Amongst many attempts to describe The Whiskey Gentry, perhaps the best take was from Paste Magazine who called them a “toe-tapping, steamrolling kind of band, its fingers picking deep into fields of bluegrass…with a punk-inspired kick drum.”
The Whiskey Gentry’s catchy tunes reel in listeners spanning from music novices to mainstream audiences, while their musical mastery garners the professional praise and respect of those with the most sophisticated of musical palates.
Two albums in, both co-produced by John Keane (R.E.M., Uncle Tupelo), they recently gained official recognition as a finalist in the Chris Austin Songwriting Competition held at MerleFest. From local haunts to the Nashville music industry’s elite, the band’s burgeoning followers and supporters have quite literally set the stage for nationwide venues and air waves.
Initially a quintet formed by husband and wife duo Lauren Staley and Jason Morrow, the band’s debut album in 2011 Please Make Welcome became a critically-acclaimed success, quickly launching the Atlanta-based band into markets from Tampa to NYC, and at festivals priding themselves as the first to showcase the next best thing.
They have since expanded on both a physical and geographic level, becoming a septet comprised of Chesley Lowe on banjo, Sammy Griffin on bass, Price Cannon on drums, Michael Smith on mandolin, and Rurik Nunan on fiddle.
Their most recent album, Holly Grove, is another leap in the band’s ongoing evolution on a musical and social scale. In early 2013, The Whiskey Gentry rallied fans to raise funds for studio sessions through a Kickstarter campaign, which ultimately far surpassed their goals and expectations.
Local artists and established pros alike pitched in as well, creating a true ensemble effort on songs such as a duet with Butch Walker on “One Night in New York,” and cameos throughout the album by Les Hall, the Dappled Grays, and Radiolucent.
Mastered by Glenn Schick (Indigo Girls, Drive-By Truckers), Holly Grove infuses elements of country, bluegrass, folk, rock, and punk with a mix of poppy and poignant lyrics, fiery and heartfelt vocals, traditional and avant-garde sound, honesty, edginess, and entertainment all around.
Luring listeners in, capturing their ears, hearts, and minds, and blazing new trails in Americana music and beyond, The Whiskey Gentry is only just warming its heels.
Hunter S. Thompson wrote that “the whiskey gentry” was “a pretentious mix of booze, failed dreams, and a terminal identity crisis.” Though they are never lacking offers from fans for a shot of whiskey, their dreams are becoming reality, their identity is distinct, their future on a steady crescendo.