Lazybirds celebrate ‘American Roots’

Article Published: Nov. 15, 2012 | Modified: Nov. 15, 2012
Lazybirds celebrate ‘American Roots’

“American Roots” is the name of the new album by the Lazybirds, and it continues the High Country band’s tradition of bringing to life early 20th century songs with an up-tempo jazz and country blues feel to them.

While the group is known for providing the musical fuel for fun dance parties whenever they play live, on their albums they get to explore more eclectic fare. Instead of a non-stop barrage of recorded songs that are all high-powered and of the same tempo, on “American Roots,” the band thankfully mixes up the styles and grooves of the 14 cuts offered.

Fronting the Lazybirds is guitarist, vocalist, harmonica player and songwriter Jay Brown. The band also features James T. Browne on drums and vocals, Mitchell Johnston on bass and vocals and Alfred Michels, who provides swing guitar, fiddle and vocals.

The Lazybirds not only recorded songs on the project written by great artists, such as Willie Dixon, Louis Prima, the Alabama Sheiks and West Virginia Music Hall of Famer Billy Edd Wheeler, they also brought some original music to the table.

Brown penned three new songs, including the early 1960s feel of “End of the World Blues,” the mid-tempo guitar-led “Backroads Boogie” and the country blues rocker “Gettin’ Up in the Mornin’.” Johnston contributes a fun and swinging call-and-response cut called “Motion.”

The group’s diversity is exemplified by three songs in a row, cuts three through five, which run the gamut from the jazz stylings of the familiar standard, “My Blue Heaven,” to the hillbilly rocker, “Ode to the Little Brown Shack Out Back,” written by Wheeler to the straight-up blues of Dixon’s “Mellow Down Easy.”

Another fun cut from this album is “O Marie,” written by the late and great Louis Prima, who is also known for recording the wonderful musical soundtrack to the original Disney movie, “Jungle Book.”
The Lazybirds have always been a fan of Bob Dylan, and this time around they put their own spin on “Wallflower,” bringing an Appalachian harmony singing approach to this classic Dylan song.

The group also tackles some tunes written by Public Domain as well, traditional cuts that go way back in time, such as “Devil’s Trilogy” and the album closer, “Bye Bye Baby.” On the Alabama Sheiks’ song “Travelin’ Railroad Man Blues,” the group does a good job of purposely recording the cut as if it was 1935, making it sound rustic, real and of that time.

The only thing missing is the sound of an old 78rpm vinyl record scratching as it spins on the turntable underneath a heavy worn-down needle.

For more information on the Lazybirds and “American Roots,” visit

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