Montana Slim String Band: Slim Pickins

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By: Dennis Cook

A lone mandolin announces their arrival. Like much of the full-length debut from the Montana Slim String Band, it’s a classically high lonesome sound adapted to something quite non-Bill Monroe. While the pluck and snap of the instruments harks back to a fine lineage of mountain music and bluegrass, there’s subtle modernity to their tales, appealing boy-girl harmonies and nuanced playing. Montana Slim is a direct descendent of fellow S.F. region granddaddies Old And In The Way, and they exude a similar love for good songs played with open feeling and strong sincerity. From the remodeled sea shanty that begins this 11-track song cycle to the speedily picked ode to love’s intoxicating fullness that closes the collection, Slim Pickins encapsulates a very pure string band aesthetic that’s likely to flip the wig of anyone into Hot Buttered Rum, Chatham County Line and other contemporaries. But like these peers, there’s a personal thread stitched into the traditional vibe, a line of color that emerges in pockets and accents that stray off the beaten path. This ain’t no “jam-grass” but it’s clear there’s plenty going on upstairs in this classy, strongly musical ensemble that Mother Maybelle would have loved.

The CD release show for Slim Pickins takes place Friday, March 20 at Cafe du Nord in San Francisco.