Mountain Man (Photo courtesy Nonesuch Records)
In February, folk trio Mountain Man released a new digital single, covering John Denver! “We love John Denver so much we gave Alex his haircut, and recorded a few of his legendary tunes too,” the band says. Perhaps they will play the songs, “Take Me Home, Country Roads” and “Around and Around,” in their appearance at The Barns at Wolf Trap on Friday, March 29.
The Dead Tongues perform at Jammin Java on Feb. 17, 2019. (Photo by Matt Ruppert)
I walked around Jammin Java on Sunday, its brick walls reflecting the stagelights, crowd slowly filling in. My wife asked if I wanted a beer; we went to the bar, where a gaggle of musicians ordered drinks, special opener Molly Sarlé holding a bouquet of white and yellow flowers. Ryan Gustafson, also known by his stage name The Dead Tongues, walked away last, but not before I could say, “I’m really looking forward to the show.” He stopped, turned, looked me in the eyes, telling me “Thanks so much,” with a hand on my shoulder.
Mountain Man performs at the Historic Sixth & I Synagogue on Oct. 22, 2018. (Photo by David LaMason)
Six years between tours and eight between albums seems like a long time, but for the North Carolina-based Mountain Man, it certainly doesn’t sound like years apart on their second full-length LP, Magic Ship (Nonesuch / Bella Union). Part of that reason is that recipe of rhythm and harmony that Amelia Meath, Alexandra Sauser-Monnig, and Molly Sarlé each add to the pot. Part traditional Appalachian folk songs and part post-modern Americana, the music created by this trio was both pleasant and off-center, an often transcendent stew that was totally engrossing at Sixth & I on Monday.