"Lee Bains + The Glory Fires have long been one of my favorite live rock and roll bands, blowing the walls out of venues worldwide while also growing exponentially with each release into one of the most lyrically insightful and politically inspiring bands of recent years. Old-Time Folks, helmed by longtime DBT producer David Barbe, takes them to new sonic levels, making a record that comes closer than ever before to actually capturing their live assault while holding up as an album you’ll want to play (loud) over and over." - Patterson Hood (Drive-By Truckers)
On Old-Time Folks, produced in Athens, GA by David Barbe (Drive-By Truckers, Sugar, Son Volt),Bains sets out to investigate the band’s stomping grounds of Alabama and West Georgia, and to summon stories of that land’s peoples, rising up collectively to defend and liberate themselves from systems of power and exploitation.
Today, Lee Bains + The Glory Fires have released the epic album coda "God's A-Working, Man" across all streaming platforms and Bandcamp.
The album is available for pre-order now.
While Lee + the Glory Fires have spent a decade propagating what the New York Times calls “pandemonium with a conscience,” Bains and rhythm section Adam and Blake Williamson recently found themselves listening to records that were more produced, arranged, and textured than their own past work, to records that struck them as timeless and immense, ones that invited you in, to get lost in the details. On many bleary-eyed interstate drives, they talked about wanting to make a classic record – not a transparent document of their playing live with the occasional embellishment – but a record. They talked about working with a producer who had made such albums. About taking Bains’ songs and deconstructing them, stripping them down to their most minimal elements, reimagining them, and building them back up again. They talked about closely considering arrangements, digging into their varied influences. Swapping instruments. Getting high-fidelity sounds. Inviting guest musicians. Incorporating percussion and synthesizers and horns and strings. Maybe even doing a song or two without a blaring electric guitar, or even–gasp–without a guitar at all.
So, that’s what they did. They contacted Athens, GA's David Barbe, whose work with the Drive-By Truckers, Sugar, Son Volt, Vic Chesnutt and countless other artists has earned him a legendary reputation amongst Southern independent rockers, and they agreed to set about bringing this vision to fruition. After months of recording demos with John Paul Foster in Montevallo, Alabama and going over arrangements with Texas punk stalwart and longtime collaborator Tim Kerr (who the band calls their “coach”), the band decamped to Athens to record with Barbe at Chase Park Transduction in December of 2019. Soon after laying down the initial tracks, the COVID-19 pandemic erupted, and the usually hard-touring trio soon found themselves at home with yet more time to consider, flesh out, and arrange this new batch of songs. The result is an album whose levels of dynamics, nuance, range, and intimacy are new for the band. Enriching those explorations are kindred musical spirits like pianist Thayer Sarrano, organist Jay Gonzalez (Drive-By Truckers), singer Kym Register (Loamlands), horn players William Washington and Theresa May (Mourning A BLKstar), and string arranger Annie Leeth, whose idiosyncratic contributions to the album deepen that sense of collectivism that the lyrics invoke.
Just as the album’s music meanders between jagged rock’n’roll and churchy swells, feedback-drenched dirges and orchestral rave-ups, the lyrics lead us through those rich varied lands and time itself: black-masked protestors face SWAT tanks in smoggy cities; Muscogee warriors encircle a colonial fort along a muddy river; incarcerated workers noisily strike in a maximum-security prison surrounded by cottonfields; coal miners barricade the entrance of a mine; kids talk politics in the alley out back of a punk show; families gather outside a country church to prepare a dinner on the grounds. As we encounter these people and places, we sink deeper into what Bains calls “old-time,” that which connects us to those who have gone before, to the land, to each other, and to something deeper and older still.
