THE WHISKEY TREATY ROAD SHOW – Band Together (own label)

Band TogetherBand Together is an album that came to me out of the blue. First impressions – with a name like The Whiskey Treaty Road Show they’ve got to be an up-tempo American band, probably Americana/Country genre; my guess was the South but actually they’re from Western Massachusetts.

You can hear for yourself that their name really does tap into something in terms of preconceptions – the link below takes you to ‘Pass The Peace’. The opening acoustic guitar and vocal (a vocal that grabs your attention) rapidly moves into a band sound, grander than standard Americana: a trumpet that plays echoes-of-soul-music, a flash of lead guitar, harmonies that are pretty damned fine.

The album might have been an unexpected arrival in the post but I’m interested. Track two, ‘Don’t Cross My Land’ does something rather special. It’s in effect a monologue from a man defending, from road-building, the land his family built. The voice is that of a man you meet in a bar who stands upright and repeats “No Sir, No Sir…My family built it with their hands and I don’t expect you to understand” I can picture him in my head. That makes it pretty good lyric-story-telling; the music is just as sassy as the man – the harmonies are aggressive, the music loud in support. This is pretty interesting song-writing.

I read around the band. The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow formed in 2016, five Massachusetts singer-songwriters working together to create what they call “in the vein of Americana, rock and roots-folk music”. Individually, they have a strong back-story, together they turn it into folk-rock which (I read and can well imagine) goes down well at festivals. Add to this that they have played alongside Kristofferson, Los Lobos, The Felice Brothers and that Band Together has guest appearances from Arlo Guthrie and members of Wilco and The Black Crowes and you can see that this is a band to be reckoned with.

The remainder of the album circles around this core Americana feel – but adds a bit. There are places on ‘Rose On The Vine’ where you think this is how the Stone Roses would play Americana, ‘Following Your Tears’ has a children’s chorus to it, ‘Reasons’ builds vocal harmonies, smashed hi-hat, harmonica and the brass sound that I suddenly discover all integrate really well with an Americana sound. ‘Rock And Roll Déjà Vu’ isn’t just lyrically about rock and roll, “Rock and roll was playing on the radio/ We used to turn it oh so loud, pedal to the floor/ Let the good times roll/ give me like déjà vu/I’m just glad to be here now singing loud with you”, the tune rocks and blasts out the lead guitar. ‘Perfect Day’ is banjo heavy picking, ‘I Bet The World’ a great country song (“I bet the world I love you/Times the ocean and the moon/and the sun and all the stars that shone/ from July into June”), ‘Lay Down Your Arms’ an anthemic closing track which I imagine is a great sing along at the festivals.

Overall, then, I’ve enjoyed Band Together – the song-writing and the mix of influences/styles in the playing and arrangement work really well. The band’s website shows a handful of gigs in eastern USA over the coming months.

Oh, yeah, it’s also rather good driving music…..

Mike Wistow

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‘Pass The Peace’ – live: