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Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2011

Sanctified Grumblers

No Lie (Bloodshot)

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On a certain magic strip of Royal Street in New Orleans' French Quarter, tourists and locals alike blend into a seamless heap that is but a background setting for the top-shelf herd of street musicians. It's a daily world of rippling washboards, wailing harmonicas, mostly acoustic guitar and bass strings, banjo, kick drum, maybe a jug, sometimes clarinet and, most distinctly, that gaseous, overfed tuba ceaselessly farting out the low ends. This is the same parallel existence occupied by Chicago's Sanctified Grumblers.

Tales of boozin', ramblin', grindin' stumps, bein' mean, bein' treated mean, sawin' logs, more boozin' and many other appropriately apostrophed acts of rural, old-timey blues badassery make up No Lie. There are traces of the Mississippi Sheiks (whose “Jailbird Lovesong” gets covered), Blind Boy Fuller (“9 Bar”), Blind Blake (“Gary Went to New Orleans”), the Old Crow Medicine Show (“EZ Ridin' Grumblers”) and a hint of what Mumford & Sons might approach if they spent a lot more time at their local record store. In short, this is a band to vie for the late-night set on the front porch in busker heaven.

Sure, over 17 tracks and a few flat vocal deliveries, the formula starts to wear a bit thin. But a good time doesn't know when to quit. And the Grumblers, thankfully, get at that old underlying N'awlins idiom: Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.


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