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Someday Coming Round

In which a third compilation of deviant twang is delivered

By Peter Koht

Sometimes the best projects are born of some fairly crappy circumstances. "I broke my leg carrying laundry down the stairs," Paul Davis says with a sheepish smile. "I couldn't work for four months, so I was looking for anything that would occupy my time." Davis, the frontman for the local cow-punk group Mule Train, decided to spend his ambulatory moments putting together his third compendium of deviant twang, this one named Someday Coming Round. (The existence of two other compilations, Tastes like Burning and Someday Coming Down, is also Davis' fault.)

Local stalwarts Mule Train and The Devil Makes Three are joined on the record by a number of groups, including Salinas' Rum and Rebellion, the Jewgrass Boys from San Francisco and Portland's Clampitt, Gaddis and Buck.

What's the uniting factor among these groups? George Sanchez of Rum and Rebellion believes that this particular scene is populated by "grizzled old punks that mellowed out a bit and wanted to branch out musically. They probably like hanging out Friday night with a pint and listening to records." In regard to the whole punk aesthetic that permeates these groups' songs, Sanchez thinks that there is "not as much aggression as punk rock, but the feeling is still there."

Paul Davis concurs. "Listen to Cooper McBean from The DM3 play banjo, it's basically death metal riffs."

"Yeah," McBean grins. "I try to put as much of that stuff in there as the others will let me."

Deriding the mainstream alt-country movement as "hipsters playing John Mellancamp," Davis says he looked for bands whose new approach to the music belies the traditions that their instruments and songs form from‹even when it's off the wall.

David Wurzburg, one half of the Jewgrass Boys, plays pretty traditional, but not exactly straight, mandolin on his band's tunes. These songs cover a number of themes, including murder ballads, ironic Christian tunes and a tune called "Porn," which, appropriately enough, "relates the cultural assimilation of the Semitic people with the pornography culture of Southern California."

Summing it up, Sanchez says, "Ideologically we all come from the DIY background. We can bang out a couple of chords and write about our experience, and in that way our own voice comes through, so we can tell our own stories and build a community." The beautifully ironic thing is that this process is a repeat of the founding of the bluegrass genre, which was once derided by mainstream country audiences as being ignorantly fast and reckless.

"I read this interview that was in Punk Planet a few years ago with [legendary bluegrass musician] Hazel Dickens," McBean says. "In it, she was describing the early days of bluegrass. She gave a description of a typical show. It would be in a living room with a few cases of beer and people would dance till dawn. Sounds like most punk rock shows I've ever been to."

Someday Coming Round Record Release Party. Saturday, July 16, at 9pm at the Poet and Patriot, 320 Cedar St., Santa Cruz, featuring Clampitt, Gaddis and Buck, the Younger Brothers and Boaz Vilozny. Admission is free. (831.426.8620)

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From the July 13-20, 2005 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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