OB: You have a HUGE range of songs you cover. What are a couple of your favorites in particular?
Andy Burr: We think that the more different styles we can present, the more opportunities for work we’ll have. So far that’s proven true. My favorite songs tend to be the ones most recently added to our repertoire. Songs I’m liking a lot right now include “Closing Time” (Semisonic), “Streams of Whiskey” (The Pogues), and “Harvest Moon” (Neil Young).
Sara Burr: We each brought our influences and songs into the band. I was into old-timey, bluegrass, Irish, and jazz standards; Andy came more from rock, country, and reggae. We both brought folk music. Some of my current favorite songs are “Seneca Square Dance,” “Tripping Up The Stairs,” “Old Grey Cat” and “Follow Me to Carlow,” which are traditional tunes. I also favor “Bosco Stomp” and “Bayou Pon Pon” which are Cajun tunes. I love it when we “rock” them a bit.
OB: How often do you play as a Quintet versus as a duo?
AB: We did our first gig as a quintet this past February, at the Mt. Dora Music Fest: Sara on mandolin, me on guitar and harmonica, Renee on fiddle, Eddie on bass and Ronnie on drums. We’re a trio quite often. Mostly, though, it’s just Sara and I and Louie–Louie is our track machine, and he normally provides bass ‘n’ drums.
OB: Musicians in your genre are notorious for fine taste in vintage instruments. There is rumor of an 80 year old mandolin in the band. Any other instruments that would be of interest?
SB: I have to admit that I love my mandolin! It’s a 1927 Gibson snakehead–snakehead refers to the shape of the peghead. It’s an ‘A’ style instrument with a really mellow and rich tone. Lots of pickers believe the snakehead era mandolins are the best ever made by Gibson. I try other mandolins but they feel and sound like cardboard in comparison. It’s a nice mandolin, but it’s not especially valuable. I have a old fiddle at home for fiddle jam sessions. It mostly stays at home.
AB: I’m too rough on equipment to perform on a vintage guitar, so I generally use my 1990s Taylor acoustic. I have a 1950’s vintage Gibson LG-1 (acoustic), which belonged to my mother, but it stays at home.
OB: Do you think Woody Guthrie was a communist?
AB: Sure–just like Jesus was!
SB: I saw Arlo Guthrie a few years ago; it was such a treat! Actually, I think he is a transendental traveler.
OB: Do you Cover “This land is your land”?
AB: Nope; great song, though.
OB: What are the plans for Mountain Brew in 2008?
AB: I just want to keep progressing. In 2005 we did 4 shows; in ’06 we had 16 different venues with regular monthly performances at several of them; in ’07 we played at 26 different venues, again repeating regularly at several. I hope we do more in 2008.
SB: I would like to have a finished CD that would be available for those who request one. We had a few occasions where we did some recording and it was comical as well as humbling. If we can get one together it would be exciting and perhaps help further our endeavors. I would like to work on some original tunes this year to add to our repertoire.
OB: Andy, you also have a project “The Porchdogs”, how active is that project and where can we find more about it?
AB: The Porchdogs is still my main band, as far as income is concerned. We do about 100 shows a year, playing mostly Louisiana Cajun and zydeco. The work is mostly private party stuff: conventions, country clubs, house parties; but we also get a good amount of Fairs and festivals and community events. The only regular nightclub jobs we have are in Tampa, West Palm, and Jensen Beach. We mostly play in Florida, but in June, we have a gig in Indiana! Our website is www.Porchdogs.net
OB: Sara, you are also a terrific artist. Do you associate the feeling you put into your art into your music as well? Or, do you see them as two different releases?
SB: Why, thank you! And that’s a great question. Yes, the two are related. It seems that one feeds the other. I see my paintings as tonal, melodic, and expressionistic passages that have a sort of musical balance; when I play music I often experience the sounds and tones as colors, textures, and shades. I can express joy, determination–a variety of emotions–in both activities. It’s a continuous flow or cycle.
OB: How do you feel traditional Celtic music and “Pop” country relate? And, can you foresee a swing into the past coming up for current country music?
AB: Most American bluegrass and a lot of country music is derived from the old Irish/Celtic reels, and there’s quite a bit of crossover between the ‘bluegrass’ and ‘Irish’ categories on our song list. The pop country of recent years owes more to rock and rock ‘n’ roll, I think. Traditional country now has its own established genre–‘Americana’ or ‘alt.country’–which seems to be doing well, with its own devoted group of followers. I like traditional and traditional-sounding modern country music.
SB: I feel as though the traditional Celtic influenced the majority of music we call bluegrass, country and folk. Some of the songs which are sung tell the stories of their time, much like the storytelling of our current country songs. The accents change, but the images or themes of romance, war, lost love, and household pets remain universal.
OB: Do you have plans to release any recordings in the near future?
SB: We have plans for several albums: our favorite traditional / old-timey tunes; a collection of Irish favorites; an album of originals; maybe an album of Cajun songs.
AB: We’ve done some living room recording, and we recorded an album in 2006, but afterwards we felt like we could have done a better job of it. Next time, we will. You can hear some samples of those at our website: www.MountainBrew.net