Country Outfit Liquor Mountain Release New Single 'East Dooley'
“East Dooley” marks a full-circle moment for Liquor Mountain frontman Danny Vescarelli. Born in the badlands of Drumheller, Alberta, he describes himself as a “CMT kid” who grew up taping his favourite videos by Clint Black and Garth Brooks on VHS. During a series of musical reinventions, Vescarelli’s heady psych-rock group Devonian Gardens released their sophomore album Solar Shifting with acclaimed Brooklyn label Beyond Beyond Is Beyond, yet country music was never far from his heart. On the latest single from Liquor Mountain, Vescarelli’s twangy side-project formed in 2014, he embraces the pop country sounds of his youth while paying tribute to the people and places that made him.
For residents of Drumheller’s East Coulee region, the Dooleys loom large. Moving to Alberta from their roots in Kentucky and Missouri, the family’s Millarfield Farms remains one of the only historic ranches left in the province. Alongside providing his land as the setting for Shanghai Noon and Tom Cochrane’s video for “Life Is A Highway,” father Tom Dooley made waves as a political candidate taking aim at the commanding Conservative party. As Vescarelli sings, this family farm across the highway from the hoodoos was the playground of his childhood, as he forged a lifelong friendship with the younger John Dooley. Following teenage pit parties in the creek where Billy the Kid built a small town, Vescarelli and Dooley formed a garage-rock duo during college studies in Calgary, awakening their small town brains to the big city music scene.
Like the rancher moving a hundred head of cattle in the lyrics of “East Dooley”, Vescarelli’s tender, high-pitched voice and jangly electric 12-string are trailed by a lively arrangement of instruments. On top of his long-time collaborators – rambling lead guitarist Steve Rozitis, dreamweaving vocalist Jennifer Crighton, and rock-steady bassist Adam Kamis – the lineup for this song is expanded with a murderer’s row of musical sharpshooters. Matty McKay, a five-time CCMA Guitar Player of the Year winner who has toured as Garth Brooks’ opener, blesses “East Dooley” with dreamy burbles of pedal steel. Drummer Clayton Smith, who has performed with artists such as Michael Rault, Ghost Woman, and Skinny Dick, lays down fills that accentuate but never overtake. Acoustic guitarist Nathan Godfrey is perhaps the most accomplished of all, bringing his vast knowledge as a folk historian to the liner notes of The Harry Smith B-Sides, and accompanying John Cohen of the New Lost City Ramblers – widely acknowledged as the subject of the Grateful Dead classic “Uncle John’s Band.”
While Vescarelli cherishes the historic hoodoos and clay-rich soils of the East Coulee region, it’s the people populating the land that matter to him the most. “Father Tom is far from a fooly-ooly-oolish one” he sings, backed up by gorgeous harmonies that evoke the bluegrass-inflected country-rock of Dillard and Clark. The folkier influences of The Byrds, Neil Young, and New Riders of the Purple Sage have haunted Vescarelli’s previous bands, and while Clint Black’s “Killin’ Time” is a staple of Liquor Mountain live sets, he has never latched onto his childhood love of ’90s pop country like this before. With “East Dooley,” it’s finally time for him to come home.
“The crux of the song is that the area is amazing,” says Vescarelli. “It’s beautiful and you can watch the sunset there, but they’ve got the Dooleys, and that’s really why I love it. The lyrics almost become a people over place sentiment, but at the end I have a bit of a wink when I sing ‘and I’ll be seeing you soon.’ That means I’ll be back in East Coulee no matter what.”
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