin work (I'm guessing this is Cindy, as mistress of the 4-strings). "Hangover Stomp" tells an obvious tale of regret and woe with guitar and a metronome-ish banjo keeping time. Things get a bit weird with "Thump Keg Waltz", a drunken sounding instrumental in which Ken apparently loosened all of his guitar strings to give the tune a feeling of being recorded underwater!

The mandolin is pulled out for "Old Fashioned Lie" and back to banjo for "Lonely Road", both tunes getting a lead melodies from the respective instruments. "When the Night Comes" is a noir-ish, minor-key tune with a fairly disturbing lyrical story, proving that banjo doesn't always equate happiness! But the closing "Sunday Morning Trail" does end things on a lighter, mandolin-driven note.

The All-Togethers give Vegas a truly unique sound and vision, which is always welcome in any town. As often as they play, most likely you will stumble upon them at some point - but you should be sure to make it a priority to see them - so buy them a drink and ask them to tell you a tale and sing you a song. You won't be sorry!

You can view their video for their song "Points for Honesty" here.