Thursday night provided a look at what the Atlanta music community is all about. The three bands that took to the stage that night consider themselves family more than friends. Thursday night was about supporting a member of their family as Reverend Justin Hylton embarks on his adventure after freshly releasing an album (which was recorded and produced at Unity Studios in Atlanta), and kicking off a 2-month national tour the very next day. His friends Cold Heart Canyon and Blood on the Harp joined him on Thursday evening, as he released his first full-length album Stubborn Nail, in about ten years. The Earl was packed with people supporting a friend embarking on an immense Journey.
Cold Heart Canyon is an Americana bluegrass/pop trio that self-describes itself as “instrument swappin’, foot stompin’, swear wordin’ sons of guns.” Members Rachel Petit on lead vocals and guitar, Robert Green on upright bass, and Jenna Mobley (who was out of town for this show) on the fiddle create an animated version of a classic Americana band, bringing humor and tall tales of life discovered. The band took to the stage with spitfire Rachel Petit belting out her whiskey fueled short stories about life’s struggles and joys. Their music is meant to get your feet moving, it’s fun, and they make light of the difficulties that life tends to throw our way; you find yourself thinking “yeah been there, done that,” with a slight smile or laugh to back up the thought. The trio is in the middle of finishing their first album recording at Unity Studios that is set to be released sometime this year. We look forward to seeing what the bands album has in store for our listening pleasure.
Blood on the Harp is an Americana/Folk group out of Atlanta, Georgia. They currently have an EP Ghost(s) vol.1 released in October of last year. The string band weaves bluegrass, folk, blues and rock to their songs that tend to be heavily influenced by death. Frontman Miguel Olascuaga, sings in a melancholy tone with a slight southern twang, creating an intense emotion with his solemn tales of death and grief. They create this vintage eery Americana music that provides haunting lyrics that linger on you because of how dense and dark the subject of their songs are. Blood on The Harp provide you an experience of what real Americana music is all about, they play into every category and meld each genre with the selection of instruments each member beautifully plays to help bind their sound to be cohesive and gritty. Their performance that night took us back in time and place, where the style of music started. Miguel and company have tapped into something quite pure and unique with their vintage sounding Americana.
Reverend Hylton’s songs are his story, and Stubborn Nail is a slight autobiography about his own life and things he has experienced from “Heartbreak, addiction, partying, traveling and having a good time.” He’s a real singer-songwriter that lends its ear to an Americana sound.
Justin starts his set with “Take a Walk,” dressed in all black as he is “The Man in Black” that night. He quiets the room as he slowly begins to play. His music immediately grabs your attention with his gritty voice against his homegrown lyrics. There is something quite refreshing about seeing a musician like Justin, his music is honest, and not trying to be something it’s not. It’s simple as it’s just him, his words and a guitar. Justin belts out the lyrics to each of his songs revealing more of himself in each line. His set is everything you want from the live show, watching an artist completely expose themselves on stage by demonstrating the powerful raw emotion of the song.
As Justin makes his way through his set, he gets a little help from Robert Green on the upright bass (Cold Heart Canyon) and Jessica Almand on the fiddle, who both helped and contributed to the album. You can tell that Justin and his fan base are excited to see his adventure begin with the utmost support. He closed his set with a heartwarming version of the title track of the album “Stubborn Nail” which has an underlying message of the trouble traveling musicians can find themselves in. Hylton’s approach to the song shows that he has found his sound with the perfect amount of build, and placed transitions; it’s a great bit of music that’s appealing to the ear. We look forward to the future journeys and stories that Mr. Hylton decides to engage us with next.
More photos from the night by Mike Gerry:
Catch Reverend Hylton on tour: