Saturday, July 27, 2013

Dead Men's Hollow


Over the past twelve years the Baltimore /DC area band Dead Men's Hollow has been putting out their own brand of bluegrass/folk.  Here's what Caryn Fox (vocals/mandolin) had to say when I touched base with her recently.

MK - Can you give me a little background on history of Dead Men's Hollow?
CF - This is from our website, and is pretty accurate:
Dead Men’s Hollow began as an impromptu backyard pick n’ sing in the summer of 2001. Several hundred shows later, the group is now a well-established regional band. Dead Men’s Hollow performs at a wide range of venues from churches, bars, wineries, and festivals to fine arts halls such as Strathmore and the Kennedy Center.
Dead Men’s Hollow draws its influences from bluegrass, country, blues, and gospel. The result is a unique sound of tight harmony vocals backed by traditional bluegrass instrumentation: fiddle, banjo, mandolin, upright bass, and guitar. The group’s repertoire comprises a vast array of original and traditional music, encompassing the early centuries of America’s musical history as well as modern tales of love and loss.
The group has recorded four commercially released CDs and has tracks on numerous compilation CDs, appeared on national television, received 20 Washington Area Music Association “Wammie” Award nominations, won six Wammie Awards—including Best Bluegrass Group and Bluegrass Album of the Year—and continues to be played on radio programs around the world.
MK - With Angel's Share you released your first gospel CD. What made you decide to go in that direction for that release?
CF - People have been asking us for *years* to put out a gospel CD – fans, show attendees, radio hosts, just about everyone. We felt strongly, however, that if we put out a gospel CD it would have to be something classically Dead Men’s Hollow. So, that’s just what we did. You’ll find that on Angels’ Share nearly all songs are original and nearly all songs are non-denominational (there is one traditional, which is also the one that has a Christian-based message). As a group, we are focused more on spirituality than religion, per se, and feel strongly about writing and playing our own original music. We are quite proud to have Angels’ Share reflect who we are in those ways.
MK - How does the songwriting process for the band usually work?
CF - We used to put out “band challenges” to write a song about one thing or another. We also used to write more songs as a group. Now, we usually write songs on our own (or two people together) and bring them to the group for tweaking, arranging, or simply for adding to our repertoire.
MK - How would you say the band has evolved since your debut?
CF - When the band began in July 2001, we were an alt-country band with drums and electric guitar. We quickly morphed into an acoustic group with no drums, all acoustic instruments, and a much heavier emphasis on original and traditional music. In January of 2004, with a new sound and some new players (Marcy on fiddle, Amy on vocals, and Bob Peirce on bass) we played our first all-acoustic show (at Jammin’ Java) and never looked back. Since that show, our only personnel change has been to bring in Jared Creason on bass (Bob lives near Annapolis and the drive got too difficult. We’re all still very close, and Bob fills in sometimes if Jared is unavailable).
MK - I've been reading on your facebook and website that you've been recording some songs for a Christmas album. What's the status on that?
CF - Yes! This release was a pleasant surprise. A group in Front Royal, VA called National Media Services did the mastering on Angels’ Share. It was such a great fit for both organizations that NMS approached us about recording a series of Christmas songs to send out as their annual Holiday CD Card. This card is always a CD, but is usually a compilation of groups/individuals that record there. We were honored to be offered the opportunity to be the single artist on this year’s CD. We said “yes”!
The Holiday CD Card went out in December. We are now in the process of revisiting some of the songs to do some tweaking/reworking/re-recording and we plan to release our own Christmas CD this year (2012). **A Dead Men's Christmas has now been released and is available on itunes and cdbaby.
MK - Angel's Share has been out for a little over a year now. Besides your Christmas CD do you have another release in the works yet and if so what can we expect?
CF - While nothing solid is in the works, we’ve discussed a variety of ideas for our next release. Stay tuned!
MK - With Angel's Share you won a Wammie (Washington Area Music Award) in 2010 for Bluegrass Recording. How was it to get that recognition?
CF - We are always thrilled and honored to get that level of recognition by our peers. Wonderful!
MK - Are any of you in any side projects or other bands?
CF - Several of us play in other capacities, either as pick-up musicians in other bands or on other musicians’ records or on other side projects. In fact, every one of us has had *some* side project at some point. We strongly support and encourage this! As musicians, getting out there and playing – in any capacity – is kind of what life is all about.
MK - Is there anything else you would like to share with readers?
CF - We play out regularly – once or twice a month. We’re easy to find ( and ticket prices are usually quite reasonable. We’d love to see readers’ faces at an upcoming show!

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