ALBUM PREMIERE: Shovelin Stone lets bluegrass folk songs shine on “Summer Honey”
Shovelin Stone’s new album summer honey is an eleven-track bluegrass-folk soundtrack for the summer. Based in Denver with roots in the Colorado Rockies, Makenzie Willox (vocals, guitar, harmonica) Zak Thrall (banjo, guitar, vocals), Russick Smith (bass, cello, mandolin) and Brett Throgmorton (drums) recorded summer honey in Greenville, West Virginia in the heart of Appalachia with Grammy-winning producer Chance McCoy of the Old Crow Medicine Show.
summer honey is an album that strikes nostalgic chords touching universal themes. It’s “a lot of love a lot of life a little bit of God…the struggle to live in a godly way, whatever you want to call it.” The title track sets things up, introducing the members as their instruments come in one at a time with guitar, bass, banjo and drums each laying claim to a claim before Willox steps in with / tell me all the bad things you’ve done / tell me all the bad things you do for fun. / That’s pretty groovy for a bluegrass influenced acoustic band.
The recording quality is brilliant and presents an all the more impressive feat knowing that Shovelin Stone recorded most of these tracks standing around a mic and in one take. Registration summer honey this way the record is just rough enough to keep things interesting and capture the live sound that Shovelin Stone is known for.
summer honey releases August 19, just in time to soak up the last rays of summer sunshine, take a long drive, and listen to some Shovelin Stone. Today Slide is delighted to offer an exclusive premiere of the album in its entirety.
Moving from a soft groove to a classic folk theme, “Ain’t No Shooting Star” takes a depressing turn into minor territory with the story of a man locked up for killing an innocent man / Well, I wrote the whole thing. at night and I don’t know what’s worse/ soul that’s been locked away/ or your burning heart/ sorry for the writing/ that jolt to my nerves/
“Note to Self” adds a bit of harmonica to an early folk revival track. It is a millennial anthem of the first order. “Drunk When I Get There” is reminiscent of the folk ballad “Poor Wayfaring Stranger” but with the premise that the singer may foreshadow the afterlife, which is a fun twist / If the whiskey is gonna kill me / At least I will be drunk when i go there/. This is fatalistic optimism.
“WingSong” is a delicate melody that slips between a light shuffle in the verse, then opens up in the chorus as Throgmorton’s drums die out and Willox sings /I’ve slowed down all my life/ and thinks about a lot of things / like how we all want to soar so high / but no one has wings /. “No Good At Waiting” is a really enjoyable bluegrass track with Thrall’s banjo and Willox’s guitar in perfect sync to create tightly interwoven melodies.
Listen to the album and read our conversation with the band below…
How did Shovelin Stone start?
One of our favorite stories to tell. Zak and I had become very good friends while Zak was playing college football. We had a mutual friend who played college football with Zak. I was still in high school at the time, but I would come to their house just to hang out. From there jams took place and memories were made, especially over several years at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. After many great moments, Zak finally graduated from college and flew around the world for many years. Live in Canada, Australia and everywhere in between. Eventually landing in Austin, Texas.
Meanwhile, I (Makenzie) stayed home in Fort Collins, CO, viciously writing songs and working on guitar. I heard Zak moved to the live music capital of the world and immediately moved to live on his couch and pursue a career in music. Many jams later and a growing response from the outside world, Shovelin Stone was born.
After returning to Colorado, the stages seemed to get bigger and the crowds bigger. We felt like we needed a bigger sound. Through many lucky events, we were able to add multi-instrumentalist Russick Smith and rock drummer Brett Throgmorton to the family!
Tracking an album live can be a lot of fun or a lot of stress (or both). What was your experience recording Summer Honey? Would you like to record again like this?
I think the live tracking was super fun because it really captured what we wanted, which was our live sound. We were really looking for raw live sound, so what you hear on the record is what we sound like live. And being in the middle of Appalachia like that was awesome because of the lack of distraction there was. It felt like we could focus on getting exactly what we were looking for in that sense. We loved that style a lot or recorded a ton, but when it comes to doing it again, I think there’s always room to grow and improve from what we’ve learned in this process. recording.
Lots of multi-instrumentalists in the band. Is there an instrument you can’t walk past without playing?
Russick plays the most instruments in the band and no, there’s always something in this guy’s hands. Practice and play constantly. But that’s what makes him so talented and his ability to play so many different instruments.
What is the songwriting process like for Shovelin Stone?
This songwriting process starts with me (Makenzie) working on the words and chords. Then I bring it to the band to see if first they like the song and then what they can add too, whether it’s the timing or the structure or even the breaks. We say it’s like I draw the outline in the coloring book and then we color it as a group.
Is there a track on the album that you’re particularly proud of?
I can’t speak for the band but I would say we’re all pretty proud of the song Note To Self. This song is really fun for us to play live and has a lot of dynamics with its ups and downs and chants at the end. The message behind it is just to relax more or less in life, not to be so judgmental and just try to be nice to each other. I think overall we made a really fun record and we were thrilled that it was finally making its debut!
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