Sunday, May 6, 2012

Eateries and Watering Holes: Rock Bottom

White House: Rock Bottom


Wouldn’t “Rock Bottom” be a great name for your local watering hole where you can disappear for days? The important thing to remember is it “ain’t very far away,” especially after your woman has packed up and headed back to momma.

White House billed itself as “Bluegrass's New Supergroup” when they released their debut album back in 2003. The five string wizards (who all lived in White House, Tn., a suburb north of Nashville) included Jason Carter, Missy Raines, Larry Stephenson, Charlie Cushman, and David Parmley. Carter has been fiddling with Del McCoury Band's for a couple decades. Bassist Raines was IBMA's Bass Player of the Year from 1998-2001. A regular Grand Ole Opry guest, mandolinist Larry Stephenson has fronted his own band for 30 years. Cushman started playing (at age 14) with Carl Tipton and has appeared regularly on the Opry with the Mike Snider Band. Finally, guitarist (and former Bluegrass Cardinal) David Parmley also has his own band, Continental Divide, and has won several awards over the years.

Despite the impressive credentials of each band member, I believe that White House was a part-time band. At the time of its release, I found White House to have a strong cohesive presence. They played like they’d been together for decades. Being friends and neighbors must have helped them achieve their clarion traditionally-rooted bluegrass sound.

With lead vocals sung by Parmley, “Rock Bottom” was written by a well-known bluegrass songwriter, the late Randall Hylton. While it’s a common message about breakup driving one to the local watering hole, Hylton once said that “Simplicity is the key…I feel that songs must touch a person’s emotions, and simplicity makes it easier to do this.” That’s why I also think that “Rock Bottom” would be the perfect name for the tavern just around the corner.

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