March 20, 2013

B-sides

Not the R.E.M. album

Not long ago, it seemed like Blunt Honey wouldn’t be planning to release their debut album, or playing a release show at Headliners. With one member battling health issues, singer/guitarist/banjo player Jonathon Mitchell has also been playing with another group, Nellie Pearl.

But on Friday, March 28, Blunt Honey returns to share songs from Green, with the Rumpke Mountain Boys closing and Strung Like a Horse opening at 9 p.m. LEO spoke with Mitchell about his Bluntedness.

The trio (also including fiddler Emily Caudill and mandolinist Sean Michael Jennings) lives together in what Mitchell describes as “a big house,” and they recorded a version of the album by themselves at home. Technical problems led them to DSL Studios in Jeffersontown, where it was completed.

“We do it all live, as a bluegrass band,” says Mitchell, though they were unable to play together around one microphone, in the live bluegrass tradition. “My voice is a lot more powerful than Emily’s, so working out of one mic doesn’t really go down the way we wanted it.”

They recorded nine songs in one day, with minimal overdubs added later. The so-called “progressive bluegrass” bandleader agrees it’s a good time commercially for a band like theirs, though their touring options are currently limited. Mitchell cites the Punch Brothers and Trampled By Turtles as kindred spirits.

“We like to call it bluegrass because we don’t like to chop it down into sub-genres. But we’re not really traditional bluegrass.”

More important was giving the album itself a label.

“We decided to call it Green because it’s our first album, and green’s the color of birth and springtime, and it’s aesthetically pleasing. Plus, our band is called Blunt Honey. It seemed appropriate.”

To spread your pro-marijuana message to everyone?

“Uh, yeah, I mean, kind of … I don’t know if the whole band is as all about it as I am, but I’m an active marijuana smoker, and I like to use my music to make that known sometimes. So that was part of it.”

Smoke ’em if you got ’em at facebook.com/BluntHoney.