The Pope County Bootleggers
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The Pope County Bootleggers

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Band Americana Acoustic

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pope County Bootleggers

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---Peter Read
I'm sitting here at Fayetteville's Smoke & Barrel Tavern watching The Pope County Bootleggers work their magic. This is definitely one of the hardest working bands I've seen in some time, and this crowd feels it across the board. Indeed, the group plays this club at least once a month, and the staff and management is all grins whenever they're here…singing and dancing along as they pour the drinks and schmooze with the customers. It's always a party when they play, and tonight is no exception.
This night, like at nearly every gig they play, includes a line out the door of folks just waiting to get in. Indeed, when the door-dude opens the door the crowd outside collectively cheers and pushes forward.
"We can't let anyone else in because the fire chief says no more," he yells. "You'll have to wait a while."
"Then leave the door open so we can hear," someone shouts back.
"It's cold…you'll have to wait a bit," is his reply, and shuts the door.
What sets this band apart from the 'normal' acts is the unique combination of influences from each player. They cover just about everything from blues to classic country, straight-ahead rock and roll, Southern rock, bluegrass, rockabilly, folk and so on, and meld it all together in one fun, romping musical Americana celebration. Indeed, 'Americana' seems to sum up the band across the board.
Ultimately an acoustic band, they strip things down to the bare minimum, producing their music entirely in person, sans effects pedals, electronic vocal tricks or even a full drum kit. You are hearing the real deal from musicians who want nothing more than to seriously play their music, and have the most fun in their lives doing it.
And they do have fun, too, as does the crowd, a fact which shows on every patron's face in the club.
The Pope County Bootleggers are much more than a "local band" - a fact evidenced by a glance at their performance itinerary. There are dates in the coming months from Austin, Texas to Nashville, Tennessee, to Geneva, Minnesota, and many, many shows in between. Indeed, they are playing nearly every night somewhere, and when they're not they're on the road covering the miles between gigs.
Citing as their primary influences Blue Ribbon Beer and Wild Turkey, the band employs a wild, party-loving attitude that is as genuine as it is infectious. And the crowd eats it up, too.
In great demand locally, the players act almost surprised at their popularity and success, with each humming and hawing whenever someone comments on how good they are.
To borrow from Barry Lewis, the lead guitarist and backing vocalist, "We just play what we'd like to hear ourselves. That's the key, I think. We'd probably get bored if we limited our approach to someone's idea of so-called "cover material"…unless, of course, the songs they asked for were some of our usual stuff. But they often do, actually. There are tunes we've put together that people know by heart, even though we've never released them on a record. They learn them from coming to our shows."
A real drunk chick just tried to get on the stage, and they motion to the bouncer about it.
"Honey…we'd love to have you up here with us, but there's really no room for another person up here. Why don't you just sit down and take in the music," says Barry. "Wait 'til after the show and we can get together," says Butch Taylor (the bass player).
Everyone laughs, including her, and she staggers off.
I mention this later when talking with Barry, and he says it happens all the time.
"Do they ever wait 'til after the show?" I ask.
"Not that often. Besides, she's probably passed out somewhere by now. She was just caught up in the moment…she won't even remember it tomorrow I'm sure…"
In addition to Barry, the band consists of Richard Burnett, lead vocals, dobro, guitar, banjo and harmonica; Butch Taylor, on bass and vocals; and Phillip Eubanks on drums and percussion (a tiny, scaled-down drumset with one cymbal).
The band formed in 2007, and have been in great demand ever since their first gig.
This band will be the Nightflying showcase band at this years' SXSW in Austin. Their slot is on Saturday night at The Hideout, located at 6017 Congress Ave., at 11 p.m. If you are in Austin on March 20, be sure to get by the club and show your support.
We are quite proud to be featuring The Pope County Bootleggers at the conference. Through the years we have sponsored Lucero, The Tares, A Good Fight, The Gunbunnies, Richard Johnson, Burger, Fifth Cliff, David & The Immatures, Jubilee Dive, The SkeeterHawks, Punkinhead, Runaway Planet, Blues Patrol and a host of others at SXSW.
In all truth, this years' showcase band is one of the most exciting acts we have yet to send to Austin. It's - Nightflying Publications


