At the Boathouse, 2000 maybe?

Search This Blog

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Sons of Bill - Joey's Arm

"Joey's Arm" is elegantly clean and direct like the best of country ballads. For such ballads to succeed they need emotional power carried through the voice and something to say. Clearly James Wilson's melodically gruff sound carries that off in spades and is pushed further by the harmonies with his brother Sam. The lyrics may not be quite as obvious in their part, but what they capture about the New South is the stark and often muffled pain of building a life there, especially in the rural areas. When I first heard this it was like a punch in the chest from my own childhood in Southwestern Virginia. They're saying something.
       Sons of Bill is a 5 piece rock/country band with two full length albums out, and a third on the way which is being produced by David Lowery (Cracker, Camper Van Beethoven). They have performed this tune acoustically several times for different public radio stations and it was on the website of WHRO in Norfolk that I first found them (I was unable to embed the performance here but you can find it about halfway down the page from the link above). This version is from a public radio performance in their home town of Charlottesville on WNRN. Both are worth checking out. I found the instrumentation on the NRN version to be better recorded but felt the vocals hit a higher emotional register on the HRO version. They're all over YouTube, you can of course buy the albums, and check them out at .