The Salt Miners
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The Salt Miners

Band Folk Bluegrass


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The best kept secret in music


"DETROIT DISC: Salt Miners are in it for fun"

The all-acoustic (but fiddle-free) outfit, formed in 2001 by Tim Pak at his Woodshed Studios in Oak Park, draws much of its musical inspiration from bluegrass and old-time string bands, but don't expect much stone-faced picking or nasal lamentation from these guys.

Pak and company keep the wry lines coming on "Dressed for Excess," this time wringing wicked humor from a hot babe in a Pontiac ("Grand Am girl, you kind of look upset/ Because I drooled on my shirt and now it is wet"), a poor Kentucky pot farmer ("What my father did with corn, I do with weed instead") and, most improbably, the tiny town of Centralia, Pa., which has been all but wiped out by a 40-year underground coal fire. (It's memorialized here in a tune titled "Hell on Earth.")

Even death comes in for some ribbing on Brian McCarty's infectious "When That Old Lid Closes in on Me," which admonishes: "Keep them pretty mourners from fighting over my bones/ Lord knows I need the rest in my new home."

Amid the laughs are some musical moments worth taking seriously: Pak and Dan Tennant's fierce banjo work on "Y'all Come"; the complex, Beach Boys-like harmonies on "Girl of Mine"; and Mark Paul's hauntingly lovely "Marybelle," the closest thing to a pure bluegrass tune the album has to offer.

But make no mistake: This is a band that happily puts revelry above artistry. If Bill Monroe and Ken Kesey had collaborated on a musical project in the '60s, "Dressed for Excess" is what it might have sounded like.

By Greg Crawford,

Free Press staff writer - The Detroit Free Press

"Russell Cook wrote this..."

"The Salt Miners put a well-dressed punk twist on traditional folk music. They're a little more retro sounding the The Avett Brothers, who play rock and roll on folk instruments, but the two bands share an energy with an edge. The Miners hit the American string band tradition with a simple, hard driving force and punk spirit similar to the Pogues' relation to traditional Irish music." - The Rome UnScene

"Dara Carson, producer of The Americana Folk Festival said.."

“It’s not an exaggeration in saying The Salt Miners gave one of the most noteworthy performances of this year’s event. Our audience is still talking about them…” - none

"Gary Blackwell wrote"

“Every once in a while, a band blows through a scene doing something truly unexpected incredible deviation
from the norm of the scene it sits amongst. The Detroit area has
found itself blessed with one of these acts with The Salt Miners.” -

"Babble And Beat Review"

I’m going to be honest and say that, generally speaking, I very much dislike Bluegrass music. But then I discovered The Salt Miners.

The Salt Miners are a goodtime band with amusing lyrics. When I first heard them a few months ago I was immediately taken by them. I mean, I actually paid for a Bluegrass cd !?! Now, that’s really saying something.

My knowledge of Bluegrass is slim. My dad use to play the banjo for fun, I’ve seen the '70s TV show Heehaw way too many times, and I went to a Johnson Mountain Boys concert in Chicago when I was young. That pretty much sums up my exposure to the stuff.

What I do know is that Bluegrass usually doesn’t come across sounding like a Cake-esque band playing with a banjo, harmonica, mandolin, and resonator guitar. In addition to Bluegrass, Folk, and Acoustic lovers, I think that the Salt Miners would appeal to many Indie, Alternative, and Pop / Rock music enthusiasts as well. Great musicianship is not a question here either. Their song writing, pop / rock vocals, creative take on traditional works, and instrument playing make them a real force. At times I do hear a twinkle of the fabulous Camper Van Beethoven. That’s a nice little topper.

Original SM highlights on their full-length cd, ‘ Dressed For Excess’ (Woodshed Records, 2005) are: ‘Contraband’, ‘Grand Am Girl’, ‘Girl Of Mine’, ‘Marybelle’, and ‘Hell On Earth’.

Traditional Bluegrass highlights on this cd are: ‘Ripsaw’, ‘Columbus Stockade Blues’, ‘Freight Train’, ‘Roll Down The Line’, ‘Y’all Come’, ‘San Francisco Bay Blues’, ‘Not Waiting’, and ‘Rough Times’.

There isn’t a dud song on this whole 14-track cd! Their version of ‘Y’all Come’ is absolutely awesome by the way. - Babble & Beat Fanzine


"A Good Time To Be Had" 2004 Woodshed Records

"Dressed For Excess" 2005 Woodshed Records

"The Fifth Of July" 2006 Woodshed Records


Feeling a bit camera shy


In Detroit, it is hard to find a sound not produced by machine. From the hum of the production line to the scream of the blast furnace, the sound of industry fills the air. Under the din, you can hear four guys singing and playing their hearts out, returning to a simpler way of making music. These guys are The Salt Miners, Detroit's Finest and Best Dressed Old Time String Band.

This collection of rustbelt working stiffs originally got together to share songs and have some good times, and five years later it’s still all about the party, be it around the firepit outside, or the microphone onstage. Their campfire hootenannies at festivals get so raucous that promoters of other events have taken notice and hired the boys on for their shows. And live, you can plainly see and hear that with one foot planted in tradition, and the other in a high-energy performance style honed in the nightclubs of Detroit, this improbable sampler of musicians has come to the gathering to make some noise.