Playing Possum at Murphy's
The High Country's own alt-country rockers return to Murphy's Restaurant and Pub for an Oct. 16 show, performing with Athens, Ga., act The Corduroy Road.
Both bands have previously performed together, playing a joint gig this past August.
"I think it's a great fit," said David Brewer, lead and rhythm guitarist and drummer for Possum Jenkins. "Corduroy Road has incredible energy and great harmonies. It was a real pleasure playing with them in August, so I think it'll be a real pleasure to do it again."
The Oct. 16 show comes on the heels of Possum Jenkins' latest record, Collection of Bad Habits, the band's fourth album but third independent studio release (their first was released online). Bad Habits includes its share of new songs, along with some Possum favorites that, up until now, have only been performed live.
Often compared to alt-country titans The Drive-By Truckers, Possum Jenkins further delves into that road-worn territory, offering several tracks with a darker edge.
"It's definitely more somber than our other releases," Brewer said. "It's not depressing, but the album has our first real slow songs."
In that respect, Brewer sees Bad Habits as a considerable dynamic shift, though it still sports some of "the most rocking songs we've recorded."
Naturally, studio sessions bear significant differences from live performances, with isolated tracks identifying every minute variation of sound. At the same time, this allows musicians to scrutinize their work and even fine-tune it for the stage.
"There's nothing on this record that we can't do live," Brewer said. "It's taken some adjusting, since some of the songs are stylistically not as rocking, but this was a lot of fun. It definitely forced us to do things we've never done before live."
The album also features guest performances by Will Straughn on dobro and Aaron Burleson on keyboards - instruments not typically found at Possum's live shows - while band members take a turn at acoustic playing.
"Sometimes, you just have to re-imagine these songs," Brewer said. "We've never been an acoustic band ... but this album features more acoustic stuff, so we need to find ways to express that on stage, or just say this is the record versus the live show. It's a work in progress, but every band is a work in progress."
The album's title is a line from the track, "Ruined Road," and stays in keeping with Possum's essential country elements. "Our numerous bad habits are chronicled in various ways throughout the record," Brewer said.
And the band has had plenty of time to let those habits develop. Featuring Dave Willis on lead, rhythm and slide guitar and drums, Jared Church on bass, Nathan Turner on rhythm guitar and drums, Brent Buckner on harmonica and Brewer on drums, lead and rhythm guitar, Possum Jenkins was born in January 2004.
Minus Buckner on harmonica, the band was slated to play its first show at Canyons in Blowing Rock on a night saturated with snowfall. "It was snowing to beat the band," Brewer said, and literally, since Canyons cancelled the gig.
Remembering that a band from off the mountain was scheduled to play Murphy's in Boone that same night, Brewer called the pub's event organizer and, true to his suspicion, learned that band had cancelled due to the snow.
"We had an absolute blast that first night, and we've had an absolute blast 150 times since, all over North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia," Brewer said. "I'd like to think we've all become better musicians, but we've all become incredibly close friends. We've encountered bands that are more soulful, play more shows, but they don't have the bond of friendship that we have. When all's said and done, we'll still be hanging out, regardless of whether or not we're playing music."
Preferably, they'll be doing both. Brewer described Possum Jenkins' growth as glacial, with a mentality of "slow and steady wins the race." Each year brings bigger shows and better opportunities.
Just last week, the band got its first daytime airplay on WNCW, though Possum Jenkins is no stranger to the popular public radio station - the band's previous records have each been featured on "Local Color."
Brewer hopes Bad Habits will bask in that limelight, but in the meantime, the record can be found at 641rpm and Fat Cats Music & Video in downtown Boone, and online at amiestreet.com and cdbaby.com.
For the upcoming performance, Brewer promises plenty of Bad Habits, along with some old favorites. After all, old habits die hard.
Possum Jenkins and the Corduroy Road perform Friday, Oct. 16, at 10 p.m. at the Murphy's Restaurant and Pub. The cover's $5, and only those 21 and up will be admitted. Murphy's Restaurant and Pub is located at 747 W. King St. in downtown Boone. For more information, call (828) 264-5117.
For more information about Possum Jenkins, visit http://www.possumjenkinsband.com.