‘Good and Gone’

By Jeff Eason (eason@mountaintimes.com)

Article Published: Jun. 20, 2013 | Modified: Jun. 20, 2013
‘Good and Gone’

Most albums are recorded in professional recording studios. The new Amantha Mill album, “Good and Gone,” was recorded in Howard’s Creek Baptist Church outside of Boone.

“We decided to do something different this time around,” bassist and vocalist Becca Eggers-Gryder said. “It was recorded in a very warm room with great acoustics. Recording this album was not as stressful as recording has been in the past. Maybe that’s because we did it in a church.”

Another twist to the recording process was that Eggers-Gryder’s husband, Kelvin Gryder, served as the sound engineer for the project.

“He used to run our sound, but then with taking care of the kids it got kind of hard to do,” Eggers-Gryder said. “But now that the last one’s just graduated from high school, it looks like we’ll be able to work on things together more.”

The album opens with the rollicking bluegrass number, “If You’re Ever in Oklahoma,” originally written by J.J. Cale. With Kevin Eller’s rapidly rolling banjo licks leading the way, the song sets the stage for Amantha Mill’s signature sound.

The band utilizes the five traditional bluegrass instruments: guitar, banjo, upright acoustic bass, fiddle and mandolin, so that even when they take on a non-bluegrass tune, it is infused with a distinctly bluegrass flavor.

Such is the case with “House of the Rising Sun.” Originally written by Alan Price, it has previously been performed in the folk, blues and rock genres. In the hands of Amantha Mill, the song starts out slowly with only Eggers-Gryder’s voice and Bill Helms’ guitar. The other instruments begin to join in, giving it a nice, full bluegrass arrangement.

The album contains a satisfying blend of new tunes and traditional chestnuts from the worlds of bluegrass, gospel, country and pop. Carter Stanley and Ruby Rakes’s “Clinch Mountain Backstep” is a great bluegrass instrumental that gives each of the instrumentalists in the band a chance to shine.

Bill Monroe’s “Can’t You Hear Me Callin’” is another bluegrass classic that benefits from the Amantha Mill treatment on the new album.

There are also some fine covers of more contemporary songwriters, such as Gillian Welch’s “Orphan Girl” and Guy Clark and Shawn Camp’s “Stop, Look Listen (Cow Catcher Blues).”

The album also features three songs written by Eggers-Gryder and Helms, “Smelly Hound,” “Stony Knoll” and “Good and Gone.” These originals stand perfectly at home with the classics tunes on the album.

“Good and Gone” finds a band that has matured and taken possession of its own signature sound. And that’s good news for bluegrass fans.

Amantha Mill Live

Amantha Mill has a number of live gigs in the area this summer. The band will take the front porch at the Jones House in Boone as part of the Concerts at the Jones House series on Friday, June 28. On Sunday, June 30, the band will perform at the Orchard at Altapass, beginning at 3 p.m.

At this year’s Doc and Rosa Lee Watson Music Fest ’n Sugar Grove, Amantha Mill will perform at 5 p.m. Friday, July 12, and 11:45 a.m. Saturday, July 13, in addition to a 1 p.m. show inside the museum on Saturday. The band regularly performs every first Friday of the month at the Todd General Store.

Copies of “Good and Gone” are available at Boone Drug, at Amantha Mill live shows and through http://www.cdbaby.com.

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