The Show Ponies Give Bluegrass A Run For the Money

Article Contributed by HearthMusic | Published on Thursday, November 20, 2014

There’s California sunshine in the music of Los Angeles indie Americana band The Show Ponies, even a hint of that West Coast brand of optimism. Joined by special guest bluegrass banjo master Noam Pikelny, their new EP, Run For Your Life, showcases their driving hooks and good-humored harmonies, even while tackling tough subjects like life in the modern world. The Show Ponies tour hard, play hard, and take the business of their craft seriously. Each of their albums, including their new EP, have been crowd funded from their many fans and supporters, and they frequently tour to rapturous crowds. It helps that they have a fantastically entertaining live show, but what’s surprising is that they’re able to translate the intensity of their stage performances to the recording studio, a traditionally difficult feat. On Run For Your Life, The Show Ponies channel their bluegrass roots into a new kind of indie Americana, flush with racing fiddle lines, barn-burning banjo solos, and the kind of old-school harmonies that are still at the heart of American roots music. But they’re also children of a new century, and their songs are written for their new life on the road; each member of The Show Ponies has now quit their day job and the band is going full bore. This gives new meaning to the title of the EP, Run For Your Life!

Founded by lead singers and songwriters Andi Carder and Clayton Chaney, The Show Ponies includes guitarist and producer Jason Harris, champion fiddler Philip Glenn, and master percussionist Kevin Brown. The music they make now can be described as Bluegrass-Infused Americana, but really they’re just making songs that speak to their lives today. “Honey, Dog and Home” reflects the reality of hard-touring bands, as Carder sings of being 14 days on the road and how hard it is to keep up appearances. The title track, “Run For Your Life,” showcases The Show Ponies tight, complex arrangements and rollicking full band sound, but also speaks to our modern reality of debt-ridden malaise. The only way out is to “run for your life!” Using old-school call-and-response singing, the light-hearted “Stupid,” is a romp of a love song that’s brings in an early 1940s big band jazz sound. “Get Me While I’m Young” chronicles the struggles of translating young love into marriage, while the final track “Some Lonesome Tune” offers a deeply powerful perspective on modern faith.

The Show Ponies’ new EP is the perfect introduction to their music, and they couldn’t have made it without the help of banjo master Noam Pikelny. Noam came onboard to be a part of the EP, joining The Show Ponies on the songs “Honey, Dog and Home” and “Stupid.” Just a few weeks later, Noam was at the International Bluegrass Music Association Awards picking up Album of the Year and Banjo Player of the Year!

With Run For Your Life, The Show Ponies are crafting anthems for their generation, fueled by soaring vocals, ultra-tight picking, meticulously arranged instrumental parts, and masterful musicianship. This is a band that wears their hearts on their sleeves and is only looking for room to run.