Eric Brace, Peter Cooper, Thomm Jutz review…February 1, 2019….

ERIC BRACE, PETER COOPER, THOMM JUTZ

RIVERLAND

RED BEET RECORDS   RBECD0024

RIVER CITY–KING OF THE KEELBOAT MEN–DOWN ALONG THE RIVER–DROWNED AND WASHED AWAY–TOM T. AND BROTHER WILL–MISSISSIPPI MAGIC–IN THE PRESENCE OF THE RIVER–SOUTHERN MULE–TO BE A STEAMBOAT MAN–AS FAR AS I CAN SEE–IT MIGHT BE HOLLYWOOD–UNEASY DOES IT–FORT DEFIANCE–MISSISSIPPI, REST MY SOUL

Eric Brace hails from Washing ton, D. C., Peter Cooper is from South Carolina, and Thomm Jutz grew up in the Black Forest of Germany.  Wouldn’t you know it?—all three ended up in Tennessee, and made an album dealing with all things Mississippi!  Yep—their latest collaboration is a true “concept album,” a sho’ nuff rarity these days, appropriately-entitled “Riverland,” for Red Beet Records.  It is thirteen originals and one cool cover that brings to life the good, bad, and, sometimes ugly, history of Mississippi

We’ve been familiar with the music of Eric and Peter for several years, and even had the good fortune to see and hear them live in Ted Drozdowski’s living room a few summers ago.  On this set, both are on acoustic guitar and vocals, while Thomm adds distinctive Resonator guitar and vocals.  The album is a combination of folk, blues, and Americana, dealing with many aspects of life in Mississippi and along the mighty river.

The harmonies on this album are beautifully-arranged, as is the instrumentation.  and, there are numerous highlights.  Check out the tale of Mike Fink,  “the Last Of The Keelboat Men,” who was “half wild horse, half swamp gator,” with mandolin from Mike Compton.  Alas, the keelboat men gave way to Fulton’s steamboat, and “To Be A Steamboat Man,” written by Thomm and Eric, is based on works from both Mark Twain and John Hartford, two more men whose lives were connected by the fascination of the river.  “Down Along The River in ’63” details the fall of Vicksburg to Grant on July 4, 1863, and is he reason many Mississippians fail to celebrate a holiday on that day.  “Drowned And Washed Away” has a bluesy vibe enhanced by Thomm’s Resonator work, and tells the harrowing story of the destruction in the South from the Great Flood Of 1927.

Our favorite was the collaboration written by Peter and Rev. Will D. Campbell, “Mississippi Magic.”  Campbell was a Bible-toting, Scripture-quoting friend of Tom T. Hall who despised all institutions, yet loved all people, no matter who they were or what they stood for.

Altho neither Eric, Peter, or Thomm were from Mississippi, they all feel the draw of a good song, the pull of the great river, and the many wonders that make up Mississippi.  “Riverland” goes down smooth, like time passing with a bottle of sour mash.  Until next time…Don and Sheryl Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

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