Split Lip Rayfield
From the blood-red heart of Kansas, Split Lip Rayfield is going stronger than ever.
It’s completely fair to call these guys legends. It’s been more than 20 years since they first mashed up their aggressive stew of acoustic bluegrass instrumentation, tight country vocals, fierce metal shred and in-your-face punk sensibilities. One observer said we all “owe them a huge debt for not only defining a sound, but stretching the possibilities of the acoustic music world. Fans of Flatt & Scruggs and Metallica could find a common tent to party under.”
So yeah, they virtually invented “thrashgrass.” But then they kept right on moving as their chops, songs and selves grew stronger from hard-won experience. Following the 2007 death of their beloved bandmate and founder Kirk Rundstrom, SLR reinvented itself by simply staying the course and continuing to playing hundreds of shows. And now, after five studio records and a handful of live recordings, Split Lip Rayfield has just released “On My Way.” (Release date January 1, 2017)
The new album highlights the powerful songwriting talents of banjo innovator Eric Mardis and mandolin renegade Wayne Gottstine, while bassist Jeff Eaton holds it all down with his hand-built one-string Stitchgiver.
All of that old-school invention and energy is intact, and they still stomp the living hell out of a stage. But their songs keep getting better, and their sound is sneakier and smarter than ever. “Split Lip Rayfield is still the same band with the same ideals that we’ve had for years,” said Gottstine. “But we’re more diverse, sound-wise, than we have ever been before.”
Their fans know this: Split Lip Rayfield truly delivers. Every record is a revelation, and every concert is an unforgettable experience. Don’t miss these guys.
Al Scorch grew up in Chicago, with its storied history of corrupt power at the top and righteous fighters and big dreamers at the bottom. From the town that gave the world characters like Studs Terkel, Upton Sinclair, and the anarchists in Bughouse Square, Scorch adds his voice to the choir with the enthusiasm and charisma of a Maxwell Street preacher. He eyes the prize of that ever-elusive promised land that’s worth scrapping for, wherever or whatever it may be. With a stentorian bullhorn of a voice, he exhorts, not with a holy book in his hand, but a banjo and guitar. He’s a messenger and a conduit, a believer that a soul-stirring song will march you forward.
A punk rock banjo-wielding John Prine or Billy Bragg, Al Scorch writes for the everyperson. Through his acrobatically poetic politics, hopeful tales of love lost (“Love After Death”), or cathartic takes on urban chaos (“City Lullaby”), he pens rowdy campfire stories, calls for action, and draws the epic from the ordinary. Celebrate, right a wrong, or find your path and go for it. It’s heavy shit, but so is life.
Tom “Soda” Gardocki spent years playing guitar in SoCal rockers Wax (go rewatch the credits of Mallrats; the band plays right after its pals Weezer) but more recently he’s devoted himself to more rustic purposes.
Either performing with his Large Band, his “Million Piece Band,” or solo with his 12-string banjo (like on the The South Congress Session bootleg, recently released by Hillgrass Bluebilly Records), Soda’s twangy voice hints ever-so-slightly at his punk past.