Introducing the best Savannah band you might never have heard of.
Junkyard Angel makes raucous, rootsy music with a deep country-rock flavor, with echoes of vintage 1966 Dylan and bits of the Stones, the Burritos, Waylon, Willie and even Asleep at the Wheel tossed into the mix.
The band has been around for five years or more, and in 2009 made what might have been that year's coolest local record, Medicine Jar.
In an instant, Junkyard Angel all but disappeared.
That's because guitarist Scotty Rahn, who also writes the lion's share of the songs, had to bow out due to health issues.
Things have changed, happily for the better, and the band is back this week with an all-new set of tunes. Recorded at Skyville Studios in Nashville, Silent Hero is even more brazen fun than Medicine Jar.
"We cut 14 songs in three days," explains Stewart Marshall, one of the band's singer/guitarists. "We really just hammered 'em out. We were so excited to be there. I think a lot of it was adrenaline. We didn't do anything else."
Junkyard Angel celebrates the new release with a show Friday, June 14, at Bonna Bella Marina.
That unusual choice of venue should be your first clue that Junkyard Angel is a band that plays by — and adheres to — its own rules.
"Everybody's got jobs and families, so we're kind of tapped for time," Marshall says. "Except for my brother Jim, all of us are in our mid 40s. Between kids, soccer, lacrosse, football and karate ... one of the reasons I guess we're all in Junkyard is because we want it to work. So to put this record out is really just a labor of love."
Marshall, of course, was (and is) one-half of Stewart and Winfield, one of the region's most popular and successful touring acts of the last decade (the other fellow is Winfield Smith).
Stewart and Jim also gig around, when they can, as the Marshall Brothers.
See, the things is, there's another fly in this particular ointment. Jim Marshall lives in Johns Island, just outside of Charleston. And Allen Hughes, the band's all-purpose string master (he plays killer pedal steel, fiddle, Dobro and a half dozen others) is a resident of Athens.
Although drummer Joe Ippolito and bassist Scott Tanner live in the Savannah area, it's obviously not easy getting everyone together at the same time.
During Rahn's recuperation, Wormsleow's Andrew Gill filled in with the band. When it came time to head to Tennessee to cut the tracks for Silent Hero, Gill — who also plays lead guitar for the Marshall Brothers — graciously stepped aside to make room for Junkyard's co-founder and songsmith.
Don't expect to see the revitalized band turning up all over town, however. After spending seven years on the road with Winfield Smith, pretty much nonstop, Marshall is determined to avoid playing in some club or other every night of the week.
"I've been there, I've done that," he says, "and I think if we can strike a healthy balance of playing a certain amount of shows in any given two-month period or something like that, we'll have perspective.
"In order to properly build a market, you've really got to be a little more calculating about it, and not play every single gig that's offered to you."
And then there's this: The June 14 performance starts at 7 p.m. and will wind up at 10. "It's family-friendly," Marshall laughs. "This way, nobody has to hire a babysitter."
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