The New Truth
Surging L.A. band with Southern roots hits Monterey Live.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
A little more than a month ago, on a Friday night at Monterey Live, a group of Los Angeles musicians calling themselves Truth & Salvage Co. held the audience’s full attention. The six men, who were slender as tightly rolled joints and had lots of hair between them, looked like they’d just stepped off the cover of a ’70s country rock album.
As the band’s impressive opening set for the Los Angeles rock trio The Angel/Devil came to a close, pianist/vocalist Walker Young quietly moved from his seat behind the piano to the center of the stage, grabbed a microphone and started singing the band’s “Pure Mountain Angel.” Standing just feet away, guitarist/vocalist Scott Kinnebrew swayed a bit and looked down at the ground with his arms crossed over his stomach, adding vocals to the end of each line like a churchgoer joining in on a solemn hymn. The a cappella section of the song evoked gospel, the rich country harmonies of The Oak Ridge Boys and outlaw country – all at once – before a tumble of drums and a wash of organ helped transform the song into a ragged roots rock song reminiscent of The Band.
The set, which also included originals like the catchy “She Really Does It 4 Me,” stood out for seeming as loose and comfortable as a campfire jam session, though the music was as tight and professional as one might expect from a top tier rock act. Drummer/vocalist Bill (“Smitty”) Smith says part of the band’s power comes from the fact that four of Truth & Salvage Co.’s members have played together for a decade in groups like the formerly North Carolina-based Scrappy Hamilton. “The chemistry that you see onstage is years in the making,” he says.
After Scrappy Hamilton moved to Los Angeles in 2005, the band started playing at L.A. clubs like Crane’s Hollywood Tavern and The Hotel Café, adding organist Adam Grace and guitarist/vocalist Time Jones and changing their name to Truth & Salvage Co.
Unlike most bands, four of Truth & Salvage Co.’s six members are singers and songwriters. Smith says it’s an advantage to have so many songwriters in one band. “It’s a great thing, because it allows us to approach songs more objectively,” he says.
Recently, Truth & Salvage Co. was signed to The Black Crowes’ label, Silver Arrow Records. The Crowes’ Chris Robinson will produce the group’s debut.
Smith says the CD should be out by the end of the year and will include “Welcome to L.A.,” which sounds like Son Volt doing ’70s FM rock, and the south of the border percussion and acoustic guitar-filled “101.” One of the untitled-as-of-yet release’s best tracks is sure to be “Hail Hail,” a slab of catchy, laid back roots rock with the infectious refrain: “Hail, hail/ The gang’s all here/ With their ribs full of reefer/ And their bellies full of beer.”
Truth & Salvage Co. also recently joined the roster of musicians represented by Paradigm, a talent agency with an office in Monterey that represents Aerosmith, Dave Matthews Band and Lyle Lovett. With all of its band members in their mid-30s, Truth & Salvage Co. are hoping that Paradigm helps them reach a larger audience by pairing them on tours with more established acts. (They’ll join Jackie Greene on his upcoming Northwest tour.)
“We are at a point in our lives,” Smith says, “where we don’t have a choice but to play music.”
TRUTH & SALVAGE CO. open for Cornmeal 8pm Monday, May 4, at Monterey Live, 414 Alvarado St., Monterey. $7. 373-5483.