Little Country Giants
Little Country Giants - Unapologetically Appalachian and Unashamed in Sadness
Over the course of three albums Georgia's Little Country Giants have marked themselves as perhaps the finest new purveyors of southern acoustic roots music in the Appalachian, country, and folk tradition. Delivering pure, simple, and timeless rustic songs touching on country, bluegrass, and even rural blues, husband-and-wife duo Cameron Federal and Russell Cook produce artful work on par with the finest of the expansive genre.
While they began playing together upon meeting in 1998, the duo formed Little Country Giants in 2004 following years of travels and skillfully honing their songwriting craft together from Athens, Georgia, to San Francisco, and back to the north Georgia mountains. Voted Atlanta's Best Traditional Folk Act by Creative Loafing in 2005 and 2006, the group has wowed audiences across the country, performing at some of the finest folk venues and festivals, including Pickathon, Americana Folk Festival, Club Passim, Eddie's Attic, and more.
In their latest work, Fists of Foam & Fury, the couple offers their finest collection to date, a rich, lasting collection of stark, rural portraits and an intimate glimpse of the struggles and power of love and faith. Recorded and produced by Rich Feaster (Thad Cockrell, Bonnie Prince Billy, Blind Boys of Alabama) at The Castle in Nashville, FOF&F is delightfully sparse, colored with touches of distant, classic AM-styled pedal steel, mandolin, playful fiddle, and light percussion. Feaster brings forth sophisticated, unaffected bluegrass arrangements, capturing an organic, raw sound. Top musicianship is on show here, from the precise rhythms of Russell's jazzy-blues chords to the tasteful accompaniment, Cameron's trusty upright bass filling out the sound.
Utilizing a revolving line-up of talented players, FOF&F features mandolin aces Mike Compton (Nashville Bluegrass Band, Elvis Costello) and David Long (Asylum Street Spankers), Matt Combs (John Hartford, Ray Price) on fiddle, Joseph Evans on guitar, and Andy Kilinski on pedal steel.
And then there are the voices. Cameron's sweet and stunning, angelic, almost child-like voice and Russell's southern croon each hold a unique personality, providing a balance and strong dynamic character throughout the record. Together, the Cooks' voices blend beautifully, creating some of the finest lush and moving harmonies in today's music.
Both Cameron and Russell grew up listening to the folk, rock, bluegrass and gospel they heard at church and in their families homes. That same "down home" feel runs through their sound and songs' themes. Gospel numbers are offered throughout, from highlights "Power an the Glory" ("I have faith though it is blind/ I know that's the only kind/ I've seen the power but I'm still waiting on the glory") and the soft- swinging "Weary Worn Wanderers" ("Shelter your soul with glory divine/ like darkness to light/ wrong turns to right/ heaven will come") Russell turns phrases with the best of them, delivering "Everything is coming then it's goin' away" and "Poor man borrows crooked man steals/ time finds both boys pushing up the fields" in the catchy tune "Time".
Cameron provides heartwarming, moving moments in the soft, expressive beauty of her love songs: "Bed of You", "Fly", "Your Annie Is Gone", and the aching "Mamma Please". Her smooth vocals on other standouts "I Think of You", "Fists of Foam & Fury" ("Gonna eat that bone, spit out the chicken"), and closer "Albany" ride effortlessly above the driving acoustic strumming, steel surges, and piano fills coloring the parlor pickin' party goodness of the various tracks.
Influenced by such disparate artists as Billy Joe Shaver, Mahalia Jackson, Grateful Dead, delta blues, and Pink Floyd, LCG's emotive and powerful delivery distinguishes them from the pack. "What I really love about music is the human connection to emotion," shares Russell. "Good music is felt music, and it seems like that raw, stripped down sound of old blues or field hollers or mountain music or country gospel have a real, unadorned connection to the reasons why people are playing and singing in the first place."
"I'm a really big fan of acoustic blues and that meeting point between country and jazz that happened with Jimmie Rodgers and Bob Wills," says Cook. "I also love anybody that can pull off an old standard in a different context, like Willie Nelson's 'Stardust' or any of Ray Charles' country stuff. A good song is a good song, no matter how you dress it."
It is this balance of songwriting, gorgeous voices, lyrical scope, and tasteful instrumentation which allows FOF&F, rooted in old time acoustic tradition, to stretch from soft love songs to shuffles, country to delta blues in a memorable collection that will melt your heart and call for your companionship time and again.
Masters of the lexicon of rural music, Little Country Giants, in a fair world, will stand alongside such deservedly revered standard bearers of traditional music as Gillian Welch, Guy Clark, and Emmy Lou Harris. These songs taste like the south, rich with the sounds of Georgia's roots and the musical seeds of America grown. After all, they're giants.
Cameron Federal Cook (Upright bass & vocals)
Russell Cook (Guitar, mandolin, and vocals)
Backing band consists of various musicians, including mandolin players David Long, Michael Smith, or Mike Compton , fiddle players Leah Calvert, Rurik Newnan, Matt Combs, or David Blackmon, guitar picker Joseph Evans, pedal steel player Andy Kilinski, and percussionist Rob Robinson.
2005 Little Country Giants, Breaking Hearts and Living Free
2006 Little Country Giants, Sing Pretty for the People
2009 Little Country Giants, Fists of Foam and Fury
LInk To Little Country Giants Website