Review – Down Home Band’s “Black Snake”

Down Home Band

In the city of Nashville, there are hundreds of independent bands and artists working their asses off to make it to the top and land that lucrative label deal that will allow them to do what they love for a living and make money while doing it. Jeff Estes, the frontman, guitarist and chief songwriter of the Down Home Band believes they are “the hardest working, most dedicated band” in the city. The seeds of this band began on an open mic night in Nashville and it’s been a whirlwind ever since for the group. Down Home Band is made up of Estes, Matt Jaggers (lead guitarist/vocalist), Stephen Hopkins (bass/vocals) and Griffin Criste (drummer). They describe the sound of their music as a blending of blues, alt country, folk rock and Americana (they refer to is as “American Rock”). They just released a new single “Black Snake” and I have to say it’s a pretty apt description.

“Black Snake” is a rollicking and rocking song that draws on several genres’ influences. The electric guitars roar throughout, especially in the final three minutes of the song. The arrangement feels very Allman Brothers-esqué, which is a good thing. The opening minute you can definitely hear the Americana/folk rock sound, which sets up the rocking part of the song well. It was wise to bring the sound down then rise back up after the minute mark to really set up the meat of the song. As for the theme of the song, it’s a little hard to find at first. The crux of the song revolves around the main line “they are the shepherd, you are the sheep, I am the wolf.” I’m sure the band has a certain theme in mind here, but I really think it’s open enough that it could be interpreted in multiple ways by the listener. It could be comparing a man, who doesn’t have the best intentions (the wolf) with a woman he’s after (the sheep) with the people convincing her not to go with him (the shepherd). Some may not like such a loose theme, but I think it works here.

The Down Home Band are certainly a talented group and their hard work shows in “Black Snake.” It’s a southern rock type jam that I think many listeners can appreciate and enjoy listening to. The rough edges of the song give it good character and the instrumentation is just flat-out great. Even though I enjoy the rough edges, I think the sound could use just a touch of polish and could be honed in just a little to make it even more appealing. So while I don’t think Down Home Band reaches their full potential on this song, I think they have all the tools to stand out and be a great band. “Black Snake” is definitely worth checking out and I think the band’s “hardest working” moniker is backed up on this single.

Grade: 8/10