Assembly Lane brings together four young Newcastle-based musicians immersed in the shared musical traditions of The British Isles and North America. Their dynamic arrangements of traditional and contemporary material from both sides of the Atlantic effortlessly blend ancient ballads and progressive bluegrass with rich vocal harmonies and instrumental flair. They’re definitley one to watch for. Assembly Lane are Matthew Ord (guitar, vocals), Tom Kimber (mandolin), Niles Krieger (fiddle, vocals) and Bevan Morris (double bass). The will self-release their debut album Northbound on November 10th from which we take our Song of the Day – The Hills of Mexico.
The band shared the following on The Hills of Mexico: “The Hills of Mexico” is a 19th-century American ballad depicting a cattle drive gone awry on the southern plains of Texas. Matt (guitar, vocals) learned it from an old, high and lonesome Folkways recording of Kentucky banjo picker Roscoe Holcomb, and it was a feature of his solo sets before the formation of Assembly Lane. When Niles (fiddle) heard Matt’s solo performance of the ballad, he was enamoured with its dramatic imagery and was keen to work on a full-band arrangement: enter Tom and Bevan. Assembly Lane’s interpretation is a fine summation of the band’s sound, which seamlessly blends traditions from both sides of the Atlantic.
Although none of the band’s members are native Geordies, they were drawn together from both sides of the Atlantic around Newcastle’s thriving music scene. Their choice of material reflects these varied origins: ancient British ballads sit alongside selections from Basement Tapes-era Dylan and tales of truancy from New England, peppered with vibrant progressive bluegrass compositions by mandolinist Tom Kimber. Rather than sounding like a musical identity crisis, however, Assembly Lane’s debut album is an effortlessly cohesive work, united by the band’s enthusiasm for and sensitivity towards the material’s common heritage.
“We never set out to start a band”, says Kimber, “for a couple of years we would just meet up to jam whenever we could, and ended up with all this material, so we hit the road.” Armed with this deep insight into each other’s musicianship, the band took the live circuit by storm, wowing audiences at some of the country’s flagship festivals and arts centres… and quite a few pubs too!
When the time came to cut a record, the choice of producer was obvious: “Josh Clark (Kate Rusby, Flook) is something of a legend on the folk and bluegrass circuits – he really knows how to bring the best out of everyone he works with” raves fiddler Niles Krieger. Recorded over a long weekend at Josh’s ‘Get Real Audio’ in Bath, NORTHBOUND is characterised by a level of maturity and subtlety that is rarely found in a debut – due in no small part to those halcyon days of carefree jamming. In an effort to faithfully capture their live sound, the band recorded all the parts simultaneously, using only their voices, guitar, bass, fiddle and mandolin throughout. Calling on their skills as versatile and open-minded musicians, however, they use various techniques and textures to evoke a rich and varied soundscape that continually excites and surprises
Assembly Lane will be touring throughout 2017/2018 to support the release of Northbound, which will be available at all of their shows presented with original artwork by Phoebe Stephenson and Rupert Hughes. If you can’t make it to a gig, you will be able to purchase a copy online from the band’s website at www.assemblylane.com