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Shortstack @ Black Cat

Washington, District of Columbia, USA

Washington, District of Columbia, USA

Shortstack @ Quiet Storm

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

Shortstack @ The Beer Mug

Erie, Pennsylvania, USA

Erie, Pennsylvania, USA

This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos


The best kept secret in music


The Big Takeover
Issue 56 2005
by Kurt Orzeck
Adrian Carroll allows us an escapist remedy from album after album of self-tormented rock fare with a bluegrass-oriented fictional narrative set sometime after the Gold Rush, somewhere west of the Mississippi. You can practically smell the dull reek of cowhide, the spaghetti-western storytelling is that convincing. It's crafted with Carroll leading on
guitar and three of his buddies following close behind on upright bass, lapsteel, drums, and hokey harmonies. Like Danny Barnes, ancient Americana like this composed by a group based in Washington D.C. (neighbor Phil Manly of Trans Am produces) has a likeable, demented appeal to it. And it's not just mere imitation, either; with traditional songs such as "Trouble in Mind" and "Farewell My Bluebelle," Shortstack embodies the spirit of that whiskey-drenched, brown-toothed era.

Metro Connection – WAMU 88.5FM
November 5, 2004
by Mark Jenkins
For the audio of this review, go to
“In the 1950s Washington was one of the major centers for country music, home to Roy Clark and Jimmy Dean. But for the last 25 years the city has been known mostly for go-go and punk. So it's no surprise that a group like Shortstack would arise from the punk and indie-rock scene. But according to Critic Mark Jenkins, this is one punk-rooted band that Roy Clark would understand. “

Punk Planet
March/April 2005
Yes! Creepy country-blues smothered in that sense of impending doom from above and pleasures of the flesh from below known as “Southern Gothic.” Slide guitars, two-note bass lines, jump-blues beats and moonshine-drenched vocals. Shortstack definitely has an “old-timey” feel, but it’s not forced. They’ve recognized, and tapped into, the qualities of old-school stuff like Ernest Tubb, Lightnin’ Hopkins, and Leadbelly that made that music sound so raw and powerful. They do a few traditional numbers like “Trouble In Mind” that you wouldn’t really be able to distinguish from their originals. They’re that good at writing murder ballads. Plus the hidden track is a juke-joint style cover of Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades.” Now that Trailer Bride broke up, I’m looking toward these dudes to pick up the button and go for the gold. (AJ)

Splendid Magazine
February 2005
by Evanston Wade
Sounding for all the world like Johnny Cash riding a lightning bolt (a la Slim Pickens) into the well-paved swamplands of Washington, DC, Shortstack is the brainchild of Pennsylvania refugees Adrian Carroll and Scott Gursky. After moving to Cap City in 2000, Adrian's serrated fingerpicking and Scott's reliable drum work soon caught the attention of upright bass-player Michael Pahn. After a few demos, Mike Maran (Scott's former bandmate from The Ruby Dare) joined on lap steel. Together, they've built a tight, slick, beer-swillin' delivery that's so razor sharp, they turned out their 13 song debut in just four days.
Their label would like us to classify these guys as "doom country", but while the lyrics may be hardened, the music is far from solemn. There's a lot of hillbilly blues in Shortstack's sound -- a syrupy, smoky jugband gusto -- but perhaps as a result of early punk and classic rock influences, Shortstack seem bigger, stronger and faster than those older styles. Upright basslines that once beckoned from a dark country road now gather swing and gravitas while bouncing off the redwoods of Bohemian Grove. Ghostly, arabesque guitars cry out for the splintered accompaniment of boots shuffling through sawdust on fat pine planks. Liquor, sweat and sorrow drip from these howling tracks, and we are encouraged to set it all ablaze at the giant rockabilly jag of our choice.
Is Shortstack a one-trick pony? Well, yeah. Not only that, but it's an old trick -- one that once wove its way through saloons and radio stations. Shortstack get away with it because they make no pretensions otherwise; they are craftsmen, indebted to their predecessors and working to live up to their standards, while still striving to make the music their own. To hear this music performed well today is a gift, and rarely is it alloyed with so much clarity and exhilaration. For Shortstack, there is honor and joy in stomping and hollering, even when the hazards of the swampland you call home are found on the beltway rather than the bayou.

