WHEN: 6:30 p.m., today
By Sheena Barnett
NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO - What a difference two years make.
When Scene last caught up with the men of Mayhem String Band, they were about to release their debut record, "Rapscallions and Ne'erdowellers," and Spin Magazine had dubbed them "the best time you'll have this month."
In just two years' time, J.T. Lack, Kevin Larkin, Chris Steiner and Ben Johnson have left their homes in Oxford to tour the country, becoming regulars in the bluegrass circuit, and have just released their sophomore record, "Land Pirates."
"The last two years have been great. We feel like we've accomplished a lot," Lack said. "We've gotten to where we stay on the road a good part of the year."
Mayhem String Band will be home long enough to play at Tupelo's Down on Main Street Summer Concert Series today, but plenty of tour dates in Florida, Indiana and Michigan await. If you can't catch the guys at a local show, they're getting state-wide and national airplay on the radio, too.
Mayhem String Band has been featured on the MPB show "Grassroots," hosted by Bill Ellison, as well as MPB's "Arts Hour." The band's also been played on "Hillbilly Jim's Moonshine Matinee" on Outlaw Country on Sirius Radio.
"It blows my mind that it's nationwide, so we've been getting national airplay," Lack said. "It's really, really cool for us."
Those stations are playing cuts off the band's new record, "Land Pirates."
Mayhem String Band recorded the album with producer Jimbo Mathus, who performed at Fairpark last summer.
"Land Pirates" was recorded at Mathus' studio in Como.
"It was just always a very relaxed - well, I hate to use the word vibe, but I guess that's what it was," Lack said. "We recorded it in about three days. ... With our first record, we overthought everything. We went out to Jimbo's, and that's why we went out there - he's not about trying to get everything just right. It's a little bit loosey goosey."
Mathus joined in on a few tunes, as did Ferd Moyse, a member of the Hackensaw Boys and a good friend of Mayhem String Band. Moyse is joining the band on the road as well.
Down on Main Street
A Mayhem String Band show is always energetic, and Lack gives credit to the band's brand of bluegrass.
"One thing we've got on our side is the kind of music we play. It's undeniable," he said. "If you have a soul, you're gonna tap your foot. If you have ears and a heart, you'll tap your foot. We can guarantee that."
Lack invites families to check out the band's show in Tupelo.
"When we play festivals, there are usually these little bitty kids who can barely walk, and when they get that beat, those kids are always the first ones to start dancing. They don't have to have a six pack of beer to dance," Lack said, laughing. "I love to be sitting out on that stage and see two or three little rugrats cutting it up in front. It's definitely a good show for the family, from the little tyke to grandpa."