When Blythe Crawford and Willie Gammell dream of success, they don’t envision living on easy street in the accumulated wealth from suddenly making it big as a band.
The Galt Line duo would just like a little more time to do what they’re already doing: playing in coffee shops and seedy bars to small and enthusiastic crowds, and, in between shows, traveling the world.
“Our concept of success is being craftsmen and making a living,” Gammell said.
The D.C.-based band brought their blend of punk and rockabilly dance music (what they call “Screamin’ Swing”) to in Leesburg on Feb. 9.
Their lyrics are wry and raw, and touch on everything from drinking too much, to surviving a bad job, to discovering a bedbug infestation. Crawford sings in a voice like whiskey and honey - smooth and warm, with a kick. They use guitar, ukulele, bottle caps, and foot stamps to create their highly rhythmic music that gives a nod to American folk and dance traditions, while still sounding new.
“We don’t want to sound antique,” Crawford said.
The two biggest influences for the band are Gogol Bordello, a Gypsy punk band, and the Count Basie Orchestra, a big band jazz group from the swing era.
The Galt Line was formed two years ago, after Crawford and Gammell moved up to Brooklyn, N.Y., together. Gammell was looking for guitar work, and Crawford was hoping to get into theatre. Both had played band instruments in high school, and after Crawford fell in love with the ukulele during a theatre production about a man who loved ukuleles, the two thought they would form a band to bring in a little extra money.
“But we realized there wasn’t much money to be made unless you really started doing it,” Crawford said.
Gammell is a fan of Ayn Rand and named the band after Atlas Shrugged character John Galt.
“We wanted something that sounded distinctly American, and the railroad reference helped out,” Gammell said. “It gives us a kick in the pants when we don’t feel like doing much.”
Gammell’s dream gig would be on the streets of the French Quarter in New Orleans, La., since that was the womb for so many of the varied strains of the American music tradition. They’d someday like to have more band members, but right now they’re just enjoying the chance to meet new people and see new places.
The Galt Line will be back at Shoe’s Cup and Cork Club in Leesburg on April 13. Visit www.thegaltlineband.com for music, merchandise, and show times. Right now, the band is letting the buyer name the price for downloading the album.
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