January 9, 2005
by Abel Folgar
Think Dead Man, cowboys, and Charlie Feathers. This quad of hillbilly ramblers need to get themselves a contract on some indie western flick: their inspired country/rockabilly twang would play along well with visceral images of death on the barren wastelands of Nogales. Adrian Carroll leads the guitars and vocalizes these 12 tracks for maximum whiskey drainage. They call it “doom country,” I call it a sweet and contemplative 2/3rds of an hour. Following close are drummer Scott Gursky and lapsteel major Mike Maran with crack of the morn harmonies. Bass man Michael Pahn sets a grooving line for the band to build muted and multi-leveled compositions upon. Imagine sitting on a chair that’s moving along a track: everything is dark and every-so-often sounds appear with strengthening intensity and then slowly recede behind you. Somehow that’s what this album made me feel: every part building a surreal, gun slinging landscape. Ennio Morricone would be proud of these motherfuckers. Think of Neil Young’s delicious work on Jarmusch’s Dead Man. Think of when you wanted to grow up to be a cowboy. There’s an untitled 13th track that gives them Charlie Feathers airs and, though normally I would personally slap around anyone who dares the comparison, they pull it off.

Exclaim!—Canada’s Music Authority
December 06, 2004
In the early 2000s, Allentown’s Adrian Carroll came under the spell of guitar pickin’ legend Merle Travis. Carroll’s band, Shortstack, benefited greatly from this enchantment and their debut self-titled shows the results: a wonderfully messy homage to the days when nothing inspired a song like a good old fashioned hanging. Somewhere between the undertaker and the overpass, Shortstack’s urban garage take on the Wild West is filled with screaming lap steel, hollow-bodied tremolo, thumping string bass and mumbled vocals. If Cuff the Duke were to slowly morph into the Sadies, Shortstack would surely be the halfway point. Whether it is the dark raucous country of “Plenty Time for Sleepin’,” dealing with eschatological truths and cemetery real estate, or light-hearted instrumental interludes that conjure visions of matching nudie-suited band members (like on the traditional “Farewell My Bluebelle”), Shortstack have found a comfortable middle ground between classic country sound and contemporary hot-wired Americana. - SHORTSTACK’S SELF-TITLED RECORD


Shortstack, self-titled lp released 2003 on Planaria Records.


Feeling a bit camera shy



Shortstack formed in the winter of 2000 when Adrian Carroll and Scott Gursky, high school friends from Allentown, Pennsylvania, re-united as roommates in Arlington Virginia, just outside of Washington, DC. As they absorbed DC’s lively independent rock scene – Scott playing drums in The Ruby Dare – the two began working together on a different kind of music. With Adrian fingerpicking tunes Merle Travis-style, Scott laid down simple, stripped-down beats. The sound and style were fun, and they learned blues and country covers and began writing original songs. A mutual friend suggested that Michael Pahn catch one of their house shows in October 2001, and he offered to play upright bass on the spot. The new trio began playing more shows, dedicating more time to their craft. Soon, Mike Maran (also from the Ruby Dare) joined in on lap steel guitar. With all of these pieces in place and their sound locked down, Shortstack recorded their self-titled debut (released on Planaria Records) in late 2002. Over the next couple of years and dozens of shows around the eastern US, as the band’s sound has grown tighter and more intricate, its fan base has grown as well. At the beginning of 2005, Burleigh Seaver took over on the lap steel, and Shortstack headed west to Tucson to make its new recording.


The most heartfelt and intense American music grows out the strain of sorrow that runs throughout our history. The sadness embodied by the low moan of the blues. The longing for old world homes and new promised lands carried in the melodies of Appalachia. The smokey stomp of juke joint blues and the high wail of backwoods country became one in rock and roll, which shook off all that pain with the pure joy of a pounding beat. What remains is an unbroken lineage built upon the guilt and sadness buried in America's character. That is the tradition found in the music of Shortstack.

They write murder ballads, stories of redemption and songs of persecution, all with haunting Southern Gothic overtones. Their lineup dates to the moment before rock burst open -- when honky-tonk still ruled radio: guitar, lap-steel, upright bass, and stripped-down drums. They draw on American musical traditions, from the earliest of country and blues, through the birth of rockabilly, up to the classic rock and punk of their generation. They are not, however, interested in retro rehashing or aping musical genres. The music that speaks to Shortstack is raw and honest, and they capture this immediacy in their own sound. They've found a means of expression that draws upon the breadth of America's unique musical heritage.

When it comes right down to it, Shortstack is simply four men play their music honestly and well. Part of what makes it feel so authentic is their lack of stylistic striving. They have chanced upon that same vein of painful truth that runs through so much of the music that inspires them. They sat down to practice and played the only music they could.