The Frederico Brothers are an accomplished folk act in which the star of the show is the song. Good songwriting is rare these days, and Bruce Carlson and Paul Kelley are two of the finest songwriters in this part of the world. Both are 30 year veterans of various folk/country/roots/Texas/Montana music scenes, honing their craft on stages from Austin to Minneapolis to Glendive to Seattle to Missoula. This band finds them teamed with Phil Hamilton and Peter Walther, both longtime stalwarts of the Missoula music community, and full time road musicians in a former life. All four are settled in Missoula, have jobs and families, and approach music for the creative joy of it. They are proud to present their first CD, 'Rails.' The Frederico Brothers are: Bruce Carlson- vocals guitar Phil Hamilton- harmonicas Paul Kelley- vocals, bass Peter Walther- vocals, electric guitar Reviews: Missoula Independent 4/1/04 I've always had a soft spot for songs with too many or just too unwieldy lyrics to fit comfortably. On the other hand, I also admire lyricists who can smuggle shaggy-dog stories and topical concerns into their songs while retaining a certain laconic quality, and traditional-sounding groups like the Frederico Brothers that can update musical morality tales and Appalachian gothic for downtown and suburbia without turning the whole thing into a dog's breakfast of vintage sounds and lyrics. Rails is a treat for people who wish that country music hadn't turned into a handsome boy modeling school, and that the Squirrel Nut Zippers hadn't made '20s popular music quite so accessible a few years back. It doesn't owe an oppressive debt to any style, really, but a good half of it sounds removed from the current century. It's chock full of sweet harmonies, ballads of lost love and runaway trains, and some top-notch but laid-back playing. Paul Kelley, Bruce Carlson and Phil Hamilton have been playing together since the early '70s (Peter Walther fell in with them in 1994), and it shows. It takes old friends to write new songs that sound as lived-in as these. (Andy Smetanka) Daily Missoulian 4/1/04 None of the members of the Frederico Brothers is named Frederico. Nor are they blood kin. But judging from the local acoustic group's debut CD- the Frederico Brothers share plenty of musical kinship. The CD, titled 'Rails,' offers a breezy, upbeat jaunt through 14 songs- 11 of them originals penned by Kelley and Carlson; the rest covers of modern folk classics. The group may describe itself as a folk outfit; but the Frederico Brothers are clearly more enamored of blues and old-time country than the straight-ahead, earnest acoustic music that typifies much contemporary folk. Along the way, they pull off a rousing a capella foot-stomper (as in the intro to 'Harmonica Boat'), growl out some fine country blues ('Sirens'), and waltz through a Tex-Mex take on Delbert McClinton's 'When Rita Leaves.' Their 'live in the studio' take on Richard Thompson's classic '1952 Vincent Black Lightning' is particularly indicative of the band's personality. Compared to Thompson's version of the song- or my own favorite version, a take recorded by the Del McCoury Band- the Frederico Brothers apply a considerably lighter touch. They cruise through the song as if it is simply about riding a fine motorbike, largely glossing over the central tragedy of the lyric. That's the approach throughout the record, which isn't such a bad thing. There's plenty of space in this world for unabashedly care-free acoustic music. Joe Nickell The Missoulian, Saturday, June 18, 2005- These are excerps from a review of a Nanci Griffith concert, which the Frederico Brothers opened: ...Prior to hitting the stage at the University Theatre, Griffith rented out the old Crystal Theatre to throw a graduation party for her goddaughter, Julia Carlson, who graduated from Sentinel High School earlier this month. Julia's father, Bruce, has been friends with Griffith for more than 30 years. They met in Austin, Texas, in 1974, when both were trying to break into the music scene there. Bruce Carlson is a member of a local band, the Frederico Brothers, which opened for Griffith on Thursday night, and Griffith was on stage before anyone expected her, to sing a duet with Carlson, Hoyt Axton's 'I Dream of Highways.' The Frederico Brothers - and harmonica player Phil Hamilton - got the audience into foot-stomping mode with 'Harmonica Boat,' then Griffith and the Blue Moon Orchestra took over... ... that's how the three-hour concert wrapped up, the stage filled with Griffith, the Blue Moon Orchestra, (Nina) Gerber and the Frederico Brothers for 'No Expectations,' whichserved as the encore and gave everyone on stage a final turn in the spotlight and had folks dancing in the aisles... Vince Devlin- The Missoulian.
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