Pineross
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Pineross

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Band Americana Avant-garde

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Steinbeck Noughties Style

The vision of one man, Kevin Larkin, fuels this meditative concept record of sorts. Essentially an updating of bluegrass traditions – Larkin is excellent throughout on guitar, mandolin or banjo – against the backdrop of a fictional town. There’s a western darkness and a trace of Scott Walker on ‘Dust in the Eyes’, a song that reaches for widescreen cinematic and grasps it. ‘Back and Forth’ takes place against what sounds like a 50’s sitcom, the dialog continuing as the humming and strumming continue on unabashed; it is like sitting outside in the summer windows open, neighbourhood sounds competing for attention. The media theme continues with ‘Everytime I Turn the Radio Up’ and ‘Are You Familiar with the Alphabet’ which deals with the earliest form of mass communication - here the vowels and consonants are beautifully rendered with banjo, bouzouki, fiddle, guitar and mandolin, circling and squabbling like Scrabble tiles shaken in their bag: they all fall into place to spell out - impressive. Celtic overtones gather in ‘Nopal’ but don’t let that bother you; everywhere else creaks with a kind of melancholy beauty. He might have started with Bluegrass; the end result though is something much more contemporary.
-David Cowling, Americana-UK - David Cowling (Nov. 2006)


“This is the kind of music you want to listen to when it is time to kick back and escape the hustle and bustle of the rat race. Kevin Larkin’s “Pineross” will sweep you back to yesteryear, to a simpler time, with some absolutely beautiful melodies. And the respite feels wonderful.
To produce this CD, Larkin combines a really cool eclectic assortment of music, ranging from bluegrass, to old country, to Irish melodies and pulls this combination off masterfully.
As a songwriter, Larkin does an extraordinary job of telling his tales. You will find yourself enmeshed in the story, picturing the character(s) and empathizing with them, as well.
Close your eyes and imagine yourself sitting around a campfire listening to these awesome tunes - it is a great feeling.”
-Herb Barbee, Roots Music Report - Herb Barbee (2006)


“Pineross: the name of Kevin Larkin’s neo-Western folk band; the title of the first full-length CD of said band; the piecemeal, mythical soundtrack for our Western heritage; the musical embodiment of a dead or dying ghost that is the Great American West. This eleven-song CD shades in the gaps between The West’s endless highways, stumbles through tumbleweed-ridden expanses, encounters and outruns bandits, waxes quixotic, drinks itself to oblivion, turns country legend, and rides off into the sunset, six-gun shining at Kevin Larkin’s side. Larkin’s website defines Pineross—the project—as being, “Two parts highway; 1 egg; 2 cups ground nails; 6 pints beer; 1 empty afternoon; 2 tsp paprika; a dash of doubt - Bake for 30 min at 325. Serves 4.”
Larkin shines when weaving myth into memorable, catchy song. Mandolin dances over the mythological union between Cervantes’ Don Quixote and the West in “Soy Quixote.” A drunken mid-song hurly-burly is summed up as the chorus cries: “I lost my mind out in the desert / you’d lose your mind out in the desert just the same.” My favorite tune, “Country Legend,” gathers the reflections of self-christened criminal; here Larkin’s knack for character-development is most evident. The incriminating and borderline-mythological chorus relates, “And in the press there’s news I’m out on the loose / I’m going to end up like a country legend, / and only fade away; / and only fade away.” Larkin re-casts an American past; he does so fluently, with eyes as encompassing as Walt Whitman’s.
Musically, Larkin is ambitious, combining aspects of traditional American Western music, Irish fiddle and bouzouki, and Spanish-influenced rhythms into a seemingly impossible whole. At times, his ideas seem to overwhelm the album’s unity. The inclusion of vocal and radio sampling in “Back ‘n’ Forth,” seems out of pace with the album’s steady ride. And although the Irish fiddle tune “Nopal” is undoubtedly a gem in and of itself, it seems a stretch for an album with a Western heart. This aside, the songs on Pineross are all well written, and these infringements are overshadowed by Larkin’s wonderful storytelling.
His stripped down recording set-up—“an old beat-up laptop computer and two mics,”—would leave most albums feeling thin, but the production here matches Larkin’s style: straightforward and unassuming. There is simple beauty in this. Pineross is a sound choice for a cross-country road-trip companion. “Every Time I Turn the Radio Up,” a song of leaving, captures the tensions of a relationship winding over desert roads: “I wondered about your silent ways behind the wheels for days and days / feeling free out on the road.” It repeats, in a stripped-down chorus, “And every time I turn the radio up, you turn the radio down.” And in “Nantucket,” Larkin croons, “And sometimes a foreign land / reminds me of my brother,” charmingly relating distance to those who are distant.
Larkin’s Pineross doesn’t ride off into the sunset… it paints a Western landscape then invites you to wander off into its dusty haze.”
-Tim Avery, Independent Clauses - Tim Avery (January 2007)


