Magnolia Mountain bandleader Mark Utley adds his distinctive voice and songwriting skills to a tangle of varying Roots music stylings, coming out the other end with an incredibly rich and stirring strain of Folk, Country Blues and a variety of Americana shapes and sizes, all gorgeously performed by a collection of some of the best young and established musicians in the Cincinnati area. The music of MM is written and arranged by Ultey with heart-driven grace and an intuitive understanding of tradition, something that doesn’t just stop with the sound. Utley and the band have been heavily involved in raising public awareness about the serious environmental and health issues many believe result from mountaintop removal coal mining. Utley’s work on the benefit album Music for the Mountains, as well as a swell of other grassroots activities, actually had tangible results as the topic is now front-page news and opinion polls show most think the controversial methods should be stopped. Working together to right wrongs — just another part of Magnolia Mountain’s call-back/look-forward take on Folk music tradition.
You’ll Dig It If You Dig: Bob Dylan, Hank Williams and other key architects with a hand in drafting the blueprints of American Roots music. (Mike Breen, CityBeat)