Hailing from Asheville, North Carolina, Town Mountain is the sum of all its vast and intricate influences — this bastion of alt-country rebellion and honky-tonk attitude pushed through the hardscrabble Southern Appalachian lens of its origin.
“For us, it’s all about the interaction between the audience and the band — doing whatever we can onstage to facilitate that two-way street of energy and emotion,” says mandolinist Phil Barker. “Whether it’s a danceable groove or a particular lyric in a song, we’re projecting what we’re going through in our daily lives, and we feel that other people can attest to that, as well — it’s all about making that connection.”
Amid a renewed sense of self is the group’s latest album, “Lines in the Levee,” a collage of sound and scope running the gamut of the musical spectrum in the same template of freedom and focus found in the round-robin fashion of the musical institution that is The Band — a solidarity also found in the incendiary live shows Town Mountain is now revered for from coast-to-coast, this devil-may-care gang of strings and swagger.
“This is the sound we’ve been working towards since the inception of the band,” says guitarist Robert Greer. “We realized we needed to do what’s best for us. We’re being true to ourselves. It isn’t a departure, it’s an evolution — the gate is wide open right now.”
“We’ve always had such a reverence and respect for those first and second-generation bluegrass bands, and it was that sound that initially inspired all of us to get together,” Barker adds. “And that will always be part of our sound. But, we also need to grow as artists, and as individuals — for us, that means bringing in a wider palette of sonic influences.”
Formed by Greer and banjoist Jesse Langlais over 15 years ago on a ridge high above the Asheville skyline, the sturdy foundation of Town Mountain came into play with the addition of Barker not long into the band’s tenure. From there, the group pulled in fiddle virtuoso Bobby Britt and bassist Zach Smith. And though the road has been long, it’s also been bountiful.
“It’s definitely been a slow climb. But, it’s been a climb nonetheless, where each new opportunity is filled with a sense of gratitude — to be able to make music, to be able to play music with your friends,” Barker says. “And to be able to bring music to the people, and have them want to show up and listen to it? Well, we’re thankful for that every single day.”