Between the Wars

The Gothic Cowboy

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This 26 song Americana album varies over time and terrain, from the buffalo hunt to hemp-picking in Kansas a century on, depicting trials of life and temptations of heart and soul.

The Gothic Cowboy (aka M.Litton): I’m a creek-bank-ghetto boy, a two-legged child of the prairie. I been blown between the Rockies and the Rising Sun, and I’ve tumbled up against a few cities. I began my singin’ on the northern tip of the Louisiana Purchase, along the night shores of Edmonton, Alberta. I stayed the whiskey season then caught a warm southeasterly. I’ve touched Canada, the North Atlantic, and mined Colorado all over; I found that Kansas has the softest loins. The military trained me to stand upright and I’ve worked a pick-ax and shoveled my grave a thousand times. The booze has begun to line my face. I’ve got an opinion on everything and I’ll sing till I’m hoarse or the stalls are empty. I consider myself a neo-pagan, a bat-winged balladeer. The earth is my totem and I hold by her and all her species. I fly the banner of the Dagger and the Rose and declare my faith in both; all this is in my songs. The Shepherd of Wolves, moon-mad and musical, I ain’t no socialist jukebox. Mostly I bat my own pitches, though I’ll hit an occasional Jimmie Rodger’s spitter, the Hank William’s slow ball, and that Bob Dylan slider. I’m traditional enough to walk some pretty ballad and mean enough to go down swingin’ against the knuckle ball… *Note: When I retired The Border Band in 2016 after a twenty-year run, I aimed to ride out my days playing solo. But I soon joined up with "Mando" Dan Hermreck, a fine player and even finer fellow. You can catch his sounds on our new acoustic CD "Between the Wars" along with two exceptional guest artists: Jeff Jackson on standup bass, and Til Willis on harmonica...

Between the Wars (cd description and credits) – From the buffalo hunt to hemp-picking in Kansas a century on, these songs vary over time and terrain, depicting trials of life and temptations of heart and soul. “Caspion & the White Buffalo” was inspired by a newspaper article dated 1894; while “Montana Bound” is drawn from a rare little book, Log of a Cowboy, by Andy Adams (1903). Three murder ballads are based on true tales told to me: “Pretty Mary” from my brother Jim; “Murder of Bob Rose” from my mother Neva; and “Cold Ohio City” I heard off an old miner named Roscoe Riddle. Of course I borrow from the great Leadbelly for “Marijuana Song,” though the experience is wholly my own, further framed in “The Creek-bank Ghetto Boys.” And the title track is a tragic ode to a generation of young soldiers sadly used and cast aside, like so many others, left haunted by “The War Wind…” – m.litton

Special thanks to my good buddy Dan Hermerck for hanging with me. Can’t say enough for these two guest talents: Til Willis and Jeff Jackson. And mighty grateful for the keen advice and patience of Tommy Perez. Melvin Litton: vocals and guitar Dan Hermreck: mandolin and backup vocals Til Willis: harmonica Jeff Jackson: bass fiddle (or standup bass?) Recorder/mixed at Wolfdog by M.Litton Mastered by Tommy Perez – Guitar Studio, Lawrence, KS (785-452-1667) CD design-layout by Til Willis Photos by Brian Byers, Til Willis, M.Litton

REVIEWS:

