Eric Brace, singer, songwriter and founder of Last Train Home came to his old stomping grounds this month during an acoustic tour with partner Peter Cooper and guitarist Thomm Jutz.
Their sound might be called New Nashville: a little bit country, a little bit bluegrass, a rocking beat and head-snapping lyrics. Whether they are mourning the loss of love, the twist of bad fortune or mocking stuffed shirts, they are sharing intimate moments. The tiny Jammin Java café in Vienna, Virginia was the perfect place to share that kind of music.
Mostly they were just having a good time poking fun at each other, their years of laboring in relative obscurity in Nashville (hence the nickname of “Neverly Brothers”) and about making music, especially with the old masters.
Here are some excerpts from The Comeback Album:
Lost my sunbeam in a ponzi scheme
Don’t ask me how that works
Should have read the fine print
Devil’s in the details
I’m really not a fine print guy
She’s the one in the wrong here
I got the run around
Took my love and everything that wasn’t bolted down
Rust and rubber, hard concrete, that ‘s the view from under the bus.
(She Can’t Be Herself)
She’s unabashed and unconcerned and needing to be free
And she can’t be herself when she’s with me
The best laid plans are a stick in the craw
You pledge allegiance to whatever you allege
I pledge allegiance to the luck of the draw…
All I know is nobody knows
Nobody, nobody knows.
Throughout the evening, as I listened to their ditties about mundane events and ordinary people (who offered big lessons in life) on songs like Grandma’s Batman Tattoo or Big Steve, I was reminded of Steve Goodman and Arlo Guthrie.
As Cooper and Brace carve their own musical paths, they pay tribute to their influences, doing strong covers of Tom T. Hall’s I Flew Over Our House, The Seldom Scene’s signature take on Herb Pedersen’s Wait A Minute and Johnny Cash’s Lay Me Down.
Cooper’s tenor and Brace’s baritone match beautifully and Jutz’s guitar mastery, amplified through an exterior mike, completed the effect of having a studio full of musicians.
On the CD itself, Jutz is joined by pedal steel legend, Lloyd Green, session man supreme who has played on 115 number one hits. Green’s magical music is also showcased on Brace & Cooper’s “Master Sessions” CD which also features the late dobro virtuoso Mike Auldridge.
Red Beet Records is Brace and Cooper’s label in East Nashville and one hopes it will help grow their music business to the point of a new nickname: Foreverly Brothers.
Every dream is a boxcar
I’ve got a freight train
Every wish is an open road
And I’ll drive forever.