Get out the moonshine and jam on the songs of Alphadog Haynes Brooke. The New Mongrels features an eclectic gathering of musicians such as Indigo Girls, Michelle Malone, Big Fish Ensemble, Gherkin and Gerard McHugh.
They're based in Seattle. And Los Angeles. And Atlanta. Their founding member died of old age in 1929. What gives with this band? I'm Haynes Brooke, sometimes known as the founder of the New Mongrels. Except I'm not so much the "founder" as the "finder" of the Mongrels. It all started with my great-great grandfather Henry. Deaf in one ear, shell-shocked, a 17 year old veteran of the Civil War, Henry had founded the Smythe County Mongrels' Society back in 1866. He stated that the Mongrels' purpose was "the joyful promotion of song and rhythmic utterance." Apparently, the group met to drink hard cider and sing the entire book of Psalms to improvised melodies. Dogs and instruments were welcome. Great-great grandpa rocked.
In the mid 1990's I brought the group back to life as the New Mongrels using the original charter of 1866, which has created an ongoing organizational nightmare, but much great music. Members of the Mongrels include Indigo Girls, Gherkin, Michelle Malone, De De Vogt, Cowboy Envy, Big Fish Ensemble, Gerard McHugh, Caroline Aiken, and the now-legendary Dudley Manlove Quartet. The New Mongrels’ first release, Not Dead (Yet) came out in 1995.
BIG CUP OF EMPTY
Released in 1998, Big Cup of Empty was mostly created on a six week recording trip from L.A. to Seattle to Munich to Atlanta to Chapel Hill to Atlanta to L.A., using a mixture of good and bad technology and including 23 Mongrels. Drummers from different bands in different cities built a groove together; lap steel and banjo crossed paths with clarinet and french horn as each one of the twelve songs found the right voices to bring it fully to life. In keeping with the tradition of the group, this is iconoclastic roots music. It is American in the best sense: performed with conviction and unafraid to be a little weird.
NOT DEAD (YET)