PHWOAR! for "Between the Wars" from The Rocking Magpie

December 13, 2019 Alan Harrison

The Rustic Heartworn Highway is Re-Opened This album arrived after its release date, which normally means it doesn’t even get a play; but …….. there was ‘something’ about the guys name ‘The Gothic Cowboy’ and the sepia tinged CD cover that made me pick it up a couple of times last week; and again on Sunday morning; which was when I weakened. PHWOAR! Now this is going to be a bit of a brave statement; I was totally engrossed straight from opening track Border Blues, a ‘song of our times’ and ……… in …. deep breath ….. sung in the vein of Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark. Everything from Litton’s weary and grizzled voice through the rusty yet sharp lyrics and story and coming out with a minimal production that makes every note and word as clear as a mountain stream. There’s a lot to get through here; as it’s a Double Album …… 26 tracks in all; and there isn’t much light to balance the shade of the dark and very dark tales; but if you wanted Pop Music you wouldn’t have bought this anyway; would you? You can close your eyes and press ‘random’ to find a killer song; Summer Days are Long, with Dan Hermreck’s mandolin and Til Willis’s mournful harmonica complimenting Litton’s tale of constant sorrow; or it may be Cold Ohio City; a ‘talking Blues’ that genuinely will leave you spellbound; and if it’s Caspion & The White Buffalo you will find yourself leaning in towards the speakers so as not to miss a single word of this harrowing historical anecdote set to music. Just like the songs of Townes and Guy, there’s a real rustic beauty to Yellow Rose Motel and Marijuana Fields; the likes of which most of us never expected to hear again. …….. and that’s only the first album! I normally expect Double Albums to be retrospectives or Live Recordings; but as far as I can ascertain these are songs that Melvin Litton has had on the back-burner during the 20 years of his previous career in the Border Band and this has been his first opportunity to dust them off and let the world hear them in all their glory. The second album opens with the fabulously titled Creek-Bank Ghetto Boys; which if nothing else would make a great t-shirt; but Hell …… it’s powerful Country-Folk song that just may turn your world upside down! Quite often I receive albums of this ilk where the performer is trying too hard to sound like Van Zandt or even early Dylan; but Melvin Litton just sounds like himself which just happens to sound parallel to what those greats sounded like; back in the day. I guess Litton plays a lot of Folk Festivals; but to me intimate songs like The Devil’s Daughter, Sunday Morning and especially Indian Land will be best suited to a small club where the audience are packed in and can hear and appreciate every chord change, let alone these exquisite stories. As I say this is a Double Album made up of 13 songs on each platter; but Litton has a lot to say; and isn’t afraid to let the tape keep rolling, which gives us a couple of opuses too; with Murder of Bob Rose coming in at nigh on ten minutes, and Montana Bound at seven and a half; but if you get that far you will appreciate that these songs need that length to allow the stories to breathe and resonate too. Gosh; this has been a long (and thoroughly enjoyable) couple of days; but selecting a Favourite Song is nigh on impossible. There’s not a single commercial, catchy tune here …… this is Folk Music at it’s finest; but I suppose Holly ‘n the Drifter or Yellow Rose Hotel from album #1 and Help Me Crossover from #2 are all songs I can point you towards; with Yellow Rose Motel probably shading it as a song I’ve come back to to play on it’s own; so that song is officially the RMHQ Favourite Song on this wonderful Double Album of songs and music that I genuinely never expected to like half as much as I have.

"Between the Wars" -- Rootstime.be

November 12, 2019 Valere Sampermans (Valsam)

https://rootstime.be/CD%20REVIEUW/2019/NOV1/CD48.html

“Lots of booze and a heavy life have marked the hoarse voice of the American singer-songwriter Melvin Litton who is performing under the name of ‘The Gothic Cowboy’, assisted by his best friend and mandoline player Dan Hermreck aka ‘Mando Dan’. Together they have recorded 26 storytelling songs on the acoustic double cd ‘Between The Wars’ where several influences from a.o. Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Townes Van Zandt can easily be traced.“ – www.rootstime.be

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Fresh Blood / Old Skin

The Border Band

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Up from the roots into the wind, our music spans the borders of theme, time, and place to rock-on through rage and ruin.

