'Pickin' On Pearl Jam' Performed by Iron Horse Out Today 5/12 on CMH Records

Article Contributed by Falcon Publicity | Published on Friday, May 12, 2023

Born out of a love of rock music and for the virtuosity of bluegrass musicians, CMH Records’ Pickin’ On series features the best in bluegrass, paying tribute to the biggest and brightest artists in rock and pop. Legendary grunge and alt-rock icons Pearl Jam are being celebrated with the release of Pickin’ On Pearl Jam out today, May 12. Performed by Alabama-based quartet Iron Horse, the latest in this acclaimed series showcases unique bluegrass renditions of Pearl Jam’s iconic music.

Pickin’ On Pearl Jam is out now on CD and all digital platforms. The official music video for the single “Better Man” is on YouTube.

Pickin’ On Pearl Jam is a collection of some of the biggest and best-loved songs from the Seattle legends reinterpreted through the framework of classic bluegrass instrumentation and vocal stylings. Series stalwarts Iron Horse--Tony Robertson (mandolin), Vance Henry (guitar, lead vocals), Anthony Richardson (banjo) and Ricky Rogers (bass)--have rearranged and performed these new versions of alt-rock classics using earnest sensibilities and traditional technique. There’s no winking irony to be found here. Just four guys from Muscle Shoals putting forward an honest, heartfelt tribute to the music of five guys who’ve never been anything but honest and heartfelt.

Following the release of the album’s first single “Better Man,” Loudwire proclaimed “Who knew? Pearl Jam’s ‘Better Man’ works wonderfully as a harmonica bluegrass jam.” They went on to say: “Further proving that a great song is a great song no matter the genre, the members of the Alabama-based quartet Iron Horse have adapted Pearl Jam’s ‘Better Man’ into a bluegrass jam that you need to hear.” In an early review of the album Americana Highways called it a “Pretty creative performance – grunge band songs from Pearl Jam shook up in a musical colander by a bunch of energetic bluegrass musicians known as Iron Horse,” adding “music can be applied creatively to another genre & still maintain an attractive quality. It’s all in how it’s played…its attitude & its virtuosity…they make it work.”

“We are very excited to have you all give a listen to the cuts on this project,” shares Robertson. “I'd like to share with you some interesting things about doing the Pearl Jam Project - it was very different from all the other bands that we have done tributes to up until now. The biggest difference of all was the way that we had to reinvent the way we listen to a project before we could start massaging the music into bluegrass and still keep the spirit of such a great band intact. The entire approach and feel were very different for us to get hold of in that bluegrass is very metered with phrasing and timing being 4/4 driven and then Pearl Jam brought their own meter to the party. The more we listened and studied the way the members played together and interacted in their music, the more we appreciated what this band’s musical genius was, and that being ‘incredibly disciplined but loosely attached.’

“The way I would describe it is, it's as if the music and the vocals are distinctly different from each other yet they find a way to mesh together for the greater good. It made a very interesting and creative workspace for us to dig into. It was certainly a challenge but fun at the same time. One fine example of this was in the way ‘Spin the Black Circle’ transcribed. The music pushed bluegrass boundaries and tapped into an interesting approach that we have not been familiar with in that it had no sense of bluegrass feel but worked out great to make a cut that makes you think ‘did I just hear that?’ I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as we enjoyed paying tribute to this iconic band.”

Though Pickin’ On started modestly in 1993 with the release of Pickin’ On the Movies, tributes to The Beatles and Eagles soon followed, and by 1997 the Pickin’ On Series was on fire. It continues to thrive with one hand in traditional bluegrass and the other in popular music, ready for the next chance to create innovative bluegrass music.

Pickin’ On Nirvana, the previous Pickin’ On series release featuring Iron Horse, was well-received and garnered press from Rolling Stone, Brooklyn Vegan, and Uproxx, among others. Pickin’ On Modest Mouse and Fade to Bluegrass: The Bluegrass Tribute to Metallica both charted on Billboard’s Top Bluegrass Albums chart. The series has also been given extensive retrospective write-ups by Los Angeles Times and No Depression and currently has over 190,000 monthly listeners and more than 90,000 followers on Spotify. Songs from Pickin’ On have been featured in the television series Revolution and HBO’s True Blood. Other artists that have been given the Pickin’ On treatment include Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, the Allman Brothers Band, Coldplay, The Black Keys, Jack White, The Killers and many more.

Track listing for Pickin’ On Pearl Jam:

    Better Man
    Even Flow
    Given to Fly
    Spin the Black Circle
    Just Breathe
    Yellow Ledbetter