The Border Band is a four-piece group consisting of rhythm guitar, bass, drums and lead guitar. Melvin Litton, yours truly, captains the band, plays rhythm guitar and writes and sings most of the songs. I began performing over a quarter of a century ago in the cold regions of Canada and have since played in the northeast, down through Nashville, Austin, up to Colorado and back to Kansas where I started out and will likely remain. My major influences are Leadbelly, Jimmy Rogers, Bob Dylan and The Band, while the juices of a hundred others flavor my music, not to mention the wind and rain, sun, moon and stars, and the devil himself if that's what it takes to make a song. But I mainly rely on the better angels of my nature to see me through, and two fine men that have been with me for over five years now: Roger Holden and Dave Melody. They've helped forge the sound and are a great part of what makes the music click.
Roger Holden, "The Razor," is a wizard on the lead guitar. Besides his own keen talent, he draws inspiration from Hendrix, Santana, Stevie Ray Vaughn and BB King among others. He's played in a dozen bands covering every idiom from Classic Rock, Punk, Ska, Surf, Tex-Mex, Country, Folk and Blues. Nimble and fast, that's why we call him "The Razor" -- because he plays so fast and clean, he slice it to the bone!
Dave "Youngblood" Melody plays drums, but he does a helluva lot more than keep time and proves in the act why the drums are a musical intrument not to be denied. He can tap out a rhythm soft as a feathered heartbeat or boom like thunder rolling down off the mountains across the plains in a crash of cymbals and toms that can chasm the earth then fade in a patter of raindrops dimpling the dust. Dave's the youngest member of the band, but he's no greenhorn. He's hit the skins for over 20 years, played in metal bands, marching bands and a whole hodge-podge of rock, yet he can make the brushes whisper to a cowboy lament so as to charm a heart tough as old boot leather.
We've had a slew of fine bass players: Vitamin B, Chubby Smith, Johnny Dancer, Doc Nelson, Kid Gribble. For one reason or another none of 'em stuck. Again faced with a hole in our sound, Dave suggested his good friend, Rob Popp (pronounced "Pope"). Problem was, Rob played lead guitar; but Dave said, "We can mold 'im." Well, convincing a leadman to play bass is rather like asking a gunfighter to lay aside his six-gun for a shotgun. But Rob was willin'. He picked up a big black Fender-American-jazz bass and in a few short months he's put his signature on our sound. He's got an innate sense of rhythm and goes deep in a song to find the heart. We call him "The Pope" -- he ain't infallible, but damn solid and the center holds. Plus he looks the part: big, strong, able, and sports a devilish grin. With "The Pope" aboard we aim to ride the Border van and play hither, thither, and yon. (Note: Chubby Smith, our recording engineer, played bass on all of "Rootless Seed.")
That's our band, our music, as far as words can tell. But words merely depict the shadow of a thing; to know the true sense and shape you must experience it yourself. So here it is --"Rootless Seed." Give us a listen and see what you think.
REVIEWS of "Rootless Seed":
1)The Border Band blends blues, rock, and folk with dashes of country and nods to bluegrass and rockabilly on its latest release.... "Whiteline Moonshine" sounds like a great lost Johnny Cash song, and the Border's laid-back rockabilly groove makes for a promising, spitfire start...--The Mag, May 24, 2001
2)Lyrics dark, emotional. Not what you expect. "Rootless Seed" lulls you into a familiar place and then stabs you gently in the heart when you get there. Musicianship is subtly outstanding...--Digital Global Media, June 11, 2001
3)Indie-Music.com--January 13, 2002--by Les Reynolds:
These four guys are not from the border -- The Border as we know it (Texas-Mexico), but their music is every bit as dusty and craggy as the rocks and dirt that line the Rio Grande and points westward. Not that dust and crust are bad things. Think about the steely-eyed glare of Clint Eastwood or the cool and deadpan glint of James Coburn. That kind of dust.
But the tunes can also be varied at times. This CD could be described as a mix of folk, rock, country and blues with no one tune a complete representative of any of those styles --and sometimes the tunes change within themselves (listen to "Bootleggin;' Lady," which goes from blues to rock). But, the Big Question: Does it sound good? You betcha!!
On the opening track, "Whiteline Moonshine," Mel sounds like the Dire Straits' Mark Knopfler gone country and on "Wildflower," the guitar sounds like the Allman Brothers meets the Marshall Tucker Band. Roger is the lead guitarist joined by Melody on drums and bassist Smith. They meld their instruments very well for a haunting, rough-edged, out-in-the-elements kind of sound which is also capable of soaring gentleness from time to time. The tunes range from philosophical to storytelling; from rolling, up-tempo songs to more pensive tunes (but they never bog down).
One theme throughout seems to be what could be called worldly spiritualism -- spiritual references immediately framed by some rather blatant references to things not so spiritual. In the up-tempo opener alone, some examples: "...why do the heathen rage? ...c'mon children now, clap your hands; throw off your burden and start to dance, y'all don't need no more whiskey, wine or gin... in like a lamb and out like a lion... ain't no quicker path to paradise. I'm leavin' the low road, takin' that high road tonight..."
Hard to pin down, maybe, but one thing's for sure -- this band has definitely taken the musical high road.
Check out the artist's website:
1. Whiteline Moonshine
2. Bootleggin' Lady
4. Rootless Seed
5. Ramblin' Man
6. Night Train
7. There Goes The Sun
8. Hittin' Hard Flint
9. Momma's Song
10. Dead Bear In The Barranca
11. El Azteca
12. Mad Dog Blues
13. When I'm Over The Heartache
14. Feel The Fever
15. Jimi's Hymn
16. Life Is Sweet