Fresh Blood/Old Skin was greatly inspired by our bass player, Hugh Campbell, a young man of proud Navajo heritage and stout Scottish name. No stranger to borders, child of the desert Southwest come to age in River City, Kansas, he moves like a Skin-Walker between cultures, time, and place to bring an intriguing mix of power, passion, and tender yearning in his songs. He’s been with us nearly three years – give him a listen and I think you’ll see why we were pleased to add his fresh blood to our old skin... (Disc 1, Fresh Blood, all songs by Hugh Campbell -- Disc 2, Old Skin, all songs by M. Litton)

The Border Band is a four-piece group with M. Litton on vocals and rhythm guitar; Hugh Campbell on vocals, bass, and guitar; Dave Melody on drums; and Roger Holden on lead guitar. We play a raw mix of rock, folk, country, and blues, which we call “Rawhide Rock” because it’s fresh-skinned, still dripping blood, hasn’t been processed to fit any certain form. We’ve got songs high-peaked and treacherous as the Rockies, lonely and hunted as the Badlands, and gentle rolling as a spring pasture in first bloom. A varied terrain, no doubt, but sure and certain as the dust, rocks, and wind of which they’re formed.

As the reviewer from Village Records said of our 4th CD, IT'S A SHORT LIFE: "This group has the perfect name. Their music straddles all aspects of Americana and the forefathers of the genre. Albums like this are not meant for radio programmers and focus groups. It is meant for drivers of rust colored pick-up trucks that have old mangled chrome bumpers, and past their prime cars with big engines. You'll find these parked outside of end of the trail roadhouses, not Starbucks. For this all new recording they don't get above their raising and deliver another alt-country classic..."

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It's a Short Life

The Border Band

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Songs from the eye of the storm where fate and music plays.

Whether a young soldier, a ginerbread man, a teenage lover trying to break free, a hard drinker or a hangman in the old west, all roads lead to the eye of the storm where our music is made. If that leaves us a shadow in the wind or a shade in the flame, so be it. We play our own song cuz it's a short life.

WWW.ROOTSTIME.BE – "It’s a Short Life is honest and, after a bit of acclimation, is repeatedly magnificent…" – Antoine Legat (Dutch to English, OneHour Translate), February 10, 2013 "It's a Short Life". They sure were right about that, those four gentlemen from The Border Band, but it made for an extremely long CD, bordering 75 minutes: not much more can fit on a CD. It's been a good while since they've put anything out after "Rootless Seed" (2001), "Magdalene" (2003), and the double CD "Hard West" (2005). We had a good time with "It's a Short Life", listening to it over and over again. It should be no surprise why: there is a plethora of variation in the material presented that exploits a recognizable sound to invoke a pronounced sense of unity. There is more however. They are drowning in experience. The quartet roamed around all that time, and even still today, as a pack of young wolves that don't bog themselves down with all the rules and red tape slapped on by managers and producers and merely sing as they were meant to sing. They don't set out to lure in an audience, but rather play what they enjoy playing, how they want to play it, all while being fully aware of what they can and cannot do. If that isn't refreshing in a time where albums are polished perfection, where every break is played exactly by the book, I don't know what is. That spermicidal legislation is just the opposite of what Rock-n-Roll needs to be, i.e. healthy anarchy. That the outcome fails to communicate that so strongly sometimes doesn't change a thing. The bottom line is positive. In addition, the lyrics seem to tell their own story more than once, like in the opener "A Long, Long Way", a proud ode to the homeland on the right side of patriotism, given it crosses everyone's mind, yet is directed towards no one; and the Vietnam story "Bad Seed" plucked clearly from personal experience, which you can see as an antidote for Stan Ridgway's dubious "Camouflage". As for the composition of the band, Melvin Litton, the engine that drives The Border Band, is more or less a stray cat that took off from Kansas and eventually ended up there again. He plays rhythm guitar, wrote almost all the songs, mostly by himself, and he sings the lead up an octave. Roger Holden just sticks with lead guitar, but he, of course, plays an important role in the band's history. Dave Melody plays the drums, but also sings in about five songs. The group has wrestled for years with a "bassist problem", so to speak. About eight of them withered up and burnt out before Daniel Weaverling came knocking at the door a few years ago. Although he was much younger than the others, he seemed to be our white blackbird. Since he also has a great singing voice, he does some vocals on five songs. In total, that should tally up to eighteen songs, but there is one song that the three leads sing, namely the traditional rendition of "Go Down Ol' Hanna" where the tempo picks up suddenly a third of the way through. If they hit the gas pedal, then you get a rugged set of rockers like "Gingerbread Man" or the title track. But they can also branch into a world of melancholy, like in "Another Cold, Cold Beer", which was actually a tear jerker of a song, that cavorts harmoniously between sincere emotion and sentimentality (our Guido Belcanto also walks that line with so much finesse!). Even "Because of You" with Litton on the ... bell has that folky feeling, i.e. a song to play in the late hours of the community ball. We couldn't dream of any producer laying his hands on any of it to make it "better" so to speak! The realities of the working man, who has to slave his face off to get by, gets its own special voice in "Bottom of the Mine". "There Liz a Diamond" falls somewhere between Bob Dylan, The Band, and Bruce Springsteen in its own reserved kind-of way, influences that Litton surely can identify with. And once everything comes together, then you get one kick ass song like "Down by the River". So no, you can't be mad at The Border Band. The older generation of music fans will already know this. For the younger chaps, just put that into a text message. "It's a Short Life" is "honest" and, after a bit of acclimation, is repeatedly "magnificent". Antoine Légat www.rootstime.be

