Captain Legend Band will drop their new album, Rumors of the Great White Skunk, August 1. That’s the official release date. But you can listen to it now on Bandcamp. The album contains 10 tracks of bluegrass and red dirt music, a fusion the band refers to as “bluedirt/redgrass.”
Red dirt music is partly a distinctive sound and partly a geographical attitude. The sound is a mish-mash of folk, Americana, rock, country, bluegrass, blues, western swing, and honky tonk. The attitude is pure Oklahoma, straightforward, authentic, and independent.
The two mainstays of the Captain Ledge Band are Cliff (bass) and Jeana Downing (vocals, mandolin), whereas the other members of the band alternate, like Jimmy Henley, two-time winner of the “Best Banjo Player in the World,” and guitarists Tony Adams, Justin Joslin, and Lonnie Lay. The band has performed at the House of Blues in New Orleans but now plays mostly at festivals: Made in Oklahoma Festival, the Woodland Waterways Arts Festival in Houston, the Mayhaw Festival in Arkansas, and the Malibu Wine Festival in California.
The unique title of the album refers to the white skunks roaming the property Cliff Downing’s grandparents purchased in Southeast Oklahoma, back in 1949. As Cliff says, “Per family members, they’ve just always been there and no one has ever really thought anything about it.”
Of the 10 tracks on the album, the highlights include “Bucket Mouth,” a country folk-flavored tune about Chatty Cathies who don’t know how to keep their mouths shut. I love the bassline on this song because of its fluctuating tone. The guitar solo comes close to approximating human speech. Downing’s voice exudes a twangy, drawling inflection rife with infectious textures.
“No Need to Cry” is a bluesy country tune with tints of honky tonk running through it. A dirty, scrawling guitar makes this song deliciously attractive. My favorite song is “Mimosa Tree,” a delicate country-flavored tune vaguely reminiscent of Lynyrd Skynyrd. An oozing psychedelic guitar infuses the tune with unexpected colors, and the vocal harmonies, light and delicate, are simply delectable.
With Rumors of the Great White Skunk, the Captain Ledge Band presents music uniquely different from run-of-the-mill country and Americana, nuanced with parochial colors and textures. It’s laid-back and symbolic on one level, yet vibrant and charming.