Somewhere between the blues and bluegrass, you’ll find the Howlin’ Brothers. The old-time-inspired trio is based in Nashville, yet they’re hardly ever home.
However, those endless travels sparked a few song ideas for their newest album, Trouble. For example, the high-intensity “Night and Day” emerged after performing at a Canadian music festival.
“We were playing up at the Winnipeg Folk Fest, and I got to catch Bambino and his set,” says Ian Craft, who plays fiddle and banjo in the Howlin’ Brothers. “It was awesome. I got to see, like, 400 people as soon as his set started, bobbing in time. I’d never seen anything like it. So I kinda used his idea of rhythm — playing straight rhythm — through the whole song.
“And we’d been working like dogs,” Craft adds with a knowing laugh, “so it was like that idea of working non-stop.”
Of course, the Howlin’ Brothers are still traveling relentlessly. This coming weekend, they’ll play two shows in Indiana and traverse the Midwest in early September. But they’ll be back in Nashville for an official showcase at the Americana Music Festival on Sept. 18.
With everybody contributing vocals, Craft is joined in the lineup by Ben Plasse on upright bass and Jared Green on guitar and harmonica. The good-natured guys met in college in Ithaca, New York, then moved to Nashville to pursue a music career. Trouble was produced by Brendan Benson, a rock musician who discovered them at an old-time picking party.
“I definitely think we all come from the blues and came to bluegrass and old-time later,” Craft concludes. “We just had an awesome quote [from Time Out Chicago] that said, ‘A distinctly bluegrass take on the blues.’ I think that sums us up pretty good.”
Don’t miss the CMT Edge live performance of the Howlin’ Brothers’ “Night and Day.”