VILLAGE RECORDS www.villagerecords.org – “Another alt-country classic…” Nov. 30, 2011 IT'S A SHORT LIFE Artist: THE BORDER BAND [N1112114] This group has the perfect name. Their music straddles all aspects of Americana and the forefathers of the genre. Albums like this are not meant for radio programmers and focus groups. It is meant for drivers of rust colored pick-up trucks that have old mangled chrome bumpers, and past their prime cars with big engines. You'll find these parked outside of end of the trail roadhouses, not Starbucks. For this all new recording they don't get above their raising and deliver another alt-country classic.

ROOTHOG RADIO www.roothotradio.com -- “Kinda like listening to a Johnny Cash the first time around…” Posted on November 2, 2011 by L.H. O'Connor I was tickled to see pictures of the Border Band and realize they're not all nineteen and this is not their first record. Maybe it's because my bridge is out, I need to slaughter a bunch of chickens and it's a snowy, Sunday morning but I'm in the mood for some music from someone who's actually lived a little. Someone who might actually have something genuinely sad and lonesome to sing about, in that respect, It's A Short Life by The Border Band did not disappoint. It's A Short Life's title track starts off sounding like a barfighting song but winds up as an almost Springsteenesque account of a man's life. The first time I listened to it, it really rubbed me the wrong way. Something tugged at me to listen again, though, a few days later and it was actually worth it. So, be warned. This is not a driving in the truck cd. (Unless you've heard it a million times and know all the words by heart.) This is one to sit down and actually listen to. If you're in a hurry, put it aside til you have a moment to really pay attention. A Long, Long Way is a pro diversity anthem. Another Cold, Cold Beer is very appropriate for this season (and for anyone trying to dry up). My favorite line: The scarecrow still stands there though he's a longtime been dead. Overall, I had mixed feelings about this album. There were parts I didn't like, but I have a sneaking suspicion it might grow on me. Kinda like listening to a Johnny Cash the first time around. Goes Good With: Jimmy Rodgers, Creedence Clearwater Revival Random Fact: They've had as many bass players "as a spider has legs."

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Hard West (double CD)

The Border Band

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"Hard West" both names the music and depicts the sound, this is Rawhide Rock, fresh-skinned, still drippin' blood -- 26 songs of high times and hard work, wrong turns and wronged hearts, of love, lust, murder and war, and few thrown in for the sheer fun.