Tuesday, May 04, 2010

SXSW: An Almost Famous Kind of Moment

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---Dori Colston
I am outrageously blessed. I couldn’t imagine it any other way. Constantly, I am surrounded by great people, food, libations, and live music. This March I got to experience an amazing festival like no other, South By South West. If you haven’t ever been it’s kinda like a festival on steriods.
The trip was almost like a living version of Almost Famous. I had arranged to travel to Austin with the Pope County Bootleggers, this years' Nightflying showcase band. After many confirmation calls as to arrival times in Fort Smith, the Pope County Bootleggers arrived only 5 hours late at 1 in the a.m. of Saint Patty’s day to pick me up. Hell, for musicians, they were right on time! So off we went, Richard, Butch, Phillip, Barry, Moriah (Barry’s girlfriend dubbed band mom), and myself in our trusty van Ger Win.
Several bath room, oil checks, and other breaks later we arrived in Austin at the Eden House (Thanks Eryn!). It was definately a delerious 11 a.m. arrival. Our bodies said sleep, but ohhhh contrair! It's SXSW! Drop your stuff, get your bearings and let's go! We've got 4 days, 80 venues and 2000 bands to catch… Well at least some of. We made a fairly quick decision to go ahead and get our badges and wrist bands for the event.
After picking up our badges, finding music was the first priority. The great thing is, you really don't have to know where you're going just listen for the music. I was more prepared than this. Badge and guide in hand my Wednesday evening first stop was to see one of my fav bands: American Aquarium. (they tour in Arkansas hitting Landry’s, White Water Tavern and Georges regularly). What a great show. They kicked the formerly inattentive crowd into high gear.
Due to sleep deprivation, my next stop was a 17$ (!!!) cab ride to the Eden house only 12 blocks away. The traffic during this event made two blocks an easy 10 minutes drive. (I learned quickly to use the bus!)
Two hours, and a much needed nap later, all I could think about was the Nancy Fly show case at Momo's. Nancy Fly books for the likes of Patrice Pike and Carolyn Wonderland so this was gonna be good. Hmmm. It was 8:30. I thought there was a chance in Hell I would catch Lynn Miles over at the Driskell. Well, I did catch her final applause if that counts:) No? I didn't think so either. Ah well.
Several blocks walk later I was at Momo’s where BettySoo was soothing me with her bluesy sound. And then, much to my delight, Carolyn Wonderland rocked the house! During sound check she shredded a few rifts dazzling the crowd. All the sudden she stopped and said, "yeah, that oughta do it." Holy gawds man! After that, I couldn't wait to see the real set. And as enticed, the real set was stellar. With skills like Jimmy, soul like Janice, and the free spiritedness of a child she put on nothing short of an amazing show. She always does, for that matter.
With a joyous heart and a brain flowing over with thoughts turning to memories, I headed back to crash for the night. A 6$ cab ride later, (less traffic I'm guessing) I arrived once again at the Eden House. Midnight had changed us over to a new day. Late night conversations, smoking, and drinks on the porch were kept to a minimum. Sleep was calling.
Excitement woke me early. I enjoyed the porch scene with the Pope County boys for a while I planned my day. Collectively we decided to check out a documentary on Arkansas native Levon Helm called "I Ain’t In It For My Health." Wow. Check this out. This is an awesome review of the last few years of Levon's life. If you’re a fan of Levon from his day’s from The Band, don’t worry -there is just enough of the Band history thrown in to please Band fans and just enough to educate those who have no clue as to who Levon is.
Separating ways after this, I made it a point to check out part of the Americana Music Showcase at Antone’s. I was highly impressed with Hayes Carll. Beyond his musical and lyrical abilities he defiantly can work a crowd. This was a great start to my evening.
One taco stand later, I ended up on a pedi-bike with Butch to catch the scene on Red River street. Wow. By this time, SXSW looked like New Orleans during the first part of Mardi Gras, but with no flashing. Well, at least that I saw. The streets were crawling. The venues were pumping. Every 30 feet you could walkup to a new place with a completely different sound. Country, Blues, Americana, Rock, you name it, it was playing live.
Red River Street was a prime example. I caught blues guitarist Guitar Shorty for a couple of songs and then caught up with Butch, Phillip and Richard a block away to catch Alabama surf rock group Man or Astro-Man. These guys rocked our pants off and still managed to keep us entertained when an amp fuse blew - Nightflying Publications


Discography

The Pope County Bootleggers have two full lps worth of original material (not including live recordings). more songs and a new record is in the making.

Photos

Bio

Each band member has 15 years + experience in playing music.
We formed over 3 years ago and have been full time musicians ever since. We play gigs all throughout the region building a fanbase as we go.

What sets us apart from the rest is our unique combination of influences from each band member. We blend everything from Blues, Classic Country, Rock and Roll, Southern Rock, Bluegrass, Rockabilly, Folk etc... you can hear traces of all of these in our music. What is also unique about the band is the fact that everything you hear is from acoustic instruments. Everything is stripped down to the bare minimum which means the band produces a full band sound without the use of effects pedals, full drum kit, vocal effects etc. so you are hearing just the music in its rawest form.

we thrive on crowd participation so the audience is part of the experience as much as the band.

for more info visit our myspace page at:

www.myspace.com/thepopecountybootleggers