After a crazy night on Thanksgiving, I headed down to Franklin for something a little more laid back. Kimbro's Pickin' Parlor is a quaint little venue in an old house in downtown Franklin, where the band plays on the floor and the staff becomes your old friend as soon as you walk in the door. Stillhouse Hollow is the perfect act for this venue, laid back enough to not over power the room but entertaining to young and old alike. The last time I saw these guys was at Centennial Park, opening the weekly Shakespeare event. This time they had the night all to themselves, allowing for a broader showcase of their catalog.
Guitarist and main songwriter Nathan Griffin writes songs that make him seem like a seasoned old mountain man, although I can't see him being much more than 30 years old. His songs like "Whiskey", about bootleggin', and "Dakota", about a traveling band, have an old timey charm that really defines their sound. Singer/Harmonica player Joel Meeks on the other hand writes songs such as "Miss Meg" and one of my favorites "Rocky Road Toadstools" with a Shell Silverstien sort of style, using clever phrases and telling funny stories. This vocal duo works really well for Stillhouse. With Meeks' powerful pipes and Griffin's smooth voice, their harmonies are flawless. Scott Calpin on mandolin adds his own unique style which may sound a bit off sometimes while soloing, but his solid rhythm holds down the beat and he always seems to come back around at the right time. Tonight we were treated to a special guest appearance by local guitar guru Kenny Meeks in the second and third set adding a cool slide electric sound to songs such as "Pimp Hand" and Bob Dylan's "Watching the River Flow", among others.
Another great asset of this band is their wide range of cover selections. From old standards like "Salty Dog" to bluegrass favorites like "Midnight Moonlight", to their own versions of songs like Cake's "Stick Shifts and Safety Belts" and The Band's "Ophelia", they never cease to amaze me with what they might pull out. Whether it's Joel or Nate singing, they always seem to nail every lyric no matter how rapid fire or complicated they may be. These guys have a really polished sound while still being able to have lots of fun. They are starting to branch out over the Southeast and their formula appears to be working. Just show up with a guitar, mandolin and a lunchbox full of harps and play great music that everyone can get into.