The Border Band is a four-piece group captained by Melvin "Lightnin' LeRoy" Litton on vocals and rhythm guitar, with Robb Popp (the anti-Pope who blesses beer n' wild women) on bass, Dave "Youngblood" Melody on drums, and Roger "The Razor" Holden on lead guitar. We play a raw mix of rock, folk, country, and blues, which we call "Rawhide Rock" because it's fresh-skinned, still dripping blood. We've got songs high-peaked and treacherous as the Rockies, lonely and hunted as the Badlands, and gentle rolling as a pasture in first bloom. A varied terrain, no doubt, but sure and rooted as the dust, rocks, and wind that form us.

Most songs on "Hard West" were recorded at Chubby Smith's Tractor Shed Studio set in the Kaw River Valley a few miles west of Lawrence, Kansas. Large, spacious, and downhome, about the coolest place to record in this region of the planet. With Colin Mahoney at the controls we worked to capture the raw sound that reflects the pace and energy of our live shows. So if you've got a ragin' thirst and an untrammeled heart, lissen up and take a ride through the "Hard West."

Hard West, scarred by Dakota winds and dead-end roads where hundred-car freights of loaded coal pass ghost farms, graves and pasture bones where a redhead mourns her road-killed man in midnight bars with one-night stands and an hombre rides alone at night in answer to el coyote's cry where the blues still hatch them old refrains of murder, lust and winter rains. Hard West, beneath the dust, ocean rock, and above the land endless sky, where shadows labor to the sun in thirst for water, oil or love till even a damn fool's gotta know he's been fishin' in the wrong hole But hit town at sundown and cast regret away on whiskey, bets and naked sweat in chance for a better day as night deepens, cars wreck, lives too in haste and ruin with bare hands you grip the wheel on a rutted road to the distant hills where all is given and all is blest face another sunrise in the Hard West...

REVIEWS:

INDIE-MUSIC.COM -- Derek Blackmon November 5, 2005 "Thanks to the originality of Gram Parsons and loose noodling of The Grateful Dead, country music is no longer limited to big hats, A-chords and pedal steel guitars. Now meet The Border Band's Hard West, a two disc, 26-song collection of low-down, mid-west between the ditches country rock. All you need is the road trip long enough to tackle listening to it in one fell swoop. While there are a few covers here, the lion's share of originals are due to singer/guitarist Melvin Litton. Rearrangements of "In The Jailhouse Now" and "St. James Infirm'ry" are done sweet justice. Typically I would approach Dylan covers with a suspicious eye, especially those lifted from Blood on the Tracks, but a bluesy cover of "Meet Me in the Morning" is included for your listening pleasure, and have no fear, Zimmy is held to the highest standards. There isn't a lot of wavering in the elemental sound across the board, but this is merely chalked up to "doing what you do best" rather than doing what is expected from the label execs. The sound quality far exceeds most DIY releases but exudes the confidence of a band with the sole intention of playing whatever it damn well pleases. There's a prolific nature to Litton, similar to that of Ryan Adams. Whereas the latter's moods may stray from album to album, allowing this randomness to affect the consistency from time to time, Litton seems content to remain constant with the sound, keeping his nose clean. I can only imagine there has to be another double disc of intended filler floating around somewhere. Maybe their next album could just be a box set? The Border Band holds one truth to be self-evident: Country is the only genre to make it clear that two minutes in any relationship is the difference between a shot of whiskey and a beer to kill the pain. With titles like "If Wishes Was Horses," "Fishin' in the Wrong Hole" and "Taco n' Wine," it's easy to see that being from Kansas has had a rather genuine impact on Litton. Give me an old Roadhouse saloon with a silent, mysterious hunk named Dalton watching the door, chicken wire protecting the stage and these guys cranking the soundtrack to one hell of a drunken stupor, and that's the America I know!"

