The Eugene-based Breakers Yard band says it best on the back of its latest release, Raise Some Bacon: “Legend has it Breakers Yard formed when both [band members] Greazy and Hot Coppa were simultaneously visited in a dream by the ghost of Cab Calloway.” Then there’s their ReverbNation bio: “We all play lots of instruments, so you never know what you’re going to get when it comes to instruments with strings, and suitcases.”
Now, like you, I’m not sure what a suitcase sounds like, but Raise Some Bacon definitely evokes restlessness and wanderlust — a razzmatazz era when musicians carted their acoustic instruments from one whistle stop to the next, traveling by train, whether they hopped it or bought a ticket. The album is almost entirely covers like “The Gallis Pole” by Leadbelly. “We all love traditional music,” says Breakers Yard guitarist and fiddle player Brandon Olszewski. “We put an album on and make dinner and become infatuated with the tune.” He explains songs with funny or creepy lyrics, or songs that subvert the predictable paradigms of traditional music, particularly appeal to the band.
But the album isn’t merely a nostalgic exercise in early 20th-century music revivalism. “Our banjo player recorded the record in a sound-proofed shed,” Olszewski says. A lot of bands playing this style intentionally layer their sound with the hiss and crackle of recording technology from the era. Raise Some Bacon’s production is crisp and clean, the playing proficient, rooting the sound in the now, the digital picture of a Dorothea Lange photograph.
There’s a little bit of an irreverent 1960s insurgency to the music as well, recalling Jim Kweskin’s Jug Band or Country Joe and the Fish: acoustic music played by people who grew up on rock ‘n’ roll — after all, you have to have a dark sense of humor to sing 1928’s “She Stabbed Me With An Ice Pick” by legendary Memphis musician Will Shade. So come Nov. 21, throw caution to the wind and follow the sizzling sounds of bacon.
Breakers Yard plays with Steep Ravine for the Raise Some Bacon CD release party 9 pm Thursday, Nov. 21, at Sam Bond’s; $3-$5.