The Ebony Hillbillies (from the album 5 Miles from Town available on EH Music)
The recent album release, 5 Miles from Town, brands The Ebony Hillbillies as curators of tradition as well as ambassadors bringing string band music, and a variety-styled stage show, to 2019. 5 Miles from Townoffers spoken and instrumental skit snippets along with flashfire instrumentals, like album opener “Hog-Eyed Man”, and Blues-snarled vocals when The Ebony Hillbillies strut and shimmy into Willie Dixon’s “Wang Dang Doodle”. 5 Miles from Towncovers the distance between eras, mixing old-time string band sounds with contemporary hits, like The Ebony Hillbillies take on Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me”. The group’s own history begins with Henrique Prince and the sound he heard in 1930’s string bands such as The Mississippi Sheiks. Putting his formal symphony orchestra training aside, Henrique immersed himself in the sound….and then he met Norris Washington Bennett. Prior to partnering, Norris was a solo performer, busking across Europe and releasing two solo albums in Germany. The pair met and followed an instinct into Grand Central Station to busk, performing “Shenandoah”. The Ebony Hillbillies (aka the last African-American String Band in America) expanded on their lineup, adding Gloria Thomas Gassaway(vocals/bones), William “Salty Bill” Salter (upright bass), Allanah Salter(shaker percussion/vocals), Newman Taylor Baker(washboard percussion) and A.R.(“cowboy” percussion).
To accommodate the new players, The Ebony Hillbillies brought a variety of styles into the string band makeup, blending Bluegrass, Country, Rock, Soul, Folk, and Jazz while they took their busking from streetcorners to larger stages to match the additional members, performing at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center as well as television slots on BBC, NBC, CBS, and Good Morning America. If there is a particular pair of shoes for sliding into a cakewalk, haul ‘em out for “Carroll County Blues” as 5 Miles from Townjourneys back to its NYC-formative years with “I’m on My Way to Brooklyn” while The Ebony Hillbillies sway on a late-night noir R&B groove for “Fork in the Road” and address the out-of-balance relationship between police shootings and black neighborhoods in “Another Man Done Gone – Hands Up Don’t Shoot”.
Listen and buy the music of The Ebony Hillbillies from AMAZON