August 23, 2012


Doing what comes naturally : Tallahassee make timeless old town music on Wolfe Moon (CHRIS CONTI  |  September 22, 2009, Providence Phoenix)

Tallahassee frontman Brian Barthelmes speaks softly and carries a big beard, a burly dude who just switched vocations from bruising offensive lineman to social worker and budding singer/songwriter, penning most of the lyrics with help from Rhodes piano/banjo man Scott Thompson.

Barthelmes attended the University of Virginia, where he learned how to "finger pick a guitar and banjo and fell madly in love with Bluegrass and old-time country music. Of course, I had to listen to some metal to get rowdy before a game, but my real pleasure came after a game with a porch, a drink, an old folk record, and my friends and family," Barthelmes recalled via email while vacationing with the in-laws last week. And one need not be NFL-obsessed (guilty as charged) to get a kick out his recollections while earning a paycheck with the Pats:

"Creating art has always been my first love. I really did not care for football whatsoever . . . In 2009 I realized that I was miserable playing football professionally as I had no time for music, art, or giving back to humanity. I laugh in retrospect at my final training camp; I should have been memorizing plays and watching film, but instead I was giving guitar lessons to Junior Seau, Dan Koppen, Matt Light, Mike Vrabel, and mandolin lessons to Tedy Bruschi. I had started an illustrated poetry book for adults, and recorded an EP in my hotel room, which I debuted in the weight room. Coach Bill [Belichick] politely told me as he cut me that I may want to pursue a different profession, so here I am."

Wolfe Moon is a gorgeously crafted merger of folk, country, and blues (the band's name derives from the Muskegon Indian translation "old town") in the spirit of Fleet Foxes and Crooked Fingers, and Iron & Wine and Townes Van Zandt are proclaimed major influences. The disc follows their self-recorded '08 EP Cellar Songs; Thompson conceded the band was "never quite satisfied with how the EP turned out. "The new album is a big step forward for us," he said. "We tracked the new record in just four days, whereas we spent about four months recording the EP piecemeal. Whenever we start to overthink something it usually gets discarded pretty quickly."

The hasty process for the 11 songs on Wolfe Moon is belied in its overall grace and beauty.

Posted by at August 23, 2012 9:09 PM

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