WWW.ROOTSTIME.BE - review of "Hard West" - Freddy Celis (Dutch to English via Click2 Translate) October 23, 2005 "Where does all the good music come from? - I sometimes ask myself. Rootstime in particular knows where to find the increasingly popular genre, roots-Americana. Now I don't mean to imply by this that the The Border Band's third release (already!) is a typical Americana disc. No, Melvin Litton and his band do more than just that.... "Hard West" is a primarily melodic album with infectious rhythms, varying from up-tempo songs through to a mesmerizing sound. That comparison somewhat goes out the window now though, with "Hombre" thundering out of my speakers. Here and there a Coast to Coast rhythm surfaces, in "Jam In Nam", and then they let loose again with the roots rock ballad "Quittin'You". The traditional home base is to be found in "Same Ol' Song". It may seem obvious that The Border Band draw on diverse influences, but the conspicuous link with the blues, "Red Rose Blues", I would call remarkable. Just the combination and change in the final cut, "Champagne In The Saddle", is in itself an invention of true professionals.... I get a certain feeling from them, as if I am being brought under hypnosis, as it were. To soothe the heat of Lawrence, the Rockies and the Badlands, the guys have pooled their talents and ideas and come up with one of the better singer-songwriter albums of our time. The music has exceptional class. Again, not really an Americana disc, but certainly a gem...."

WWW.KINDAMUZIK.NET -- Maurice Dielemans (Dutch to English via Click2 Translate) October 9, 2005 "Hard West is a double album from The Border Band and for that reason takes a lot after the superlative album The Basement Tapes from Bob Dylan and The Band. Naturally this is not the only reason. The rudimentary music from this quartet is very reminiscent of original rock-'n-roll styles such as standard blues and country, and they bring together these clear influences in short, harmonious rock songs. The landscapes that the songs bring to mind are dried out river beds, deserted highways and scorching desert sand.... As we now listen to Hard West, we are back again in café Hole in the Wall in Austin, Texas.... The Border Band would have gone down well in that bar where you are greeted with a friendly 'howdy' and can buy a pitcher of beer for five dollars. This is just saying that Hard West is above all a pleasurable album.... "

VILLAGE RECORDS - The Border Band ~ Hard West 10/19/05 "This new two disc set is what we call hard country. It has edge with both the music and the lyrics. It's mostly originals with a few cool covers including Bob Dylan's "Meet Me In The Morning." This Midwest band has managed to stay under the radar screen the past few years but that's all about to end with this career making disc. The hats on these guys is likely to be a bit dusty and have more than a couple of spots of blood and sweat...."

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Magdalene

The Border Band

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Music from the roots, where stones and old bones speak, while nightwinds moan and Orion shines eternal like our dreams.

We play a raw mix of rock, country, folk and blues. In the main we call our music "Rawhide Rock" because it's fresh skinned, still dripping blood, hasn't been processed to fit any certain form. We've got songs high-peaked and treacherous as the Rockies, low and craggy as the Grand Canyon, lonely and hunted as the Badlands, others gentle rolling as a spring pasture in first bloom. A varried terrain, no doubt, but sure and firm as a calloused hand that maps this world, this life.

The Border Band is a four-piece group consisting of rhythm guitar, bass, drums and lead guitar. Melvin Litton, yours truly, captains the band, plays rhythm guitar and writes and sings most of the songs. I began performing over a quarter of a century ago in the cold regions of Canada and have since played in the northeast, down through Nashville, Austin, up to Colorado and back to Kansas where I started out and will likely remain. My major influences are Leadbelly, Jimmy Rogers, Bob Dylan and The Band, while the juices of a hundred others flavor my music, not to mention the wind and rain, sun, moon and stars, and the devil himself if that's what it takes to make a song. But I mainly rely on the better angels of my nature to see me through, and two fine men that have been with me for over five years now: Roger Holden and Dave Melody. They've helped forge the sound and are a great part of what makes the music click.

