Devil in a Woodpile - self-titled

Devil in a Woodpile
Devil in a Woodpile


First Appeared in The Music Box, February 1999, Volume 6, #2

Written by John Metzger


While many bands borrow from early blues and country music, very few of them embrace these styles so fully as to actually replicate the sounds of an age-old era. Chicago's Devil in a Woodpile manages to do just that, effortlessly conjuring up the rural styles of a time that has long been forgotten.  The music from this four-piece band is simple and pure. Vocals ride over a mixture of harmonica, washboard, jug, National steel and acoustic guitar, upright bass, ukelele, tuba, and kick drum. There's nothing fancy about it but Devil in a Woodpile makes it work.

On it debut disc for Bloodshot Records, which was recorded in just three days, Devil in a Woodpile manages to put the roots back into songs from Sonny Boy Williamson (Good Morning Little Schoolgirl), Sleepy John Estes (Some Day Baby), and Ray Charles (I Got a Woman). Hudson Whittaker's Boogie Woogie Dance cruises the back roads of rural America on the back of Paul K.'s steel guitar, and Gary Scheper's tuba effortlessly drives Big Bill Broonzy's Keep on Drinkin' straight through a moonshine binge.  Several original compositions are also scattered throughout the disc, and they seamlessly fit alongside the classics. Tom Ray's bass pushes Can't Wait down a ramshackle train track, and Whistle Gait floats through a laid-back, drunken blues groove.

It remains to be seen as to whether Devil in a Woodpile can take its tribute to old-time music and create career out of it. Nevertheless, it's a pleasing set that should help to draw music fans back to where it all began in another time's forgotten space. starstarstar

Devil in a Woodpile is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!


Copyright 1999 The Music Box