Song Premiere: Jon Stickley Trio, "Bluegrass in the Backwoods"

by Kelly McCartney (@theKELword), Folk Alley

Jon Stickley Trio Folk Alley Song Premiere
photo by Sandlin Gaither

When listening to instrumental acoustic music, it can be far too easy to have a short attention span, drifting off into other thoughts as they pass through the air. A few ensembles make that darn near impossible, though: Hawktail, for one. And the Jon Stickley Trio, for two. Both groups fold all manner of influences into every piece, even when you don't necessarily realize it.

For “Bluegrass in the Backwoods,” Stickley and company turned a classic fiddle tune by Kenny Baker into a world of its own and letting Lyndsay Pruett soar on through it. The flavors of European Gypsy Jazz are right up front, as her fingers fly over Hunter Deacon's solid drum groove — yet another departure from your standard bluegrass fare.

“It was only a matter of time before we worked up this song, and I’m so glad we did,” Stickley says. “The tune captures one of the coolest aspects of bluegrass: Its ability to naturally incorporate other genres and styles. It’s easy to hear the influences of Gypsy Jazz, and even Bebop, in the phasing of the melody.”

About a third of the way in, Stickley steps up to dazzle with his own seemingly impossible fret work over Deacon's off-kilter rhythm's before putting it all back in the pocket. Then, around the 3:30 mark, Pruett and Stickley blaze a tandem path heading toward the finish line.

“When developing this song for the Trio, we wanted to stick to the melody as much as possible, paying tribute to the original composition,” Stickley offers. “We viewed the original melody through our own rhythmic lens and just ran with it. The result landed in country-Latin territory, and we like to think Kenny would have been happy with it.”

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Upcoming tour dates:

DEC 14, 2019: ROUND HILL, VA, B Chord Brewing Co

DEC 19, 2019: CHARLOTTE, NC, Heist Brewing (w/ Old Salt Union)

DEC 20, 2019: ASHEVILLE, NC, The Grey Eagle (w/ Old Salt Union)

DEC 21, 2019: CARRBORO, NC, Cat’s Cradle

DEC 22, 2019: LEXINGTON, NC, High Rock Outfitters

DEC 28, 2019: GREENVILLE, SC, The Firmament

JAN 24, 2020: LEXINGTON, KY, The Burl

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