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Terra Firma by Acoustic Syndicate

This Acoustic Syndicate hails from somewhere south o’ the McMason/McDixon line (hoot mon!), although it’s clear from even a cursory listen these cats have no truck with dividing lines of any sort. This quartet w/ an honorary saxophones-playing fifth member specializes in a spirited, easygoing-yet-non-lethargic (what we hipster-types in the 70s used to call "kinda mellow") fusion of rock, bluegrass, folk, funk and jazz. In some ways, Acoustic Syndicate recall the under-heard, way-ahead-of-their-time 1960s band Kaleidoscope (the USA one - there was also a Brit psych-pop outfit), a nominally "rock" band that commingled R&B, Middle Eastern music, etc. - both have in common a lack of bombast, a affable approach that never gets joke-y (or but-hey-aren’t-we-quirky) and accomplished musicianship that doesn’t get bogged down in hollow "technique." Steve McMurry’s vocals have a gently reedy, just-plain-folks semi-drawl not unlike Jackson Browne and Tom Johnston (the original singer for those Doobie Bros. in the early 70s), and the rhythm section imparts an invigorating first day of Spring zip to the entire proceedings. Bryon McMurry’s banjo is alternately used as a rhythm instrument or to play sparkling, linear, horn-like lines. No one "genre" heavily dominates in AS’s amalgam - folk-y vocal lines glide their way over funk-flavored jazz rhythms while the fresh bouquet of bluegrass waft throughout. For those that dig the possibilities of "fusion" with verse/chorus/verse songs a la Kaleidoscope, The Horseflies, The Grateful Dead and Boiled In Lead (and don't let's not forget the late great Sandy Bull, either), ease into this particular Syndicate.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Acoustic Syndicate
  • CD Title: Terra Firma
  • Genre: Fusion
  • Year Released: 2003
  • Record Label: Sugar Hill Records
  • Musicians: Acoustic Syndicate: Steve McMurry: guitars, vocals; Brian McMurry: banjos, vocals; Jay Sanders: acoustic & electric basses; Fitz McMurry: drums, vocals, percussion. Guests: Jeremy Saunders: saxophones; Curtis Burch: dobro.
  • Rating: Three Stars
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