Hit And Run
Artists can succeed two ways in popular music. The first way involves signing a development deal, where you're basically in hock to your record company for your first three releases, at which time your indentured servitude ends and you can perhaps make a decent living. The second way requires doing everything yourself – producing your own recordings, doing your own promotion, booking, advance work, distribution, and tour scheduling. Although this requires 24-hour dedication, at least you're working for yourself, and if you're lucky, you and your band can even earn a decent living wage from the beginning. The Hit and Run bluegrass band have opted for the second path. Beauty Fades, their sophomore CD effort, provides ample proof that they have the talent to succeed on their own terms in their chosen path.
The Hit and Run Bluegrass Band has five members; Erin Coats on upright bass and vocals, John Frazier on mandolin and vocals, Rebecca Hoggan on guitar and vocals, Todd Livingston on dobro, and Aaron Youngberg on banjo. Hit and Run makes good use of their three vocalists with some fine triple harmonies during choruses as well as haunting double lead vocals. Erin Coats' harmony singing is superb, I'm talking Emmy Lou Harris level here. Material for Beauty Fades comes primarily from the band itself. John Frazier penned three tunes, while Rebecca Hogan contributed a pair, and Aaron Youngberg and Todd Livingston each added one original song. The opening and title song from Rebecca Hoggan "Beauty Fades" ties with John Frazier's "Cold Iron Door" as my favorite original song on the CD. Covers include Porter Wagoner's "Lonely Comin' Down," George Jones's "Old, Old House," Mitchell Jane's "The Whole World Round," and my favorite, Rowland Salley's "Killing the Blues." Hit and Run do an especially fine job on this last tune, actually besting any previous version I've heard.
Produced, engineered, and mixed by Tim Austin at the Doobie Shea studios in Boones Mill, Virginia, this certainly doesn't sound like a self-published project. Actually I've heard many major label releases that don't sound as acoustically natural and well balanced. Ex-Nashville Bluegrass band member Gene Libbea contributed "spiritual guidance" in the form of song suggestions, encouragement, and sitting in for Erin Coats while she was in school. The album notes, dedicated to Gene, provide insight to his personal energy and power.
If you're planning to attend the Telluride festival you'll have an opportunity to see Hit And Run live. For everyone else picking up a copy of Beauty Fades from Amazon or their website to taste the joys of true musical independence.