July 15, 2008

The band with the identity crisis

The Town Criers could be considered the first-born child of the established but now broken-up country-folk band Fire the Saddle. They have two of the band’s members but have developed a sound uniquely their own. 

Mick Sullivan and Joe Burchett began by creating an “acoustic ensemble blending bluegrass, old-time and rock all driven by a tuba,” Sullivan says.

His contribution includes vocals, banjo and guitar, while Burchett adds fiddle, mandolin and electric guitar. They were still short one tuba player, so Brandon Johnson was recruited. Then, when audiences began getting anxious for a drummer and “it began to get difficult to (drum) with our feet, we got Greg Morris,” Sullivan says. 

The Town Criers have been in existence for a year and a half, but the four current members have been playing together for only the last four months. Their name, chosen for its old-world charm and reflective of the band’s original aim, has remained throughout. However, thoughts of being solely a bluegrass band have been abandoned. “We discovered our weird tastes are not universal” and the band has embraced more of a “folksy rock ’n’ roll (sound),” Sullivan says. 

The band’s influences derive from a hodgepodge of different bands, including John Hartford, Radiohead and The Talking Heads, he says. All members have been trained at the collegiate level, and Sullivan considers them all capable musicians. Although he admits the Criers’ array of musical interests makes it difficult to categorize them, “(We are) a band with an identity crisis … we are so deep into music, so in love with all its aspects.”


The band plays the Forecastle Festival on July 27. Find more about them at www.myspace.com/thetowncriers. Contact the writer at leo@leoweekly.com