What the hell is a Wrinkle Neck Mule? A sophomoric phallic reference? Too easy. A pack animal used in the Sierra Madre mountains of Mexico to transport opium to America in the early 1900s? History channel worthy, but wrong. A band of five (or four, depending on the wind) from Richmond, Virginia carrying indie-rockish country music about the land? Eureka. Daily double.
Born somewhere on I-64 between Charlottesville and Richmond, Virginia in late 1999, the Wrinkle Neck Mules blend guitars, banjos, mandolins, pedal steel guitars, organs, kitchen sinks, drums and bass together with bluegrass-inspired harmony vocals to distill what The Independent of Raleigh, NC called a righteous Americana mishmash. The blend drinks differently from song to song. Sometimes haunting and tense; sometimes tangy with tongue firmly to cheek.
Their first record, Minor Enough, was released in 2003. It was a self-recorded and produced affair with 13 songs touching on themes like whiskey factory disasters, sterno abuse, fallen moonshiners, untimely exits, and late night discord. The disc garnered the band some nice attention in the whole alt.country-Americana-blah-blah-blah world. Emails started coming from folks in California saying they loved it. Writers in England called them a band to watch for the future. And DJs in the Netherlands dubbed Minor Enough damn good.
Riding these successes, the Mules took to the streets fulltime in 2004 playing heavily on the East Coast, but taking the show as far away as Inverness, Scotland and playing famous festivals like Milwaukees Summerfest and South Floridas Langerado. Along the way, they played with folks like Sam Bush, James McMurtry, Cracker, the Hackensaw Boys, Texas-country legend Johnny Bush, The Silos, Kevn Kinney, Mofro, Donovan Frankenreiter, Ratt (thats right!) and more.
In 2005, with all still mostly intact, the band released a 6-song EP entitled Liza and headed to Haunted Hollow Studio with producer Chris Kress (Dave Matthews Band) to record a follow up to Minor Enough. The new disc, entitled Pull the Brake, takes the Mule-sound a few steps further but stays on the quirky path set by Minor Enough. Pull the Brake was released on March 7, 2006 and contains a collaboration with Bonnie "Prince" Billy.
VIVA LOS MULES...