V Rootsound Fest: The Pine Hill Haints
There aren’t many bands that can claim they were formed in a cemetery. But it was a perfect and appropriately poetic setting for the birth of the pioneers of roots music, The Pine Hill Haints, who have spent the last two decades resurrecting all kinds of music that didn’t fit into the mainstream, in a style they define as “Alabama Ghost Country.” Influenced as much by the New York Dolls as by Fugazi, they decided to bring that energy to the format of a family group known as ‘jug bands,’ using instruments as basic as the washboard or musical saw, or sound blade.
“We would simply go to the cemetery with acoustic instruments and start playing. And in a way, we were precursors to the whole roots movement. Sometimes people are afraid to admit that they like country music without leaning towards its more rock side. But I think of the Carter Family playing ‘You Are My Sunshine,’ that purity and emotion. That’s where we want to go.”
On their latest album, “The Song Companion of a Lonestar Cowboy,” they visit those places and other colorful landscapes of Americana and the Appalachians, ranging from fierce rockabilly pieces with Irish roots to pure Bo Diddley-style boogie, excursions into the country side of Sun Records, swampy blues, Cajun flavors, and other old music with soul. Recorded in Muscle Shoals, it features interpretations of folk, blues, and gospel songs, along with guests like JD Wilkes of the Legendary Shack Shakers.