Captain Ledge Band – Rumors of the Great White Skunk
In their song “I Wish,” one of the highlights from The Captain Ledge Band’s latest full length disc Rumors of the Great White Skunk, the Oklahoma-based bluegrass unit that is capturing the hearts and attention of critics and audiences from coast to coast at the moment shares with us perhaps their most elegantly spun and brilliantly produced tracks to date, and that’s really saying something when you listen to the totality of their discography to date. As Cliff Downing rattles off a litany of wishes that he would love to see become a reality, and they’re some pretty selfless ones at that, the irreverent glare of his thunderous voice against the strut of the band and the supple punctuation of the percussion gives us an almost eerie vibe to get lost in. Suddenly it’s total darkness, like we’re wandering through a forest without a lantern or any sense of direction. We’re lost, and then The Captain Ledge Band is there again, almost as if to peer from the other side of a big cluster of trees that’s blocking the path set before us. It’s a an almost climactic moment for a group that I’ve been following since they first started cutting hot tracks a few years ago, and this most recent output is certainly a most welcome addition to their already much respected, superior body of work.
As a music journalist, it’s my job to listen to the littlest, most microscopic details of any given single, extended play or album to figure out the true nature of an artist’s narrative, intentions and identity when I’m listening to their music. In a lot of ways it isn’t that much different than the investigative journalism that you see on your local news, although there’s a lot less of a criminal component a much better pay scale to enjoy on a professional level. But the best thing about this gig isn’t the pay or the relative lack of negative surroundings to contend with; it’s getting the opportunity to come across bands like Captain Ledge, who manage to live in obscurity relative to what most mainstream music fans browse and consume on a daily basis, and yet put out some of the most effective and thought provoking work of anyone, anywhere, at absolutely every degree of fame or success. I listen to an album like Rumors of the Great White Skunk and I often feel a little privileged as a fan, the same way anyone who enjoys exploring their local independent record store does. Indie music like theirs is the reason that we constantly look to college radio to introduce us to new, diverse sounds coming out of the woodwork of pop culture with each passing year, and it’s because of The Captain Ledge band and their contemporaries that these outlets are going to continue to survive and thrive in the decades to come. The bottom line is simple; if you’re in the market for a hot new set of indie folk music that borrows as much from bluegrass as it does angular roots music, I encourage you to check out Rumors of the Great White Skunk as soon as possible. I’m confident that anyone who considers themselves a legitimate audio intellectual will be quite impressed with what they find.