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February 20, 2013

B-sides

A long day

The Downtown County Band has a very busy schedule planned to spread their modernized take on bluegrass and other classic Americana sounds around on Friday. At noon, they play WFPK’s “Live Lunch,” then head to an acoustic set at 6 p.m. at the Louisville Tea Company. The main event is a headlining show at Uncle Slayton’s at 9 p.m. LEO spoke with banjo player Keith Clifton.

Keith Clifton: We started off through a mutual friend in Frankfort. The guy who plays guitar now, Wes (Petzinger), he was just learning and took lessons from a guy in Frankfort (Dave Hawkins) who started playing mandolin, and it just turned into a band. We started listening to old-timey music. You ever heard of Stefan Grossman? I was watching a lot of his finger-picking videos, and we found these old BBC recordings, from the ’80s, I believe? He talked about all these different blues players, the different regions they were from; somehow we got hold of a big download of that, it was 15 or 20 discs of all these radio shows he did. That gave us a real big introduction. 

LEO: Who were some people he turned you on to?

KC: I think we were all interested in different styles of music. I really got into the finger-style guitar, players like Mississippi John Hurt, and from that I started digging in to old ’20s blues — there was a big resurgence of it in the ’60s and ’70s, all these old blues players were dug up by budding musicians, and they re-recorded a lot of their music. Somebody happened to find Mississippi John Hurt, took him to festivals and studios. Some other people (I discovered) were Blind Blake, Blind Willie McTell … there’s tons of them.

LEO: When did you discover this?

KC: Five or six years ago, I guess … I personally got into it heavy. If you listen to a lot of blues, a lot of slow music, it’ll slow you down (laughs).

More at downtowncountyband.com.