Grandfather Child, The Mastersons, Lilly Hiatt & The Dropped Ponies, Kalen Nash

New West Records & Normaltown Records X-Mas THROWDOWN

Grandfather Child

The Mastersons

Lilly Hiatt & The Dropped Ponies

Kalen Nash

Thu, December 6, 2012

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 8:30 pm


Off Sale

This event is 18 and over

Grandfather Child
Grandfather Child
The Mastersons
The Mastersons
The Mastersons.
Husband and wife, singing and playing together.
And they're each deft instrumentalists, and they've spent years playing in others' bands
before coming together as a unit. They're bound by music and an uncommon depth of
companionship, they're good enough to make Steve Earle swoon, and all of that sounds
quite nice.
Until 16 and a half seconds into track one, when Eleanor Whitmore begins singing, "The
twitch in my left eye came back today."
"Yeah, we're not exactly gazing lovingly at each other while we're playing these songs,"
says guitarist Chris Masterson. "Sometimes the 'couple' thing can seem a bit schmaltzy.
We're more a band than a duo, and we're not going to be George and Tammy. We
might not even be John and Exene."
That's not to say that these folks don't love each other, or that they aren't of a piece. It's
just that listening to The Mastersons - either live or on their immediately engaging,
musically expansive debut album, Birds Fly South (due out April 10 on New West
Records) - isn't akin to eavesdropping on two soulmates' impossibly intimate
conversation. This is more fun than that, with bright melodies that lead to dark lyrics,
inventive harmonies and enough sparkle and twang to fashion a Porter Wagoner suit.
Together, Whitmore (who plays guitar, violin, mandolin and most anything else with
strings) and Masterson arrive at a singular blend that Emmylou Harris speaks of as "the
third voice," one distinct from its individual elements.
"Eleanor on her own has a beautiful voice, far better than mine," Masterson says. "But
when we come together, something bigger happens."
That "something bigger" is captured in full on Birds Fly South, an album with soul and
groove and teeth and not an ounce of schmaltz. Like the Jayhawks or Buddy & Julie
Miller, it exists in an expansive territory that encompasses rock, pop, blues and country,
but this is not an "If you like x, then you'll like y" kind of record. It's an unexpected and
frequently astonishing melding of sensibilities, from two unique yet perfectly-matched
Both the Denton, Texas-born Whitmore and Houston-reared Masterson have been
musicians for as long as they can recall. Whitmore's parents were both musicians, her
mother an opera singer and her dad a folksinger who piloted Delta airplanes for a living.
She began playing fiddle at age four, and she and sister Bonnie (now a touring
songwriter) played in the family band as kids, and she studied fiddle with Texas swing
master Johnny Gimble. Masterson was playing searing blues in Houston clubs at age
13, and he spent his adolescence as a disciple of blues greats Big Walter Price and TBone Walker.
"We were both doomed from the start," Whitmore laughs. "Actually, we were lucky. It's
rare to have supportive parents that believed and expected we would play music and be
successful. Most people that have a passion for music aren't that fortunate."
Whitmore and Masterson apprenticed for years with other musicians, she with Regina
Spektor, Susan Gibson, Kelly Willis, Diana Ross, Will Hoge and others, he in the bands
of Jack Ingram, Son Volt, Bobby Bare Jr. and more. They met in 2005 and each
Venue Information:
40 Watt Club
285 West Washington St
Athens, GA, 30601