Renegade Minstrels
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Renegade Minstrels

Portland, Oregon, United States | SELF

Portland, Oregon, United States | SELF
Band Americana Folk

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"Artful Blues for the Soul"

Joe Seamons and his crew, the Renegade Minstrels, could have played it safe with recreationist takes on rural blues or gone the neo-blues cum rock route with a thrashing duo setting a la the Black Keys or the White Stripes. But Seamons, guitarist, vocalist and chief songwriter, has chosen to step out into art-blues territory, evidenced on the band's second* CD, a self-produced project that drops this weekend.
Not strictly a blues record in any Natchez or Chicago or even West Coast swing sense, "Frontier Blues" instead borrows from the pallettes of rural blues and early New Orleans jazz. It paints pictures of longing, heartbreak, and woe in a readily identifiable Northwest setting.
On this 12-song CD, Seamons makes maximum use of trombonist Jon Ramm-Gramenz, the upright bass and dobro of Luke Dennis, drummer Forest Carter and his own creamy-sounding guitar. Along the way he gilds his jazzy turn-of-the-century sound with Austin Moore's mandolin and Gavin Duffy's banjo, organ and piano. (Duffy has since left the band to pursue a degree in composition.)
Writer of eight of the songs, Seamons has a voice of limited range but it's one that adequately infuses each song with appropriate pathos. Covers of traditional tunes by Blind Willie McTell, Mississippi John Hurt, Bob Dylan, and even Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter's "Brokedown Palace" add much to the mix.
Out of the mossy glop that is a Northwest winter, this is a collection of songs that mollify, wholly befitting our soul-gazing introspection and weather weariness.



by Don Campbell


*Frontier Blues is Renegade Minstrels first CD.
 - The Oregonian newspaper


"Caroline Wood, Playwright"

Renegade Minstrels are a class act: young, smart, original and talented. Passion and focus bring all those things together to create something of substance.
Authentic is what first comes to mindÑknowing that IÕm right where I need to be; so often I'm somewhere and thinking IÕd rather be somewhere else. When listening to this music there wasn't anywhere; the music was all there was. They have originalityÑthey reveal the personal and by doing so tap the universal.

- None


"Dan Oschrin Quote"

ÒI had been a casual listener of blues music before, but it had always seemed like a sort of
lost art, a forgotten and obsolete side note in modern music. Being a guitar player, I understood that rock and roll is rooted in the twelve-bar progressions of greats like Muddy Waters and Skip James, but I thought that blues in its pure form had died out along with the legends. The ÔFrontier BluesÕ concert proved that I couldnÕt have been more wrong: the blues are alive and well. I can honestly say that Renegade MinstrelsÕ performance radically changed my perception of music, and my life. I recognized some of the music, such as the supercharged re-hash of John HurtÕs ÔSpike Driver Blues.Õ I left that performance feeling inspired. I realized that I could and should try to make myself apart of this great tradition of American music. I soon signed up for blues guitar lessons, and IÕve been listening, studying, playing, and singing ever since.Ó

- Audience Repsonse


Discography

The band's first EP will be released in Summer of 2011.

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Bio

Renegade Minstrels play urban old time music. The band’s current incarnation came together in the Summer of 2010, when five musicians bonded through their love of danceable acoustic music and sharp, bluesy vocal harmonies.

In contrast to the folk-punk-bluegrass style that characterizes many acoustic bands today, Renegade Minstrels bring the mentality of jazz musicians to their music--focusing on dynamic contrasts, keen listening, and responding swiftly to one another’s ideas in real time.

Jessica Jarris, Ben Larsen, and Joe Seamons share lead singing duties, and their vocal harmonies ride atop a galloping mix of mandolin, banjo, dobro, harmonica, bass and guitar.
While their music is often loose and playful, many of the Minstrels’ original songs are in the blues mode: they confront a harsh world, and seek to transcend strife through spirited revelry.