Gallup, NM - The Shouting Matches

from the album Grownass Man (2013)

Once upon a time, I was a young lad living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Life was pretty binary back then, I was either working or partying.  There was no in between.  Over time, I migrated across town and settled in the fashionable east side, an old blue collar neighborhood filled with great bars and music.

I became friends with these two guys - John & Mike - who straddled the line between hippie and cheesehead.  They were awesome dudes.  Their living room was a practice space for their blues act.  Together they played guitar, harmonica, and sang harmonies in a way that might remind you of Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee (if Sonny & Brownie were white, hippie, cheeseheads).

Their living room was the site of a never ending party/jam session with local musicians regularly dropping in and out.  Fortunately, John & Mike never really had jobs, except for their ice cream truck.

As life chugs along, my mind often drifts back to those days, sitting on a nasty couch with a PBR, surrounded by people jamming together without a worry in the world.  No wonder I dig Milwaukee so much.

The Shouting Matches are a group of Wisconsinites who jam a blues-rock vibe that brings me back to those times. It is a side project for these three musicians who each belong to other successful bands.  I wonder if their place has a nasty couch and PBRs.

For the past two months, I have been jamming out to their song Gallup, NM.  The song has a relaxed vibe that is established by an organ track with long, sustained chords played by Phil Cook (Megafaun).  Beneath this umbrella is some great drumming. There is something in the way Brian Moen (Peter Wolf Crier) keeps his hands and feet so busy, while never overwhelming the vibe, that I just can't get enough of.

Then there is the guitar work of of Justin Vernon (Bon Iver).  The tone of his chords are dirty and crunchy, giving way to biting lead guitar work as the song unfurls.  His vocals are stellar, as are the harmonies that join in throughout the jam.  I particularly dig when the vocals all go falsetto at the same time.  It is strained in a way that gives the song authenticity.

I keep listening to this tune, both for the vibe and the place it takes me back to.

Click Here to watch three songs from their recent set in Coachella.  The second song is Gallup, NM.