If you were to listen to this album from Five Mile Mountain Road, you’d find yourself moving, thinking it was different, knowing you like it, but also thinking “Someone should name this style.”
They did—it’s called “swingbilly,” a term Charlie Poole’s son James used in the 1930s. Hailing from Franklin County, Virginia—the self-proclaimed “moonshine capital of the world”—Five Mile Mountain Road has produced a crackling CD called Swingbilly Swagger, an apt description of the 15 cuts.
Headlined by longtime fiddler Billy Hurt Jr. and guitarist Brennen Ernst—a pair who met while working in The Karl Shiflett and Big Country Show— Five Mile Mountain Road offers a lot of traditional bluegrass mixed with other goodies. When they met banjoist Seth Boyd, they were ready to roll.
As described by the band, swingbilly combines reels, rural ragtime blues, western swing, 1950s country and early bluegrass. It is “music meant to be danced to.” That means tradition string instruments and sometimes piano and washboard—and it all works.
The range is wide and there are tunes made famous by Doc Watson, Flatt & Scruggs, Bob Wills and the Dilliards, all with a fresh turn. There is one original tune, “Noelle,” penned by Boyd.
Rounding out the band are Caleb Erickson on guitar, J.C. Radiford on bass and guest Danny Bureau on percussion, who make this a get-out-of-your-good seat good listen.