Somewhere up on Cripple Creek, there’s an old log cabin where the gang used to gather to pass the bottle and trade tall tales. Sometimes, a back-porch pickin’ party would break out, and they’d spend hours strumming country-rock classics, drivin’ that train through the Band, the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and various Burrito Brothers, and even entering ex-Beatles territory on “Crippled Inside.” (Yes, dogs did howl along with their lusty harmonies on that one.)
That’s the actual story of Austin band Sour Bridges’ birth. Well, maybe the cabin was really an apartment, and maybe it was closer to Lady Bird Lake (and maybe the dogs merely snored), but it did have a porch where friends gathered, bottles were passed and picking parties occurred. The songs also moved into original territory rather quickly, sprouting into a sound they call browngrass—“like bluegrass, but a little dirtier”—but it grows from that same country-rock soil. In fact, you can almost hear the history of American roots music in the strong harmonies and intricate arrangements of the band’s fourth album, Neon Headed Fool (May 24, 2019).
Its 10 tracks, all but one written by lead singer and rhythm guitar/banjo/harmonica player Bill Pucci, capture the good-time vibe of a porch pickin’ party, while reflecting a deepening maturity in subject matter. It’s a natural evolution for a band that’s been together since 2010—though Sour Bridges actually has its genesis in the Pocono Mountains of Northeastern Pennsylvania.
That’s where Long Island-born Pucci and his brother, Matt (lead guitar, mandolin, vocals), were raised. Both are self-taught players, but their musical interests were encouraged by their grandfather, who bought them instruments and even built Bill’s four left-handed banjos. They made their way to Austin in 2007, immediately finding a community of like-minded talents. Their latest incarnation includes Will Vaughan on bass and vocals and Garrett Ross on drums and percussion. “He’s a little more of a rock drummer,” says Bill, “so there’s a little bit of a different vibe.”
Recorded at the Finishing School studio in Austin, Neon Headed Fool was produced by Daniel Watters (the Watters), who contributes percussion and electric guitar. The album also features renowned fiddler Warren Hood (the Waybacks, BoDeans) and keyboardist Trevor Nealon (the Band of Heathens). On Sour Bridges’ upcoming tour, they’ll be joined by fiddler Felicia Hellems; keyboardist Ben Morgan also sits in on occasion.
The tour launches May 30 in Amarillo, Texas, then stops in Denver and Salt Lake City before heading through the Pacific Northwest (Boise, Idaho; Portland and Eugene, Oregon; and Seattle, Washington) and ending back in Austin. (See tour dates below.) Before the band hits the road, they’ll play a handful of Austin-area dates including the Bastrop Music Festival (May 18) and Sun Radio’s Texas Radio Live at Güero’s Oak Garden (May 22). Visit the band’s website for a full list.
Sour Bridges tour dates
May 30 – Golden Light Cantina, Amarillo, Texas (with Jomo & the Possum Posse)
May 31 – The Walnut Room, Denver (with Jomo & the Possum Posse, Larry Nix)
June 4 – Gracie’s, Salt Lake City, Utah
June 5 – Pengilly’s Saloon, Boise, Idaho
June 6 – Laurelthirst Public House, Portland, Oregon
June 7 – Sam Bond's Garage, Eugene, Oregon
June 9 – Central Saloon, Seattle
June 11 – Gracie’s, Salt Lake City, Utah
June 15 – The White Horse, Austin