Like a good bluegrass album should sound, there's nothing on The Bushel's sophomore EP Wood & Steel that you wouldn't expect to hear live. Recorded mostly in one take at Johns Island's Studio Blacktree, the seven-song disc kicks off with guitarist/singer Jim Algar wailing hard on the harmonica before his beatbox staccato guitar kicks in, backed by banjo, mandolin, and upright bass.
Not long ago, Algar was gigging around town with mandolin player Mal Jones when family friend Guilds Hollowell returned home after living in Maine. With Hollowell on banjo, the group recruited Algar's little brother, multi-instrumentalist Whitt Algar (a busy local musician and a courier for the City Paper) to play upright bass. Both Algar brothers and Jones write songs and sing, and each contributes on Wood & Steel, from the train-rolling "Cheap Beer Bar Brand Blues" to the knee-jerkin' "Kon Let's Dance."
The album's sole non-bluegrass tune, the bluesy "Ain't Gon Be Troubled," stands out thanks to the soulful harmony vocals of guest Christal Brown-Gibson. Reminiscent of a Depression-era-back porch-rocking chair session, a la "It Hurts Me Too," the song gently rolls through its 12-bar changes.
"We're really excited about the disc. We think the songs are great," says mandolin player Jones, who penned "Ain't Gon' Be Troubled." "We'd like to see this get as big as it possibly can without leaving the area."
Less than two years into officially forming, The Bushels already have two discs to back their chops and a growing fan base of bluegrass fans excited about their quality pickin', high harmonies, and solid original tunes. And with a name like The Bushels, they're hardly starving for gigs in our oyster-happy town.
"When we were coming up with a name, that was definitely a thought. Our logo even has two crossed shuckers on it. Oyster roasts are exactly the type of party we're a band for," says Jones.
But what about the months without an "R," when slurping bivalves falls out of favor? Cook up a pot of Frogmore stew and keep the party going?
"Summer is for cheap beer," laughs Jones. "Right now we're a cheap beer band."