The Dead South champion old-fashioned sounds through new-fangled means | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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The Dead South champion old-fashioned sounds through new-fangled means


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Don’t let the name fool you—the Dead South are actually from the far north. Regina, Saskatchewan, to be exact. Over the course of three albums of hardscrabble folk and bluegrass the group have built up a following through the most modern of methods, including viral videos like “Banjo Odyssey,” which follows them as they literally bring on their show on the road, serenading Toronto from the bed of a moving truck. Despite their 21st-century digital media savvy, the product they’re pushing was built the old-fashioned way, through developing their musicianship and immersing themselves in the North American string-band tradition, in all its bloodstained glory. Are the members of the Dead South hipster hair farmers playing retro for the artisanal distillery crowd? Absolutely. But they’re also irresistible, and they earn their keep with truly distinctive touches, such as metal-inflected banjo and “fiddling” on a cello (the band’s cellists, Danny Kenyon and Erik Mehlsen, have been known to strap the instrument across their bodies like a guitar). They’re road dogs with a flexible auxiliary cast depending on who’s available, and while their albums hit hard, they butter their bread onstage.   v

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