While tackling such lofty political, historical and philosophical concepts, the album is also the band’s most intimate, vulnerable and spiritual to date. The perspective is both outward- and inward-facing, Bains never taking on the persona or experience of others, but rather writing about the way his own limited experience and perspective of the band’s place can lift the veils of false narratives, and uncover “piles of winding stories” through time. Throughout the record, great forces–whether exploitative or liberatory, reconciliatory or confrontational, grand or humble, condemning or merciful–show up in the smallest, most personal moments of our lives and relationships, both public and private. Little by little, we are drawn into a long arc of freedom, justice, and beloved community, and into a celebration of and thanksgiving for those who do its work.
Today, Lee + The Glory Fires have released the epic-in-scope, nearly eight minute long album coda: "God's A-Working, Man." Bains had this to say about the track, which oscillates between Exile-era Stones guitar swagger and somber Southeastern-style Jason Isbell confessionals:
"In the last couple of years, like a lot of folks I know, I’ve gone through periods of bewilderment and despair about the state of the world, between racist police violence and carceralism, economic austerity and exploitation, gender and sexuality policing, rampant imperialism, the alienation of technology, the ravages of the pandemic. What’s apparent is that the world and its systems can be brutal, isolating, cold, hateful. Folks I look to have suggested I try and look around here in my place, and to look around through time, and look for the ways in which another type of spirit moves through creation. All around is evidence of a liberatory, healing, equalizing, loving, collective, accepting, faithful spirit working through people and places. Those movements unfold through and over generations and decades and centuries. They touch each and every human life. I never fully know where they’re at or where they’re going. But I get glimpses. People working together with that spirit to take care of each other and, in so doing, themselves—to create something on earth as it is in heaven."
Lee Bains + The Gloryfires are on an extensive US tour, including several appearances at SXSW, this spring. Catch them in a town near you.
Wed 3/9 - Oxford, MS - Proud Larry’s
Thu 3/10 - Memphis, TN - DKDC
Fri 3/11 - Little Rock, AR - White Water Tavern
Sat 3/12 - Tulsa, OK - Whittier Bar
Sun 3/13 - Denton, TX - Dan’s Silverleaf
Wed 3/16 - Austin, TX - SXSW - Sidebar @ 5:20 p.m.
Thu 3/17 - Austin, TX - SXSW - Sidebar @ 4:15 p.m.
Thu 3/17 - Austin, TX - SXSW - The Creek and the Cave (Official SXSW) - 12:00 midnight
Fri 3/18 - Austin, TX - SXSW - Breakaway Records @ 1:00 p.m.
Fri 3/18 - Austin, TX - SXSW Sidebar @ 4:00 p.m.
Sat 3/19 - Austin, TX - SXSW - Sidebar @ 1:30 p.m.
Sat 3/19 - Austin, TX - SXSW - Full Circle Bar @ 4:15 p.m.
Sun 3/20 - Austin, TX - SXSW - Sidebar @ 7:00 p.m.
Tue 3/22 - New Orleans, LA - Gasa Gasa
Wed 3/23 - Hattiesburg, MS - Hattiesburg Community Art Center
Thu 3/24 - Montgomery, AL - The Sanctuary
Fri 3/25 - Mobile, AL - Alabama Music Box
Sat 3/26 - Tuscaloosa, AL - Druid City Brewing Co.
Thu 4/21 - Greenville, SC - Radio Room
Fri 4/22 - Raleigh, NC - Wicked Witch
Sat 4/23 - Washington, DC - Quarry House
Sun 4/24 - Philadelphia, PA - Johnny and Brenda’s
Tue 4/26 - New York, NY - TV Eye
Wed 4/27 - Morgantown, WV - 123 Pleasant St.
Thu 4/28 - Whitesburg, KY - Appalshop
Fri 4/29 - Greensboro, NC - Flat Iron
Old-Time Folks Tracklist:
1. Old-Time Folks (Invocation)
2. Lizard People
3. The Battle Of Atlanta
4. (In Remembrance Of The) 40-Hour Week
10. Done Playing Dead
11. Old Friends
12. God's A-Workin', Man
13. Old-Time Folks (Benediction)