Ace tune by the gutsy North Carolina band taken from smokin’ new album, due out in early March. (Pictured above, L-R: Luis Rodriguez, Kenny Roby, Dan Davis, Rob Keller)
By Blurt Staff
Americana fans with long memories know well the name 6 String Drag: the hard-twanging Raleigh (NC)-by-way-of-Clemson (SC) outfit that helped usher in the golden era of alt-country in the early/mid ‘90s, predating both Ryan Adams’ Whiskeytown and scene bible No Depression. And although the members went their separate ways in 1998, 6 String Drag wound up reuniting in 2014 and released an acclaimed comeback album in early 2015.
Indeed, Roots Rock ‘N’ Roll (Royal Potato Family) was reviewed here at BLURT, our editor hailing the mix of power pop, rockabilly-esque twang, and bluesy soul: “It lives up to its title in every sense of the word—it’s rootsy as hell, and it’ll rock your ass off.. Maturity means you get to do a few things you didn’t quite have the skills or savvy to do 20 years earlier, and it also means you and the folks around you get to savor things because the moments of now tend to hover, deliciously, even while the memories of then continue to linger.” (Go HERE to listen to a track we premiered here in 2015.)
Resuming operations clearly gave the band a sense of momentum, and now they’ve got a smokin’ followup to RRNR due on digital, CD, and vinyl on March 9 via the Schoolkids Records label (formerly Second Motion and, full disclosure, our sister business). Titled Top of the World, it’s 11 tracks of pure 6SD, produced by – as was RRNR – Jason Merritt. By way of preview we are very proud to unveil the track “Waste of Time.” Check it out below; we guarantee it won’t be a waste of your time.
Guitarist/vocalist Kenny Roby—who is joined by co-founding bassist Rob Keller, plus guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Luis Rodriguez and drummer Dan Davis, plus guests John Ginty on keys and Matt Douglas on horns—notes that Top of the World “isn’t quite the almost live and somewhat frantic approach, like 1997’s [Steve Earle-produced] High Hat. And Roots Rock ’N’ Roll was really intentionally recorded like a ’50s and ’60s record. This record isn’t super layered but it isn’t always just a raw 4 piece approach. It just depended on the song — we just took it song by song in what we felt the song needed or wanted.”
Roby and Keller both acknowledge that the group has always been influenced by artists like The Band, Van Morrison, the Kinks, Rolling Stones, and Beatles, and that if one listens closely to the new album, traces of Rockpile, Thin Lizzy and Mott the Hoople might even be detected as well. As Keller explains, “We listen to a lot of different kinds of music, and of course that rubs off on us. We get on this wavelength where we will get into things at the same time. Recently, it’s been on the pop rockier side from ‘60s Kinks to ‘70s glam rock to ‘80s punk, power pop. We probably would’ve made more records like this had we stuck together all these years because we’ve always been into this type of music.”
But wait, as the saying goes, there’s more: The aforementioned High Hat, which was originally released on producer Earle’s E-Squared label, is getting a 20th anniversary reissue next month, on Jan. 11 (also via Schoolkids)—including as a limited/numbered white vinyl edition. So those Americana fans with long memories mentioned in the first paragraph will have even more reason to celebrate, as High Hat remains an acknowledged touchstone of the genre.
Worth additional note: the above-referenced 6SD reunion came about after Roby invited Keller to play with him at a solo show promoting his 2013 solo album Memories & Birds (reviewed HERE), and they wound up doing some old 6SD faves. Around the same time BLURT published an in-depth interview with Roby, and you can read it HERE.