Eight of the ten songs on Dread Clampitt’s eponymously-titled debut album were written by guitarist Kyle Ogle and mandolinist Balder Saunders, who both also share lead vocal duties. Their first songwriting collaboration resulted in “Stars (over Walton County),” and they turn some interesting phrases in their moving personal statements, rich in roots sensibility. Rounding out this north Florida band that plays “reggae-bluegrass fusion” are Justin Lewis Price-Rees (fiddle, harmony vocals) and Duke Bardwell (acoustic bass guitar, harmony vocals). The band’s name originated from a combination of Jed Clampett (from the Beverly Hillbillies) and dreadlocks, a hairdo common among certain reggae musicians.
Their contagious acoustic energy is presented without any self-consciousness. Saunders and Price-Rees share much of the spotlight with their proficient instrumental interplay, and their finest work is found at the third track, a song appropriately named “Dread Clampitt” that sets out their musical approach and objectives. “Dread Clampitt in the house, playing a soulful tune, Pickin’ on the back porch, writin’ in the living room, Dread Clampitt, we have a good time, Cause we don’t care if we make a dime. You got to earn to make a living, You make a life by what you give, You may not believe in karma, But you can’t receive unless you give.” More lyrics are at their website. The fiddle and mandolin also shine on Price-Rees’ Dawg-like instrumental, “Walkabout” and the bass and guitar impart a powerful rhythmic intensity.