the Can Kickers
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the Can Kickers

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The best kept secret in music

Press


"Can Kickers"

Article by Jeff Breeze, Northeast Performer, May 2003

When people think about southern Connecticut these days, it usually has something to do with a trip to the casinos. People really don't look to the coast as a beacon of culture, but New London has been showing some serious signs of musical life. With WCNI New London 91.1 FM providing an outlet for music on the airwaves and places like the El'n'Gee Pub giving bands a place to play in front of an audience, things are certainly picking up. For the Can Kickers, the operative word in that last phrase is "picking."

After meeting through a mutual friend a Connecticut College, Daniel Spurr (banjo, guitars, and vocals). Dan Thompson (fiddle, harmonica), and Doug Schaefer (washboard, drumset, and djembe) realized that by bringing some modern energy to some traditional Appalachian music would be a lot more fun than making thoroughly modern music. Schaefer, veteran of the Afflicted, said, "One night I played buckets along with the fiddle and banjo and decided it was much more fun to play than the punk rock I'd been listening to."

Spurr picked up the banjo while in college, and it led him down a path that passed from an early love of Pete Seeger to the Harry Smith Folk Anthology and the depths of old time music. But like Schaefer, Spurr wanted more than just standard genre fare. "I had been playing around in the local old-time scene in Connecticut and in Boston. I enjoyed it and learned a lot, but it was mainly a bunch of old folks from the revival period of the 60's and 70's, and there wasn't the same energy or raw quality that I had heard on the old recordings. I wanted to do something new, or at least real old. And I wanted to bring old-time music back to the kids- just like the Ramones did for rock and roll." Asked to describe what the Can Kickers do, Spurr is quick to add, "I just say we play old-time music from the southern Appalachians for the kids."

Pigeonholing the Can Kickers is a tough thing to do; even their instrumentation defies the categorization they most frequently land in. Schaefer said, "Everyone calls us a bluegrass band, which isn't technically true. Old-time music is a precursor to bluegrass. It is less technical and everyone can play it. Also, we have lots of percussion, which most traditional old-time bands don't have." Schaefer is quick to point out the similarities between musical styles that the Can Kickers bridge: "Folkies and punks often share the same values, except punks take the fashion side to an extreme and turn a viable movement for social protest into a runway show with cliques and stupid rules."

As a result of their musical choices, the Can Kickers have more doors open to them than the average punk band. Grandparents and young kids and jaded punks can all find common ground in their music- an the dance floor. Thompson said, "It seems we can play just about anywhere. The gap between punk rock and old-time is smaller than one might think- there was an NPR piece about the Portland, Oregon old-time/punk scene where there's a high degree of overlap; we opened at a punk rock square dance in Seattle."

The Can Kickers have started hosting their own square dances in New London, and taking their show on the road. They recently set out across the south on tour with punk heroes This Bike is a Pipebomb, and came back to New London with a few more bucks than they set out with. Plans for a short midwest tour and a full-scale summer jaunt are already in the works.

For the Can Kickers, the goal of playing music is to have fun. Even in times of war, there's a simple message according to Thompson: "If people played and danced more they might kill each other less."

- Northeast Performer


"Mountain Dudes Review"

Missoula Independent Vol.16 No.10 March 2005

Can Kickers

Mountain Dudes

Cosmodemonic Telegraph

Listening to the Can Kickers is like being swung around a dusty dance hall after too many longnecks, dizzy and happy and giddy without a care about tomorrow or the headache that's sure to follow. There's no time to think when the band is playing old-time mountain music with the fervor of an Irish punk band; you just go with it.

Mountain Dudes isn't so much a studio recording as an attempt to bottle a Kickers live show. There is almost no studio production and the band plays loose and free from track to track. Every other song, maybe, you can make out some of Daniel Spurr's mumbling twang. The harmonies are rough around the edges, but none of that matters. The energy of Dan Thompson's fiddling and the doubled beats of Doug Schaefer's percussion (he was actually in a hardcore band, The Afflicted, before going old-time) give the Kickers a rambunctious, rollicking groove that translates just well enough in a recording to make you want to give the live show a whirl.

The Can Kickers are less bluegrass than old, weird Appalachia turned upside down. The Smithsonian's American Anthology of Folk Music, which contains several early versions of tunes reimagined here, never sounded so modern. (Skylar Browning)

- Missoula Independent


"Mountain Dudes Review"

CAN KICKERS - MOUNTAIN DUDES
cd review by vinnie baggadonuts

For movie-goers: If movies could have sex, and Tim Burton’s early work got O Brother, Where Art Thou? pregnant, this would be the baby: a little CD called Mountain Dudes.

For music-lovers: If Bad Brains grew up in the mountains of West Virginia, and sacrificed their distortion pedals for banjos and fiddles, Mountain Dudes would be their CD.

For review readers: The Can Kickers are just plain fucking awesome. They don’t regurgitate old-time music. They take it, swallow it, and spit out something all their own. The uptempos and independent spirit belong to punk, while the rest of it belongs to the songs of Appalachia. Mountain Dudes is 13 songs of them sounding like they’re having the best time of their lives. It’s the kind of stuff you’d much rather hear on the street corners downtown, instead of that one sax player who rapes the same three jazz standards every time.

Check out cankickers.com to get a hold of this album, and their previous two. MP3s are available for sampling, but these kids are totally self-sustaining, so support ‘em when you can.
- Tastes Like Chicken (www.tlchicken.com)


Discography

Dead Music 1 (CD)
Dead Music 2 (CD)
Mountain Dudes (CD)
Fire in the East, Fire in the West (7")

mp3s are available on our webpage www.cankickers.com

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

We like old music and kind of fuck it up, but in a good way.