This could be a really cool project.
Honky-tonker, songwriter, and master carpenter J.P. Harris has been at or near the top of the heap of cool independent country guys for years, and now he’s decided to delve deep into his roots of traditional Appalachian mountain music for his next album entitled Don’t You Marry No Railroad Man, and teamed up with none other than Chance McCoy previously of Old Crow Medicine Show in a collaborative project he calls, J.P. Harris’ Dreadful Wind & Rain.
To be released on Free Dirt Records on June 25th, J.P. Harris says about it, “For many years prior to my country career, I built and played fretless old time banjos, finding community in the somewhat-forgotten world of Appalachian stringband music. One of the enduring friendships from those days is with my dear friend Chance McCoy, who engineered, produced, and fiddled on this album, at his homestead in the remote mountains of southeastern West Virginia in the summer of 2020.”
“This is old time music,” J.P. continues.“It’s not polished or pitch-perfect, it’s not tailored for radio airplay…this is me at my truest and rawest, singing songs of death, deceit, and the devil from the 18th and 19th centuries, playing an archaic and outdated style of banjo. Some of y’all may like it and some of y’all won’t, but it’s honest.”
This is what you get in the album’s first track and video, “Closer to the Mill (Going to California)” filmed with Chance McCoy at Cook’s Old Mill in Greenville, WV (see below), which is not far from the Hunter Springs Studio in Greenville where the album was recorded.
“The lyrical portion of this I heard on an unlabeled cassette tape years ago, later to learn it was an album titled ‘Cornbread Willie’ by The Bristol Brothers. The instrumental arrangement is from a tune recorded by banjo master Reed Martin titled ‘Off To California,’ from the Young Fogies album compiled in the 1980’s by The New Lost City Ramblers.”
The whole album was recorded solely using fretless banjo, McCoy’s fiddle, and vocal harmonies—a far cry from the punchy and sometimes punk-infused honky tonk of J.P’s previous projects, but a welcomed detour to J.P.’s roots of underground fiddle gatherings where he cut his teeth.
The album is now available for pre-order.
1. House Carpenter
2. Closer to the Mill (Going to California)
3. Mole in the Ground
4. Country Blues
5. Last Chance
6. Old Bangum
7. Barbry Ellen
8. The Little Carpenter
9. Otto Wood
10. Wild Bill Jones