Review: Curtis/Sutton & The Scavengers – ‘Whiskey Rain’

Boise Idaho based group Curtis/Sutton & The Scavengers use traditional acoustic instruments of banjo, string bass, dobro, fiddle and guitar in a very nontraditional way to create a neo-folk modern Aire sound they describe as “Country Folk meets swamp Blues.” Their second album Whiskey Rain, release in August of 2017 edifies that sound in a collection of 12 original tracks of fresh faced roots infused musical inspiration.  

The Scavengers as a group are a revolving cast of characters led by songwriters Charlie Sutton and Ryan Curtis, who trade off lead vocal duties from song to song, and anchored by their only full-timers, Sam Alkire on upright bass and Adam Straubinger on Fiddle.

A lonesome moan from that fiddle opens the album then gives way to the countrified emo ramble “Bacon & Beans,” then downshifts for the eerie blues “Want it to Work,’ featuring some gritty vocals from Curtis and spooky slide guitar. Sutton then leads on vocals and banjo for the energetic twist on a traditional tale of murder and hard times “No Good Son.”  Curtis gets about as low down as a man can get on the lament “I Don’t Care.” The title track takes us back to the pioneer days of the old west, then the contemplative country song “California Man,” spells out the troubles of modern times. The clever lyrics of “Monster Pick Up,” illustrates a troubled romance via a truck driving allegory. Sutton delivers fiery banjo picking on the rocking “Talk a Little Less,” and the minor key dirge “Meadowlark,” has a very Northwest Grunge rock gone acoustic aesthetic.

The ensemble is boosted by drums and reverb soaked electric guitar on the straight-ahead rockabilly track “Country Bound.” Then returns to form for the bitter sweet confessional “Count on Me.” The fine set of tunes closes with the high lonesome ballad “Shame.” Curtis and Sutton are gifted songwriters who have taken cues from Cohen and Cash and fearlessly mix the old with the new in creative ways.

(Listen to ‘Whiskey Rain’ below via Bandcamp and you can also get more info about Curtis/Sutton & The Scavengers at their website HERE.)

Rick Bowen

Rick grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan playing in school band, choir and show bands. While earning a BA at Western Michigan University in History and Social Science, he was a member of the Bronco marching band and jazz ensemble Gold Company. Moving to the Northwest in 1994, Rick soon landed gigs and sessions with many diverse local artists and is currently a member of the award winning Stacy Jones Band and the host of the all ages School of Jam. Rick is also an associate producer and session musician for Critical Sun Recordings, a contributing writer at Innocent Words, Seattle Examiner, No Depression, The Washington Blues Society and S.T.E.A.M magazine, and serves on the board of directors for the Washington Blues Society. Rick is endorsed by and plays THUMPER CUSTOM DRUMS. Awards: Washington Blues Society “Best of the Blues” award 2009 Best New Band –Stacy Jones Band WBS “Best of the Blues” award 2012 Best Blues Jam - Oxford Saloon Monday Night Jam 2013 & 2014 WBS Best Blues Writer award. 2014 WBS Chris Leighton Blues Drummer BB Award. Nominations: 2009 & 2013 Best Blues Drummer WBS BB awards. 2012 Best NW recording “No Need To Spell it Out –Stacy Jones Band (Rick J Bowen co producer)