- May 3, 2019 at 8:00pm
- CSPS Hall
- $16 advance | $19 door
Although their sound is rooted in traditional bluegrass, Boston’s Mile Twelve surveys a broader landscape on their newest album, City on a Hill. It’s a project that feels contemporary, thoughtfully crafted, and relevant.
Which makes sense, as the band comprises five of the most promising young musicians in bluegrass: David Benedict (mandolin), Catherine “BB” Bowness (banjo), Bronwyn Keith-Hynes (fiddle), Evan Murphy (guitar, lead vocals), and Nate Sabat (bass, lead vocals).
“Original bluegrass music, written and played by young people, is very much alive,” says Murphy. “We’re playing it in a way that feels honest. This album isn’t political in the sense that we’re beating people over the head with anything, we just tried to tell stories that feel authentic.”
It’s been little more than five years since the five musicians first began meeting each other at house parties and pick-up gigs around Boston. Before long they were a band, and soon after were taking home multiple Momentum Awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association. In 2018 they received IBMA nominations both for Emerging Artist and Instrumental Performance of the Year.
Asked about influences, Murphy cites Alison Krauss & Union Station for their precise arrangements and execution, Del McCoury Band for their grit and groove, and Punch Brothers for their genre-bending virtuosity. As for writing, he praises the mastery of Gillian Welch and Jason Isbell for their ability to tell a fully-realized story within the confines of a three-minute song.
Produced by Bryan Sutton and engineered by Ben Surratt, City on a Hill begins with a lively rendition of Richard and Linda Thompson’s “Down Where the Drunkards Roll,” then move to explore the experiences of a war veteran with PTSD (“Jericho”), a Jewish immigrant fleeing war (“Liberty”), and a man who cannot escape the stigma of the penal system (“Innocent Again”). Things wind down with the poignant “Where We Started,” a portrait of small-town life written by John Cloyd Miller.
The band takes its name from the mile marker that sits at Boston’s southern border, a location they’ve passed countless times while heading out on tour. The band has found receptive audiences across the globe, touring all over North America as well as Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.