Review: Hammertowne

“In most cases, much forethought, planning, and sometimes recruiting, goes into forming a musical unit. But not in this case. This group of musicians gathered in a studio as session players on a solo effort, and something special transpired.

After the stop button had been hit on the first take of the first song, several seconds of complete silence filled the place, until finally from the control room came… “WOW.” The energy and musical compatibility was so strong, that the fellows decided they wanted to… TAKE IT OUTSIDE! Thus… HAMMERTOWNE was born!”

You normally would not start a review with a quote from the band’s own website, but when you experience this group’s energy and musical interaction your first response is going to be, “WOW!” Something special certainly describes what is going on here.

The band hails from northeast Kentucky and consists of Scot Tackett (guitar, lead vocals), previously in Kentucky Sunrise, Dale Evans & Riverbend, and The Bluegrass Strangers; Brent Pack (banjo) from Ernie Thacker & Route 23; Chaston “Chas” Carroll (mandolin, lead and harmony vocals), who was in his dad’s band, New River Line; Doug Burchett (bass, lead and harmony vocals), spending 3 years with Scott Tackett and Kentucky Sunrise, and 4 years with The Bluegrass Strangers; and Dave Carroll (guitar, lead and harmony vocals) from New River Line. Dave’s songs have been recorded by some of the most prominent artists in bluegrass music, such as The Lonesome River Band, Russell Moore & IIItd Time Out, Lou Reid & Carolina, Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice, Blue Moon Rising, and Ernie Thacker & Route 23.

For the short time they’ve been together they’ve been reaping great reviews, and won the 2012 B.O.R.N. (Band On The Rise Nationally) award from Bluegrass Nation (see their excellent interview with the band in the link at the end of this review).

Their first (self-titled) album has just come out, a mix of traditional, new, and homegrown songs. It says a lot about both their song choices, the superb song writing within the band, and the bands own powerful delivery that every song stands on it’s own. How do you pick a favorite song when the band nails every one of them? No “filler” here, that’s for sure! Using the old cliché and calling this band “tight” hardly begins to describe what’s going on here, both for their instrumentals and the vocal harmonies they weave together.

“Why Don’t You Tell Me So”

Hammertowne opens with the lilting ‘I’m Thinking You Don’t Love Me Anymore,” which epitomizes the traditional joyful sounding bluegrass broken heart and breakup songs.

“Cherokee Maiden” is their joyful banjo-driven love song and if it doesn’t get your feet tapping, you need to get your pulse checked! “Movin” is a quiet ballad that introduces the band’s sweet harmonies in a song about, yes, moving on. “This Old Martin Box” delves into some very tradition bluegrass, immediately followed by the stark, eerie sound of “Iver Johnson Is My Name,” the band went looking for the sound of a life coming to a doomed end, and this song will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

These songs will give you a taste of Hammertowne. The rest of the album delivers the same kind of wonderful bluegrass and soulful ballads that will stand with some of the best bluegrass you’ve ever heard, give them a listen!

Mountain Fever Records

Mark Hudson

Mark Hudson is a long time local HVBA member and music lover who, unfortunately, had to move away. He misses the local scene but will look for you at Greyfox!

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