“With their recklessly rollicking brand of “deep-fried blues-grass”, Utica, NY’s outlaw string band, Strung Sideways, is sure to leave you hollering for more!” Blending elements of bluegrass, outlaw country, blues, southern rock, Celtic and folk with a barrage of acoustic instruments, Strung Sideways have been described as everything from “darkly ironic, low-down dirty and mean to wildly hilarious, searingly cynical and everything in between”. Strung Sideways’ Jim Inman (guitar, vocals, banjitar and kazoo) and Bob Merrick (guitar, vocals, banjitar, mandolin, harmonica and kazoo) have been musical partners in crime in numerous bands and projects since 1994. Following up their SAMMY(Syracuse Area Music Awards) nominated 2009 debut album, “War Of Wits”, they released their second album, “Upsidedowntown” in the summer of 2011, with Greg Wilson on the upright bass. The disc features such songs as “Hard Times”, an autobiographical retelling of a fictional liquor store robbery, a totally sideways take on the Iron Maiden’s “Run To The Hills” and a high-octane and totally original shake up of the traditional “Oh Death”.
Inspired by the wave of modernized old-time string band and Alt-country music popping up all over the country like Old Crow Medicine Show, Hot Day At The Zoo, and Yonder Mountain String Band, to the originators of the genre like Ralph Stanley and Bill Monroe, Strung Sideways has developed quite a knack for the discovery and arrangement of traditional bluegrass and old-time standards to fit their darkly ironic personality. Crowds who were never aware that they would enjoy this raucous style of good time music were spontaneously breaking into square dances at clubs normally ruled by the rock cover scene.
Strung Sideways has seen their greatest successes to date winning over crowds at Riggiefest at the Utica Memorial Auditorium, Saranac Thursday at the F.X. Matt Brewing Company, breaking down the modern country music barrier to perform their fiery brand of old-time string band music at WFRG’s Frogfest at Verona Beach St. Park to an estimated 12 to 15 thousand people and a 2010 SAMMY (Syracuse area music awards) nomination for best Americana album of the year for their debut album, “War Of Wits”.
With the departure of Greg Wilson in 2013, Jim and Bob returned to their unique approach to live performance. Born out of their long time mutual admiration of the blues and southern-rock bands such as the Allman Brothers, their on the spot instrumental creations showcase the fact that they each truly know the other, perhaps better than they know themselves. Add in intelligently designed vocal harmonies, and a barrage of acoustic instruments from the darkness of the banjitar to their lighthearted playfulness when the kazoos come out, Strung Sideways is poised to redefine what is available in the Central New York music scene, and beyond.
Check out what they're saying Upsidedowntown!
Re: review of Upsidedowntown by Fiona O'downey
Just four words: Spontaneous Compact Disk Combustion, or SCDC: The burning of a CD without apparent presence of external source of ignition, the cause of which remained mysterious for many years, until June 18th, 2011, when it became generally accepted that the most probable reason was a planned, non spontaneous banjo and guitar wicking, leading to what is known as the Deep Fried Blues Grass Effect.
Steamy vocals and seamless instrumentals combine to make “Upsidedowntown”, Strung Sideways’ second album, the best yet. Bob Merrick, Jim Inman and Greg Wilson are not only master song smiths, but technical wizards of their instruments: banjitar, guitar, mandolin, upright bass, fiddle, harmonica, Jew’s harp, kazoo and, occasionally, bicycle horn.
Nine months in the making, the cream rises to the top in this album. Bracketed at beginning and end by the pile driving prison songs, “Hard Times” and “Oh Death”, Inman’s gritty voice rises like a howl of pain above the more mellow vocals of Merrick. The inside of this spicy musical sandwich contains the heart rending “Fall On My Knees”, followed by the disturbingly familiar “Head Full Of Voices” and “Bohemian Grove”, Merrick’s deep and painful dig at the emptiness of contemporary society. “Slither”, as well as the darkly ironic “New Tattoo” with Inman leading, is full of the pain of lost love and the dilemma of the drinking man. “Run To The Hills”, a cover of Iron Maiden’s 80’s metal classic bemoans the fate of the American Indian, while “Never More Than You”, a wailing love song, says all a man could ever need to about life and loss. The album is rounded out by “Born To Booze,” a rollicking celebration of the Blues Grass Musician and the life he loves, good or bad, right or wrong.
“Upsidedowntown”, with its songs about hard drinking men and the ruined women who love them, is timeless Blues Grass energy. Thank you, Bob, Greg and Jim and may the Force be with you, always.
Amazon.com Editorial Review:
The second album from Utica, NY area string band trio, Strung Sideways; Upsidedowntown features 10 high-energy tunes in their signature Deep-fried Blues-grass style. This disc features such songs as Hard Times, a low-down, dark and mean autobiographical retelling of a fictional liquor store robbery resulting in prison time, a totally Sideways take on the metal classic Run To The Hills and a souped-up and totally original take on the traditional Oh Death. With this effort, Strung Sideways, consisting of Jim Inman, Bob Merrick and Greg Wilson are sure to leave you out of breath hollering for more!