San Francisco, CA -- The Earl Brothers, based in San Francisco and led by banjo master Robert Earl Davis, have been delving into the dark side of bluegrass for more than a decade now, and their fifth and latest album, Outlaw Hillbilly, takes them further down that rough road with songs like “Troubles,” “Cold and Lonesome,” and “When the Lovin’s All Over,” and grisly lines like “I stabbed her dear brother and cut off his head, and buried him deep so I knew he was dead.”
They’re not a good time bluegrass band – they’re more interested in exploring the really bad times – but their music, like the blues, has that paradoxical effect of taking you so deep into the mire that you come out feeling a little better than you did before. “Their music is bare-bones bluegrass, without even the hint of anything more modern than 1965!
These guys are very talented musicians, vocalists, and songwriters, but their sound is raw,” says the website Country Standard Time, which praises their “terrific new album” as “jarring in its intensity” and “simply the next step in the steady progression of a band that continues to gain ground within the bluegrass community.”
The band features James Touzel on bass and vocals, Tom Lucas on fiddle and vocals, Thomas Wille on guitar and vocals, and Robert on banjo and vocals. Special guests Jody Richardson on fiddle and Kyle Patrick O’Brien on mandolin will join the band for tonight’s show. Truth be told, there’s only one Earl in the bunch, and none of them are related, but they play together like brothers.
Their raw and ravaged sound brings to mind Ralph Stanley at his bleakest – and that’s a good thing! “The Earl Brothers have got the soul and the songs and the attitude that brought us all into bluegrass music in the first place,” says Chris Hillman of the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers. “Their songs cry of the mountains, of the people, and of the traditions down through the ages. Bluegrass music is alive and well.”