Roger Holden, "The Razor," is a wizard on the lead guitar. Besides his own keen talent, he draws inspiration from Hendrix, Santana, Stevie Ray Vaughn and BB King among others. He's played in a dozen bands covering every idiom from Classic Rock, Punk, Ska, Surf, Tex-Mex, Country, Folk and Blues. Nimble and fast, that's why we call him the razor" -- because he plays so fast and clean, he slice it to the bone!

Dave "Youngblood" Melody plays drums, but he does a helluva lot more than keep time and proves in the act why the drums are a musical intrument not to be denied. He can tap out rhythm soft as a feathered heartbeat or boom like thunder rolling down off the mountains across the plains in a crash of cymbals and toms that can chasm the earth then fade in a patter of raindrops dimpling the dust. Dave's the youngest member of the band, but he's no greenhorn. He's hit the skins for over 20 years, played in metal bands, marching bands and a whole hodge-podge of rock, yet he can make the brushes whisper to a cowboy lament so as to charm a heart tough as old boot leather.

We've had a slew of fine bass players: Vitamin B, Chubby Smith, Johnny Dancer, Doc Nelson, Kid Gribble. For one reason or another none of 'em stuck. Again faced with a hole in our sound, Dave suggested his good friend, Rob Popp (pronounced "Pope"). Problem was, Rob played lead guitar; but Dave said, "We can mold 'im." Well, convincing a leadman to play bass is rather like asking a gunfighter to lay aside his six-gun for a shotgun. But Rob was willin'. He picked up a big black Fender-American-jazz bass and in a few short months he's put his signature on our sound. He's got an innate sense of rhythm and goes deep in a song to find the heart. We call him "The Pope" -- he ain't infallible, but damn solid and the center holds. Plus he looks the part: big, strong, able, and sports a devilish grin. With "The Pope" aboard we aim to ride the Border van and play hither, thither, and yon.

That's our band, our music, as far as words can tell. But words merely depict the shadow of a thing; to know the true sense and shape you must experience it yourself. So give our songs a listen and see what you think.

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Rootless Seed

The Border Band

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This is "Rawhide Rock"--a raw mix of rock, country, folk and blues--fresh skinned, still dripping blood, it hasn't been processed to fit any certain form.

We play a raw mix of rock, country, folk and blues. In the main we call our music "Rawhide Rock" because it's fresh skinned, still dripping blood, hasn't been processed to fit any certain form. We've got songs high-peaked and treacherous as the Rockies, low and craggy as the Grand Canyon, lonely and hunted as the Badlands, others gentle rolling as a spring pasture in first bloom. A varried terrain, no doubt, but sure and firm as a calloused hand that maps this world, this life.

The Border Band is a four-piece group consisting of rhythm guitar, bass, drums and lead guitar. Melvin Litton, yours truly, captains the band, plays rhythm guitar and writes and sings most of the songs. I began performing over a quarter of a century ago in the cold regions of Canada and have since played in the northeast, down through Nashville, Austin, up to Colorado and back to Kansas where I started out and will likely remain. My major influences are Leadbelly, Jimmy Rogers, Bob Dylan and The Band, while the juices of a hundred others flavor my music, not to mention the wind and rain, sun, moon and stars, and the devil himself if that's what it takes to make a song. But I mainly rely on the better angels of my nature to see me through, and two fine men that have been with me for over five years now: Roger Holden and Dave Melody. They've helped forge the sound and are a great part of what makes the music click.

Roger Holden, "The Razor," is a wizard on the lead guitar. Besides his own keen talent, he draws inspiration from Hendrix, Santana, Stevie Ray Vaughn and BB King among others. He's played in a dozen bands covering every idiom from Classic Rock, Punk, Ska, Surf, Tex-Mex, Country, Folk and Blues. Nimble and fast, that's why we call him "The Razor" -- because he plays so fast and clean, he slice it to the bone!

