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Town Mountain Fulfills Dream with ‘Dance me Down Easy’

If you have yet to hear Town Mountain, their newest release, Dance Me Down Easy: the Woodstock Sessions EP, will be a perfect place to start. Delving into their musical influences, the roots-driven quintet trekked from their hometown, Asheville, NC, to upstate New York to record at The Barn, the famous studio built by the late Band drummer Levon Helm.

Each song is recorded live with one take; their second effort under New West Records follows their label debut, the highly acclaimed Lines In the Levee (2022 Best American Album of the Year, PopMatters.)


"The creative juices got started with a buddy of ours, John Allen, who is also president of New West Records," Town Mountain guitarist/singer Robert Greer stated about their new EP. 

He felt that with seven or eight studio albums of original material, recording a covers album would be a good idea. "We jumped on it! If el presidente wants this to happen," he joked, "it's going to happen! We thought it was a really cool idea." 


Greer takes the lead vocal on Dire Straits 80s mega-hit "So Far Away." "That song has been on my brain for years," said Greer. "Being a road- musician," the guitarist added, "that song just hits to the core. It's being frustrated about what distance does to two people."


Expressing high regard for songwriting legend J.J. Cale, whose song "Devil in Disguise" is the first track on the EP, the Town Mountain frontman said that he wasn't only impressed by the man behind the rock classics "Cocaine," "After Midnight," and "The Breeze," but also his stage attire. "Where other guys had their stage clothes, Cale would come out in a white T-shirt, sunglasses and a pair of blue jeans -- he just exudes cool!"

Mandolinist Phil Barker added a personal favorite by introducing his bandmates to The Kinks song "Strangers."


 "Phil has been singing that song for at least three or four years," explained Greer. "We always would ask him, 'Hey man, what's that song?' And he would say, 'It's a cool Kinks song.' So, with this album, we had the opportunity to record it."


Taking center stage on the EP is the title track, "Dance Me Down Easy," written by Levon Helm. Greer, perhaps the most influential musician of them all, expressed how much Levon means to Town Mountain.


"We have always listened to The Band and other ensembles that Levon has been involved with. He is one of the guys, along with Jerry Garcia, that everyone in the band can agree [was] a major influence."


When asked about the famous recording location, "It's been a dream of ours," explained Greer about Levon Helm's Studios. "Not only did we get to play there, but we also got to record."

The guitar picker described the studio vibe. "Soon as you walk in there, man, you can tell it's not corporate. The high ceilings, the rough-cut lumber. … We get why [Levon Helm] built it here! 

Other highlights on the EP include the traditional "Flannery's Reprise," featuring Town Mountain fiddle player Bobby Britt. 


"We (Town Mountain) recorded it more like the traditional version on our Steady Operator album, but Bobby started toying around with it again -- really slowing it down. I was like, 'This is not going to work.' I remember being in rehearsal and asking him, 'What is your goal here?'"


After recording the song, Greer was surprised by the result, "It ended up being cooler than I thought!" Giving credit to their fiddle player, "Bobby came up with the brilliant idea." 


Through various personnel changes, Town Mountain continues gaining fans. Forming in 2004 in Asheville, NC, a small music landscape compared to the bustling Nashville or LA music scenes, Greer described the original lineup as a "partying drunken mob." "We were young and spinning our wheels," adding, "We didn't have a booking agent for years."


Reminiscing about the lean times, "We would look out at the crowd and ask if there are any generous souls who have a place where five knuckleheads with sleeping bags can stay."

Seven albums later, Town Mountain, which now features band members Zack Smith (bass) and Devon Neil (drums), along with Greer, Barker, and Britt, is proud of what it created.


"For a small band that started in a grassroots kind of way, to still be going and employing other people who have families, helping them provide…," the guitarist paused, "We're proud of that man."



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