When The Dead South came to San Diego this past winter to play a show at the House of Blues, we snuck onto their tour bus to hang out and talk banjos with Colton Crawford.
A beautiful, crisp, and sunny morning rose over downtown San Diego in early December as Jonathan and I carried banjos, cameras, mics from our allotted parking lot, with the Red Trolley whirring past as we did. We were headed down to the House of Blues where the tour bus of folk/bluegrass/pop/rock quartet The Dead South had settled in for the day. And waiting for us was Colton Crawford, banjoist for The Dead South and on this particular morning, the only band member awake following a late show and drive from LA the previous evening.
And considering his obvious lack of sleep, Colton was on top form, as we chatted about his discovery of banjo, his approach, and how it fits into the band's style and songwriting, all the while navigating the nostalgic, and somewhat claustrophobic memories of life on a tour bus.
During the pandemic, the band was forced to get off the road and spend time at home. Looking for an outlet, they all got their hands on home recording equipment and began creating, recording, and playing with ideas. Until one day they came up with the idea of releasing a series of covers, including The Doors' "People Are Strange", and more recently, "Will The Circle Be Unbroken".
It is not easy to describe The Dead South, so let's hear it from them directly:
"A rock band without a drummer, a bluegrass band without a fiddler. To the gentlemen of the Dead South, a self-styled 4-piece string band from Regina, Saskatchewan, it’s about how, not what, you play. Their sound, built on a taut configuration of cello, mandolin, banjo, and guitar, speeds like a train past polite definitions of acoustic music into the grittier, rowdier spaces of the bluegrass world."
I couldn't have said it better. Our own Chad Kopotic described their San Diego show that evening as "High energy acoustic folk-rock n roll that had the entire audience singing along and enjoying the performance of live music from a very talented group of musicians."
But their music goes much deeper than covers, with their original music spanning 4 albums and multiple EP's and singles since 2013. And they are well worth checking out!
Colton himself is playing a Vega Little Wonder, as well as a beautiful Saratoga Star, which routinely makes appearances on his regular Twitch streaming episodes. Most episodes feature Colton and his banjo playing along to a variety of tunes spanning a variety of genres, including early 2000's pop punk metal...apparently. Check out Colton playing along to Papa Roach's "Last Resort". Just for fun.
And just because we are feeling extra nice, here is an awesome playlist that we curated for you!
So take a listen, watch the video and leave your thoughts in the comments!
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