It was nice on a Wednesday night, to have good music come to
Montgomery, Alabama where three guys from Birmingham rolled into town for a
night of kicked-back, hootin’ and hollerin’ renegade jam-grass. Rick Carter
(guitars, vocals), Stan Foster (bass, vocals), and Barry Waldrep (guitar,
banjo, mandolin, and vocals) make up Rollin’ in the Hay, affectionately
known by their loyal fans as simply, The Hay. Right off the bat, one
notices the interesting set-up of the trio, an electric bass, surrounded on
either side by acoustic guitars. Stan almost always plays an electric bass,
while Barry and Rick almost always sport their acoustic instruments. As for
their influences, Stan is drawn to 70’s funk as well as the likes of the Allman Brothers
Band. Rick’s main sources of inspiration are Jerry Garcia and the Grateful
Dead as well as John Bell and Widespread Panic, among others. Barry is
deeply rooted in the ways of traditional bluegrass. This varied blend of
influences and inspirations makes for quite a mic of music as the band delivers a
fine balance of its own original tunes and familiar cover songs to ensure the
attentiveness of the listener.
The first set contained many original tunes that were fine examples of
Rollin’ in the Hay’s unique style of mixing bluegrass with more open-ended improv.
Among these were, "Doolie," "Steel Rails," "Salty Dog," and a fitting tune for
this gig in the state capital, "Alabam" (yes, without the -a). "We Love Beer,"
was one of a few compositions to showcase the band’s humor. This one
pretty much describes all the drugs out there, and concludes that when it
comes down to it, "we love beer." This tune was a sing-along crowd
favorite and very appropriate for the brew pub setting. Among the cover
songs were, "Lonesome Fiddle Blues," Johnny Cash’s, "Ring of Fire," and
"Catfish John," which was covered extensively by every incarnation of The
Jerry Garcia Band. The band also graced us with a rendition of one of their
contributions to Pickin’ on Widespread Panic, a bluegrass tribute to
Panic, Michael Houser’s "The Waker." Also in the first set, the trio pulled off a
fine medley of Phish’s "Farmhouse" and Bob Marley’s "No Woman, No Cry."
The first set ended with a segment of ‘Space’, featuring Stan smacking the heck
out of his bass, and Rick beating on all parts of his guitar, creating what I like to
call acousta-percussion. This crazy space gave way to the (often covered by
Widespread Panic) JJ Cale tune, "Ride Me High," which gave way to a nasty
"We Want The Funk" jam, and then headed right back into "Ride Me High," to
close it out. All in all, quite a fun set.
The second set was equally entertaining. With Barry playing his banjo, they started
off with the 80’s hit, "I’ll Stop The World," and then proceeded with a straight-up,
downright schizophrenic medley of "Dueling Banjos"->"Beverly Hillbillies
"Blister in the Sun"(Violent Femmes)>"Gin and Juice"(Snoop
Dog)->"Dueling Banjos." The next two tunes fit together nicely as their humorous
original, "I’m Drinkin’ Whiskey" rolled right on into the cover tune "Whiskey River." Another original,
"Miracle Ticket," (Rick’s account of trying to get into a Grateful Dead show) was followed by a
rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s, "Atlantic City." The traditional "Deep
Elem Blues," was followed by another JJ Cale song (often covered by Widespread Panic),
"Traveling Light," which was played with good intensity and followed by Little Feat’s, "Dixie Chicken."
With Barry playing his mandolin once again, the group closed out their set with "Jerry and JB" which
given the band’s proclivities was a fitting tribute to Jerry Garcia and John Bell.
On this evening Rollin’ in the Hay was nothing short of a real good time, with
creative song selection and solid originals matched by tight, cohesive playing.