Last night I saw an amazing live show. It was at a local club once made famous but a skinny little guy in purple tights. The band was Split Lip Rayfield.
I first saw them when the opened up for The Drive-By Truckers a few years ago. At that time I had no idea what to expect but with a name like that it was worth a try. Since then I’ve seen them several times and I am continually blown away.
SLR hails from Lawrence, KS and sounds like a cross between Metallica and The Del McCoury Band. With four part harmonies at breakneck tempo, their music is firmly rooted in the bluegrass tradition but their influences are clearly more punk-rock in nature. With song titles such as Redneck Tailgate Dream, C’mon Get Your Gun, 3.2 Flu and How Many Biscuits Can You Eat? they have figured out how to tap the age-old themes of country music and bring them into the 21st century.
The line-up consists of:
- Kirk Rundstrom (guitar) - with the armload of tattoos and creepy Deliverance stare he looks like he’d just as soon smash the guitar over your head than play it. But play it he can.
- Eric Mardis (banjo) - This guy won’t be getting a day-job playing the banjo at Shakey’s Pizza any time soon. He does things with the banjo that Roy Clark wishes he could do.
- Wayne Gottstine (mandolin) - This guy surely must have had a motor and ball joint surgically implanted in his wrist. He can move his hand so fast that it is literally a blur.
- Jeff Eaton (one-string gas tank bass) – With a body made from the gas tank of a '65 Ford and one string of weed whip line, this guy is an entire rhythm section onto himself.
Together these guys whip up more energy than any band I’ve seen in a long time. While their CDs are good they pale in comparison to the live shows.
Unfortunately their days are numbered. Earlier this year guitarist Kirk Rundstrom was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. Although he identifies music as the thing that makes him the happiest he has decided to retire from performing to concentrate in his health. The band is taking one last run before hanging up SLR for good.
Don’t miss your chance to see these guys before they are gone.
And donate some money to the Kirk Rundstrom Cancer Fund too.