Discography

Pineross
Pineross (2006)
-800 physical CDs sold
Detached (release date - Nov 2010)

Mayhem String Band
Rapscallion's and Ne'erdowells (2007)
-1,800 physical copies sold
-175 digital albums sold
Land Pirates (2009)
-900 physical albums sold
-75 digital albums sold
-Produced by Jimbo Mathus (Squirrel Nut Zippers)
-features Ferd Moyse on fiddle (Hackensaw Boys)

Other credits
American Aquarium - Small Town Hymns (2010)
-featured on mandolin
Daybreakdown - Shine Like Rust (2007)
-featured on mandolin and co-wrote "Anything At All"
The Minor Adjustments - January Sessions (2010)
-featured on accordion, harmonica and mandolin
Currently producing a record for Mississippi songwriter Wayne Irby


Photos

Bio

Pineross is the musical embodiment of songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Kevin Larkin. Kevin began playing flatpick style guitar when he moved to Boulder, CO in 2000. Soon after discovering a local Irish session on Sunday nights, he bought a mandolin and started learning a stockpile of fiddle tunes, mastering the mandolin in the following years at the pub. Pineross' debut album was recorded in a mountain cabin and released in January 2006, with Larkin playing most of the instruments himself. It is a meditation on the dying American West, a fusion of Spaghetti westerns, bluegrass, Irish melodies, and classic country. There are also appearances from many of Boulder's finest musicians including Charlie Rose (Asylum Street Spankers) and Fransisco Marquez (Sambadende).
"Larkin re-casts an American past; he does so fluently, with eyes as encompassing as Walt Whitmans" -Tim Avery, Independent Clauses

Always restless and in need of seeing his native United States, Larkin moved to Oxford, Mississippi in February of 2006 to join the Mayhem String Band on mandolin, accordion and harmonica. For 4 years this "outlaw" bluegrass band toured constantly, released 2 critically acclaimed albums, and shared the stage with the likes of the Avett Brothers and B.B. King. Land Pirates (2009) was produced by Jimbo Mathus (Squirrel Nut Zippers) and has seen considerable airplay on SIRIUS/XM's Outlaw Country channel. Before a live performance in Oxford, SPIN magazine described the Mayhem show as "The best time you'll have all month."

After the Mayhem String Band stopped touring in early 2010, Larkin began splitting time in between Colorado and Mississippi recording tracks for Pineross' second album, Detached. The album has a much more experimental feel, exploring and combining numerous different influences into the acoustic foundation; most notably soul sampling, latin percussion, drum programming, vintage synths, and flowing lyrics. Along with playing most of the instruments on the record, Larkin recruited some of the best samba and string players in country. Guests include Justin Showah (Jimbo Mathus, Afrissippi), Macon Terry (Paper Bird) and Patrick Addison (Color Revoult) on bass, Aaron Lewis (Hot SEATS) on fiddle, and Jon Gray (Supercollider) on Trumpet. The album is set to be independently released in November 2010. Before its release, Larkin will be on tour as a stripped down, one-man band version of Pineross: guitars, mandolins, tambourines, kazoos, and even a suitcase.

Career highlights at a glance:
Mayhem String Band
-Toured for 4 years, playing over 500 shows across the country
-Built a fanbase with over 1,500 person mailing list
-Opened for B.B. King, the Avett Brothers, Del McCoury
-Named "Band to Watch" in October 2008 issue of Bluegrass Now
-Larkin's song "Hank" featured on SIRIUS/XM Outlaw Country
-SPIN magazine named their show "The Best Time You'll Have All Month"
-"Extra Gold" (co-written by Larkin) featured on the Virginia coal mining documentary "Between Two Hills"
- Regular attendance of over 150 people at club shows across the Southeast
- Regular performances on the Southeast festival circuit including: Acoustic Cafe, Bristol Rhythm and Roots, Highway 61 Blues Festival

Pineross
- Featured at Michigan's Meadowbrook Music Festival in 2006, playing to a crowd of 900
- Wrote, recorded and produced two albums