Urban Hillbilly Quartet

May 19, 2005

Band Review:

The Urban Hillbilly Quartet

The A-List

Fundamental Records

Andrew Olson

Reader Weekly

The A List is the eclectic prairie band Urban Hillbilly Quartet’s “Best Of" album, highlighting over six years of music from 1995 through 2001. They teeter from country to folk with a firm sound of bluegrass always swaying to the beat.

The fixtures of the band, originally from St. Paul, over the years have been Erik Brandt (guitar, accordion, piano, lead vocals) and Jeremy Szopinski (electric guitar). They perform regularly at nightclubs, bars, colleges, festivals, park bandshells, coffeeshops and anywhere else with an ear for great music. The songs roll through the years and capture many styles and influences of music. “Living In The City" is loose-jaw banjo hillbilly music with roundhouse fiddlin’ moving along to the beat. “Indelible" has a crisp country sound and is a top-notch, clear recording. There’s also is a violin solo on top of modern country being serenaded by swirling guitar on the piece. In “Stars Look Down" you can almost picture the singer and the music dancing together, it’s sweet.

The sound changes when you hear, “Hot Veca (Remix)" having a Euro intro fade into a French sounding jam. “Nightmare" has a bluegrass intro like Trampled By Turtles or Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, but a more twanging voice. It compliments “St. Paul Town" which is an excellent piece of music. It has a slow slide silhouetting the moonlight while banjo and violin caress the evening in their grasp. Imagine an old country bar and a jukebox playing while their lyrics, “I will miss you" play.

“This Train" was a live recording and showed what Urban Hillbillies’ sound like when they take their polished music to the people. The guitar keeps ringing in a Blind Melon tone, while the lyrics ride the bassline. They have comical descriptions in the liner notes of their album about how the band formed. According to the literature, “Erik Brandt was born Endicott Rasmenclowder, a natural wall-flower whose parents forgot he existed. He changed his name and swore to become a rock star." It also reads that Jeremy Szopinski was, “born a rock star on planet Stratocaster, he came to Earth in search of buckwheat pancakes." Whatever buckwheat pancakes are we hope they found them, and keep your eyes peeled for these bluegrass rockstars when they roll through Duluth.