Dave "Youngblood" Melody plays drums, but he does a helluva lot more than keep time and proves in the act why the drums are a musical intrument not to be denied. He can tap out a rhythm soft as a feathered heartbeat or boom like thunder rolling down off the mountains across the plains in a crash of cymbals and toms that can chasm the earth then fade in a patter of raindrops dimpling the dust. Dave's the youngest member of the band, but he's no greenhorn. He's hit the skins for over 20 years, played in metal bands, marching bands and a whole hodge-podge of rock, yet he can make the brushes whisper to a cowboy lament so as to charm a heart tough as old boot leather.

We've had a slew of fine bass players: Vitamin B, Chubby Smith, Johnny Dancer, Doc Nelson, Kid Gribble. For one reason or another none of 'em stuck. Again faced with a hole in our sound, Dave suggested his good friend, Rob Popp (pronounced "Pope"). Problem was, Rob played lead guitar; but Dave said, "We can mold 'im." Well, convincing a leadman to play bass is rather like asking a gunfighter to lay aside his six-gun for a shotgun. But Rob was willin'. He picked up a big black Fender-American-jazz bass and in a few short months he's put his signature on our sound. He's got an innate sense of rhythm and goes deep in a song to find the heart. We call him "The Pope" -- he ain't infallible, but damn solid and the center holds. Plus he looks the part: big, strong, able, and sports a devilish grin. With "The Pope" aboard we aim to ride the Border van and play hither, thither, and yon. (Note: Chubby Smith, our recording engineer, played bass on all of "Rootless Seed.")

That's our band, our music, as far as words can tell. But words merely depict the shadow of a thing; to know the true sense and shape you must experience it yourself. So here it is --"Rootless Seed." Give us a listen and see what you think.

REVIEWS of "Rootless Seed":

1)The Border Band blends blues, rock, and folk with dashes of country and nods to bluegrass and rockabilly on its latest release.... "Whiteline Moonshine" sounds like a great lost Johnny Cash song, and the Border's laid-back rockabilly groove makes for a promising, spitfire start...--The Mag, May 24, 2001

2)Lyrics dark, emotional. Not what you expect. "Rootless Seed" lulls you into a familiar place and then stabs you gently in the heart when you get there. Musicianship is subtly outstanding...--Digital Global Media, June 11, 2001

3)Indie-Music.com--January 13, 2002--by Les Reynolds: These four guys are not from the border -- The Border as we know it (Texas-Mexico), but their music is every bit as dusty and craggy as the rocks and dirt that line the Rio Grande and points westward. Not that dust and crust are bad things. Think about the steely-eyed glare of Clint Eastwood or the cool and deadpan glint of James Coburn. That kind of dust. But the tunes can also be varied at times. This CD could be described as a mix of folk, rock, country and blues with no one tune a complete representative of any of those styles --and sometimes the tunes change within themselves (listen to "Bootleggin;' Lady," which goes from blues to rock). But, the Big Question: Does it sound good? You betcha!! On the opening track, "Whiteline Moonshine," Mel sounds like the Dire Straits' Mark Knopfler gone country and on "Wildflower," the guitar sounds like the Allman Brothers meets the Marshall Tucker Band. Roger is the lead guitarist joined by Melody on drums and bassist Smith. They meld their instruments very well for a haunting, rough-edged, out-in-the-elements kind of sound which is also capable of soaring gentleness from time to time. The tunes range from philosophical to storytelling; from rolling, up-tempo songs to more pensive tunes (but they never bog down). One theme throughout seems to be what could be called worldly spiritualism -- spiritual references immediately framed by some rather blatant references to things not so spiritual. In the up-tempo opener alone, some examples: "...why do the heathen rage? ...c'mon children now, clap your hands; throw off your burden and start to dance, y'all don't need no more whiskey, wine or gin... in like a lamb and out like a lion... ain't no quicker path to paradise. I'm leavin' the low road, takin' that high road tonight..." Hard to pin down, maybe, but one thing's for sure -- this band has definitely taken the musical high road.

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Gothic Cowboy Review

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