Bob Marston’s musical journey as a child, singing songs written by his mother for his brother, sister, and himself, local sanitation workers, and whatever else they came across during their days. Bob’s older brother George began playing piano at age 4 and once he was old enough, Bob would sing the Bruce Springsteen, Chuck Berry, Cyndi Lauper or Bob Seger songs that George played.
Bob explored a broad variety of styles and eras of music, from Jimmie Rodgers, the Carter Family, Robert Johnson, and John Hurt to Bob Dylan, Stax, Motown, the Meters and the Grateful Dead, all the way through to Blind Melon, Widespread Panic, Gillian Welch, the Roots, Jason Isbell, and the Wood Brothers, and such singer/songwriters as John Prine, Carole King, and Townes Van Zandt. While doing his student teaching on a military base in Germany, Bob bought a guitar and began learning songs. A few months later, while studying in Paris, Bob wrote his very first song, inspired by one of his favorites, Prine’s “That’s the Way the World Goes Round.”
Over the next decade or so, Bob went about establishing himself as a singing/songwriting/working musician first in Jackson, Mississippi and then back home in Birmingham, Alabama, playing throughout the Southeast in such renowned venues as the Nick Rocks, WorkPlay Theatre, the FloraBama, the Shack Up Inn, Hal & Mal’s, and Whitewater Tavern until a certain pandemic stopped live performances.
In an unlikely turn of events, the suspension of live music ended up offering an unexpected opportunity, when the owner of Slag Heap Brewing Co. on the east side of Birmingham asked Bob to bring a full band to play an outdoor, distanced show to bring live music back to the brewery. It was a big success and led to Bob bringing the band back once a month, weather permitting. Playing with the full band allowed Bob to begin reimagining the styles and arrangements of his existing material. And so began the decision to commit to his original music and recording of a full-length album.
So who are the Credible Sources? Bob Marston (acoustic guitar/electric guitar/lead vocals) is accompanied by George Hipp (acoustic guitar/electric guitar/dobro/ backing vocals), Natalie Valentine (backing vocals), Aaron Branson or Eric Onimus on bass, and drummer Brett Huffman. The album also features keyboardist Matt Slocum (Railroad Earth, Jimmy Herring, and many more), vocalist LaToya Matthews, bassist Adrian Marmolejo (Early James and the Latest). Trombonist Chad Fisher (St. Paul and the Broken Bones), Allen Branstetter (St. Paul and the Broken Bones) on trumpet, and Gary Wheat on saxophone and clarinet bring horns, while fiddler Adam Purvis, Niamh Tuohy (violin), Melanie Richardson-Rodgers (viola), and Patty Pillon (cello) add strings.
This diverse support allows the band, such as it is, to intersect americana folk and rock with clear improvisational roots over a tight structure of intricately-woven guitar parts, solid bass and drum groove, and emotive vocals, a sound that garners comparisons to The Grateful Dead, Wilco, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and more. ‘Real Magic Good People’ exudes an Eagles-like reggae confidence for example, ‘Pick up your Guitar’ is a light, lively happy days shuffle and ‘Lying Eyes’ gets all late-night New Orleans groove, if rather cleanly recorded. For example.
And so, on the latest step of this journey of self-discovery, this album provides an avenue for his empathic creativity as he explores love and devotion through the classic lens of managing challenging relationships and processing life-altering heartbreak to pondering life’s big questions and issues of social injustice. A laudable debut and entertainingly diverse look at life.
- By the Way
- Diamond a Day
- Real Magic Good People
- Right by You
- Pick up your Guitar
- So Long
- Lyin Eyes
- Pick you First
- Far and Wide
Read the review!