I got an invite via Facebook to attend a show including William Gruff the other day and I was confused. I had never heard of them, but there was a picture of a goat so I clicked on it. I checked out the write up and noticed that the names of the 4 band members looked very familiar. It was pretty much the same lineup that took 7th place on the East Coast in the Emergenza Battle of the Bands in 2007 under the name of Mountain Man.
I asked them why they switched names when we got to Philadelphia’s The Fire and they said they amicably gave up the name when this girl group began using it, too. Personally, I think there should be an intergender tag team wrestling match to determine the rightful owners of the name. Shout out to Andy Kaufman.
The change in name brought with it a slight change in style as they have a slightly edgier sound than they did during their Mountain Man days. Before, they were a mostly acoustic outfit with a little bit of electric guitar thrown in. Their shows would include appearances by melodicas, recorders, and mandolins. This time around there were no cameo instruments for the William Gruff performance. Instead, they just got the most out of each instrument that they could. Matt stuck with the upright bass for the whole show, Vince and Alan played guitars, and they had Charlie Heim on the drums.
Speaking of the drums, the percussion throughout the show was great. You could tell all four members are extremely polished, probably nearing expert status on their respective instruments. Their subject matter is interesting as well. There are songs about socks, the beach, circles, crossing lines, a donkey, and walking on water. They range from folk, to Eastern European sounding stuff (techinical term), to bluegrass, to jazz. It’s all over the place. Just listen.
BONUS: Here is the original version of their song “Shoreside“(right-click). Listen to it and compare it to the second song of the live set. You’ll be able to hear how much the sound of the band has changed.
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