“The Dead Session” by Town Mountain

Town Mountain
The Dead Session

By Aaron Keith Harris

The last we heard from Town Mountain in the studio was 2012’s Leave the Bottle, which saw the Asheville, N.C. band moving out from their bluegrass roots and farther in to the jam-band landscape with “original, band-written music, a powerful instrumental presence, and vocal diversity and dexterity.”

This two-song release—we used to call these things singles, back in the album era—pays to the Grateful Dead 50 years after their founding.

“Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo” clocks in at seven minutes, with Robert Greer’s down-home tenor and Jesse Langlois’ easygoing banjo style setting the perfect groove for Bobby Britt’s fiddle to twist and wind as languidly as Vassar Clements’ did on the original studio recording.

The B-side is a ‘grassy take on “Big River,” done closer to the style of Johnny Cash’s original cut. Covering a cover is certainly very much in the spirit of the Grateful Dead, but I’d have rather heard something like “Truckin’” or “Candyman.” Still, this is a tasty lagniappe that leaves us wanting Town Mountain to serve up a full course deadicated (pun intended) to the legendary band sound to which they certainly do justice.