If you’ve ever been inside the Antiquarium Bookstore in Brownville, Neb. you know it feels a little bit like a cross between a shrine, your grandma’s old house and Belle’s favorite library from Beauty & The Beast.
And without disturbing its 150,000 books, if you had to pick a Nebraska band whose aesthetics matched up well enough with the store to record and album there, it would surprise no one if you came up with Bud Heavy & the High Lifes. That happens to be the plan for the Lincoln folk bluegrass band as they’re slated to record an EP in the Brownsville spot this month.
In a broader musical landscape where a wave of bluegrass revivalism is sometimes referred to as “newgrass,” Bud Heavy & the High Lifes are like crab grass. Their brand is a choir of metal and wires — tough, tried and true. With the gritty and joyful bounce of dust bowls and steel driving it’s music that could easily be said to soundtrack an American past.
But they’re also playing it now. It says something if you’ve seen Bud Heavy & the High Lifes live, they don’t dress or talk like extras from O Brother Where Art Thou? or side characters from the The Grapes of Wrath. Their playing of this old-timey music may be preservational by virtue of the fact that they add it to the diverse landscape of Lincoln music in 2013, but there’s no sense of relic fetishism here. If you heard the band the last time they were on KZUM on Soundcheck Nebraska, you heard them burn through 25 minutes of music without much more than a breath.
It might also not surprise you to learn that a good chunk of Bud Heavy come from punk rock backgrounds. It’s in the breakneck launches and landings of the bluegrass you’re about to hear. There’s a pace and tone emanating from Max Morrissey (banjo), Casey Hollingsworth (mandolin), Kenny Kinlund (bass), Emma Nelson (fiddle) and Jeremy Wurst (guitar) that when it’s at its musical height doesn’t seem to pay too much attention to what century its in.
You can see Bud Heavy in a slew of shows coming up. They’re at the Barley Street Tavern on Nov. 23, Duffy’s Tavern on Dec. 1 out in Roca Tavern on Dec. 7 and Meadowlark Coffee on Dec. 13.
But first, the five-piece joined us live in studio on Hear Nebraska FM. All together now, here is Bud Heavy & The High Lifes:
Chance Solem-Pfeifer is the host of Hear Nebraska FM. Tune in next week when he’ll be joined by Manic Pixie Dream Girls. Reach Chance at firstname.lastname@example.org.