They sequenced their new CD backwards so that listeners will hear them more than their influences.
"Are they ever going to say that it sounds like Deadstring Brothers?"
Kurt Marschke is understandably irritated. The band has always worn its influences proudly, so it's easy to hear The Rolling Stones' chug in the Deadstrings' country rock. That referentiality marks the band as music fans first - a good thing, in the way it narrows the distance between them and their audience - but their influences have become a part of how people talk about and write about the band. Marschke knows his heroes are in there, but so are other, more personal sounds. "Did they listen to the whole record?" he wonders, and to help fight that, he deliberately sequenced the new Cannery Row backwards, putting songs that he would put up front deeper in the album, and moving deep cuts forward. Still, old habits and narratives can be hard to shake. SavingCountry.com reviewed the album, writing, "You damn near hear Jagger at the beginning of 'Long Lonely Ride,' but that is Deadstring mainstay Kurtis Marschke who is the primary writer and singer of the songs." The Deadstring Brothers play an early show Wednesday at the Circle Bar.
Still, critics do notice a shift in emphasis, more toward country. Cannery Row is a more acoustic album, and it's very much a product of Marschke moving from his native Detroit to Nashville three years ago - long enough for it to influence his work in meaningful ways. If nothing else, it forced him to take himself and his music more seriously. When he lived in Detroit, many of his musical friends had day jobs, some only playing on weekends. "Being here where music is full-time for most of the people, it changes your perspective of the whole game," Marschke says. In Nashville, he immersed himself in the community of musicians who were constantly at work, whether touring, playing sessions, or gigs. He too started jumping in to add his guitar or voice when someone needed it, and he quickly discovered a substantial network of musicians across the freeway from Music Row. "You feel more like you're in your company when you're here. When someone like Jim Lauderdale's involved, you feel like you're in a really healthy environment."
The move to Nashville was partly motivated by the city's centrality for touring purposes. "Your 10-hour radius out of Nashville's pretty impressive for the markets you can hit," Marschke says. As an Americana artist, the only real way to grow an audience is through touring, and The Deadstring Brothers will be at it into the fall including a trip to Europe. " We're running hard trying to make up as much ground as possible. We'd play every single day on the road if we could. What's the point of a day off? If you ain't playing, you're paying."