A ribbon of smoke rises through the hemlocks and maples. A bewitching scent floats on the mountain breeze. The electrified sound of people making home-grown music echoes through the holler. You turn off a rural two-lane blacktop and onto Stoney Clove Lane, a tree-ceilinged dirt road frequented by bears, deer, and musicians.
If someone said you'd be heading toward a couple of moonshiners working on a potent batch, they wouldn't be far off.
Jeremy Bernstein and Adam Widoff, who write, perform and record as Stoney Clove Lane (named for the road), may not be dealing in unlawful production of spirits, but they do have an equally intoxicating concoction for you: Stoney Clove Lane's tastiest CD yet - Stay With Me.
Like white lightnin', a combustible mix of ingredients has been employed to produce this homemade mix. But instead of corn, yeast and sugar, SCL combines funk, rock, and folk; instead of a metal still for fermenting the mash, they dump their tunes from analog tape into a computer; and instead of bottling it in mason jars, they press it onto CDs.
Stay With Me is Stoney Clove Lane's third and strongest collection of tunes. Previous offerings have the same diverse elements, but this new release features a richer melodicism, more assured vocals from Bernstein and a fatter dose of Widoff's swirling, lyrical Les Paul. And if you thought a banjo could happily co-exist in a funk workout, the opening track "Crawl" proves you're right. And can a band enamored of expansive psychedelia and album-length songs produce a CD of lean, mostly-three-minute tunes? Apparently so: Stay With Me shows that Bernstein and Widoff have learned a lot about economy from both hip-hop and old-time country blues.
Guitarist-lead vocalist Bernstein writes the lyrics, which range from Nature Boy wonderment to good old fashioned man-mischief. Widoff orchestrates the lush harmonies and plays almost everything else (Hammond B-3, drums, bass, slide, etc.). They bring that and more to the table, including resumes that range from national tours with established artists to formative years spent in the hotbed of music and culture that is Woodstock, NY.
Widoff has toured and recorded with Toshi Reagon and Robert Wilson, while Bernstein spent his Woodstock youth rubbing dirty elbows with the likes of John Sebastian - who guests on the back porch love song "By Your Side." And then there are the adventures they've had sharing the stage with P-Funk; the Mothership's celebrated percussionist-vocalist Mike "Clip" Payne often performs with SCL and adds distinctive rhythm to the Al Green-meets-Crazy Horse rave-up "Mine O Mine."
Several years spent honing their dynamic and unpredictable live show with a solid line-up of Woodstock-area musicians has made Stoney Clove Lane a force with which to be reckoned and has led to their recent signing with Woodstock MusicWorks. In the grand Woodstock tradition, an SCL performance is an open celebration where the songs take on the contours of the crowd and the room; where hippies, rednecks, old-timers and kids all come together and joyfully partake.
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