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There may be at least as many bluegrass/string bands in the area as there are breweries, but that shouldn’t be a reason to ignore Black River Revue. As far as the genre goes, they have put together a very solid album with their new CD “Garbage Pickin.” The band has gradually grown over the years and they do their music for all the right reasons. It’s undeniable that the vibe they create is something that can be easy to get behind.
Anyone who is a true musician in the area knows that Bev Robinson, owner of Bev’s Jook Joint in Superior, has always catered to up and coming talent. Black River Revue started as front man and guitar player, Adam Stariha, playing with his friend Ryan Le Bard at open mics in the area. Eventually they started playing gigs specifically at Bev’s Jook. “She was the first person to ever offer us a show. She has always been very supportive of Black River and other music I’ve done. She is the best. We also had gotten much help from Jason Wussow down at Beaner’s Central. He was another person that really helped get things off the ground and helped us get our feet we so to speak,” said Stariha.
The most notable thing about this album is that although the album lyrically deals with the themes of relationship troubles and getting by in life, it’s still fun. The bouncing and light hearted song “Oh No!” flows along with a nice bass line that is played by Ian Kvale and the added instruments provided by Stariha, Joe Berg (washboard/percussion), Nate Hynum (mandolin) and Kailyn Spencer (fiddle) flow along wonderfully. Spencer doesn’t actually seem to be on the track “Oh No!” but the tracks she is on, she nails the sound down with a doubt.
With songs like “Time Rolls On,” the pace is steady and upbeat and the harmonica by Stariha and fiddle by Spencer. The album rolls on wonderfully with a skillful, well balanced and solid mix of traditional sounds that are heightened by Hynum on mandolin. After a number of gigs at Bev’s and elsewhere the group has crafted their own sound. Although it’s similar to some acts out there, it’s fair to say that they are doing there own thing and they are having fun doing it and make it hard to not appreciate what they have going on.
Sometime instrumentals can detract from an album by creating a lull or just seeming a bit out of place. In this album the instrumentals fit with feel of the album and carries along with the flow of the album perfectly. Track three on the album is titled “Garbage Pickin” and it perhaps shows a taste of what the group is all about. The instrumentals where written by Hynum, while the rest of the songs were put together by Stariha. “The name ‘Garbage Pickin’ had come out of the same trip out to Colorado as the Popcorn Sutton story ha ha. We had just rolled into Denver after a long drive with no A/C on an extremely hot day. We decided to go to the Denver skatepark and skate for a while but first we wanted to swim. Long story short we ended up wading in the North Platte River that we later found out was a river that you really don’t want to swim in due to pollution. So for the rest of the trip we cracked jokes about swimming in a garbage river and we had even been deemed “Garbage Pickers” from some friends at the festival. Nate was working on an instrumental at the time and by the end of the trip we only thought it be appropriate to name it ‘Garbage Pickin.’ noted Stariha on the album’s title.
As far as the instruments go on the album, they are well placed in the mix. The album is fun to listen to with a constant bouncy jangle. Sometimes it seems that the back up vocals could have used a little more push, but this is a very small thing to the overall feel and tone of the album. The album was recorded at Full Circle Studios in Corcoran, MN. “Recording with Full Circle was awesome. I was very fortunate to be friends with the talented Matt Bombich from right here in Superior. Matt along with Steve Murray and Jake Shoulak own the studio down in Corcoran, MN. They really take what they do seriously and pour their heart and souls into it. Matt worked really hard with us and seeing as it was the first time in a studio for a few of us he made it really comfortable and laid back, which makes the whole process not only productive but really fun at the same time,” said Stariha.
The group will be celebrating their CD release at Fitger’s Brewhouse this Saturday, June 29. Also playing in the same building will be The Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank, another bluegrass style band that has shared the stage with Black River Revue. “We have been really lucky to play with them a handful of times including up at Lutsen this winter which was a blast. Their new CD has been spinning in truck basically non stop since I got it,” said Stariha.
Overall, “Garbage Pickin” is an excellent display of musicianship and fun songwriting. Although the lyrics aren’t always the happiest, it’s matched by a constant upbeat flow that overrides any hint of darkness. You’ll want to stomp your feet, you’ll be able to sing along after a few listens. For those into the bluegrass/string band genre, it’s hard to go wrong with “Garbage Pickin.”