Bozeman’s popular bluegrass band, Laney Lou and the Bird Dogs, has released their second album, recorded live at a Forest Service cabin. The five-piece string band melds Lena (Laney) Schiffer’s superb pipes with great instrumental chops from brothers Matt (banjo, slide guitar, vocals) and Ethan (stand-up bass) Demarais; Brian Kassay on fiddle, mandolin, harmonica and vocals; and Josh Moore, lead guitar and vocals. Schiffer also adds rhythm guitar and percussion.
The group met through Craigslist. Their raw energy and authentic feel comes from the marvelous singing of vocalist Schiffer and lots of old-timey instrumental breaks infused with blues, country and folk nuances. Cool harmonies abound as well.
Moore tumbles out the lyrics on the quick banjo knee-slapper, “Granny Does Your Dog Bite,” one of their seven originals. They harmonize on the “No child, no” chorus, adding pauses and grand bass thumps. Scalding fiddle-sawing adds to the zeal. Fun!
“Truckin’” is terrific swamp blues; Schiffer and Moore share a duet lead, giving it a gospel feel. The mournful sound is imbued with minor chords and lots of quavery slide guitar.
Schiffer’s clear mid-soprano shines on the waltzy “Bailing Water,” and “Gone” starts slow, with forlorn, silky guitar. The dynamics build from pretty double-stops on the fiddle to up-tempo frailing banjo, hurtling off like a train as Matt Demarais sings about running from the cops. Wild!
Schiffer destroys the cover, “Ruby Are You Mad at Your Man.” She wails on the verses, bending notes on long tones with ease, and goes stratospheric on “Ruby” before the ensemble jams out. I like it!
“Lonely Tracks,” written by Josh Moore and his friend, Brandon Jackson, has a loping country feel with swooping fiddle lines. It will appear in a documentary called “My Country No More,” due out in spring. Good exposure for this great band!
Visit the crew at www.thebird-dogs.com.
– Mariss McTucker