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The Rundown

Music Feature by Steve Centanni

By Steve Centanni

MARCH 20, 2013



For several months, the Southeast has been getting to know The Mulligan Brothers. This quartet is comprised of local notables Ross Newell (vocalist/guitarist), Ben Leininger (upright bassist) and Greg DeLuca (percussionist), while Baton Rouge fiddle/mandolin player Gram Rea rounds out this group.

Newell could be considered the keystone member of the band. He and Rea met and began a casual collaboration. Later on, Newell added Leininger and DeLuca to the mix. With Rea hailing from Baton Rouge, many would think that getting together for rehearsals might be out of the question. DeLuca admitted that this had been a challenge for the band, but they make the most out of every practice.

Many may be familiar with DeLuca, Newell and Leininger from their previous bands. Newell fronted Mobile rockers Hamelin. DeLuca and Leininger are known for their work with local jam powerhouse The Rez. However, do not expect The Mulligan Brothers to reflect their previous work. Together with Rea, they have created a pure Americana sound, based in old school country and bluegrass sounds, with extremely subtle rock overtones sprinkled throughout each track. Newell is considered the primary songwriter in the band with Rea penning his share of songs as well.

"It’s definitely a change of pace,” DeLuca said. "I guess I’m maturing on my instrument faster than I normally would have. It’s definitely about singing and the songs than it is about drums or any other instrument.”

Acoustic instrumentation is given priority with no electronic effects thrown into the mix. Leininger’s suitcase bass (built by Newell) is probably the latest instrument technology this band employs. This combination has resulted in a natural sound that is appeasing on many different levels. Newell has taken a Hamelin song called "Lay Here” and brought it down to deep Americana roots. DeLuca is quick to admit this minimalist approach to music is quite a departure from their previous bands.

"We’ve all been fans of under-processed music as opposed to over-processed,” DeLuca said. "We just wanted to use our instruments instead of (studio/electronic) tricks to get different sounds.”

So far, the public has sampled the homespun sounds of The Mulligan Brothers through live performances and three tracks on their website. However, this will change in the very near future. The group has been spending time at Dancing Dog Studio in Daphne with Andy Cloninger. Producer Phil Anderson has also been lending them a very helpful hand in the studio. Anderson first became aware of The Mulligan Brothers through a man named Stewart Logan, who is the band’s booking agent and friend.

Anderson currently resides in Nashville, but he calls Scotland his home. He is known throughout Europe for both his work on guitar through his extensive touring with European country bands. After getting off the road, Anderson began engineering in the studio with a focus on folk and won an award for his work with the Gordon Gunn Trio. Anderson was granted U.S. immigration in 2004. He now works extensively in Nashville with up-and-coming groups. DeLuca is quick to admit that Anderson’s culturally influenced musical background and advice was quite beneficial in the studio.

"It was great, because he’s a phenomenal guitar player,” DeLuca explained. "The sounds of Scotland are reminiscent of the Americana sound, where there’s fiddle and a lot of acoustic guitar. So, it definitely lent itself to what we’re doing, and he knew what he was doing.”

As far as their soon-to-be titled debut is concerned, DeLuca revealed their minimalist ideology was centric throughout the recording process, and it is witnessed within each track. The quartet concentrated on keeping their sounds as natural as possible. They utilized no studio effects during their sessions. Their purpose was to make the best songs possible by keeping it simple and pure, but the public should not expect simple songs.

The Mulligan Brothers portray an ethereal power in many of the songs found on this debut effort. Accented by Rea’s haunting fiddle and Newell’s heartfelt lyrics, "Kaleidoscope” eases through a warm world of longing with flawless harmonies riddled throughout the song. "Cecilia” is another memorable tune. This one is a two-step with lyrics that would bring tears to the eyes of Steve Earle. "One Trick Pony” is a song filled with the poetic anguish of the world weary,  emphasized by Newell’s wailing, velveteen vocals.

The Mulligan Brothers originally planned on releasing their debut at their 92 Zew Second Tuesday performance Tue., April 9 at the Downtown Mobile location of Moe’s Original BBQ. However, sometimes the creation process tends to cause set-backs when it comes to releasing albums. Currently, the album is still going through the mixing process in Nashville with their producer Phil Anderson. Anderson will be heading back across the pond to Scotland very soon and taking the group’s tracks with him. While there, he will take them into his own studio to finish mixing the album. After it is mastered and duplicated, The Mulligan Brothers’ debut will be ready for public consumption.

Until the album’s release, those interested in this group’s fresh sounds should try and make it out to a live performance in the Azalea, but this comes with one caveat. The Mulligan Brothers are a very busy band. Their tour schedule boasts shows from Denham Springs, La. to Pensacola, Fla. They have also been confirmed for the Gulfport Music Festival (May 10-11), where they will perform alongside bands such as The Wallflowers, Wiz Khalifa and Smashing Pumpkins. All those who cannot make it to a live performance should tune into Fox 10’s "Studio 10” for a televised performance on Fri., April 5.

As far as future plans, The Mulligan Brothers have goals to spread their sounds around the globe, literally speaking. There has been talking amongst members concerning a tour of the Midwest in June and even a European tour. But before they dust off their passports, The Mulligan Brothers’ number one priority is releasing their debut to the public and feeling the unbridled love (both regional and beyond) that is sure to follow.

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What should be Mayor-elect Stimpson's top priority?

Examining the budget.
Evaluating city employees.
Addressing public safety issues.
Improving infrastructure.
Free fish plates.

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