The Carpenter Ants

This afternoon I was looking at the website of the Acoustic Coffeehouse in Johnson City, Tennessee, a venue that the Possum Playboys will be playing next month. Specifically, I wanted a look at the room where performances are held. Chris and I actually played there once, many years ago; at the time (and maybe even now) they had a perpetual open mike policy, where anyone was welcome to play if there wasn’t already a scheduled event. We wandered in a couple of times around three in the afternoon and played for an hour, to a mostly empty room. Later we were part of a weekly old-time jam session held there that ran for a few months.

What I remember about the room was that it is small, a concern for a band that has four or five members and carries lots and lots of instruments. And I was hoping I could see if anything had changed in five years, without having to travel there in person. So I was glad to find that the owners have shot many, many videos of groups performing there, which they’ve posted to YouTube. I looked at the embedded pictures on the home page, and found one of a group with five members, so I gave that a viewing.

It didn’t actually give me much idea of how the Possum Playboys would manage the space. But these guys were hot! Turns out it was the Carpenter Ants, a foursome (the fifth guy was a guest fiddler) from West Virginia that has been playing for about twenty years, in a configuration Chris and I are very interested in right now—electric guitar, bass, and sparse drum kit. The drummer usually plays a kit with a bass drum, hi hat, and snare, but that night at the Acoustic Coffeehouse he was playing only a snare (no doubt because of the tight quarters), and so their performance is a good example of how the simplest of drum setups (and drumming) can really drive a group in certain ways.

Here’s my favorite video, a gospel song called “I John saw”. Below I’ve placed links to two other good ones, “Picnic With the Lord” and “Pray On My Child.” The sound is OK, but the image is fantastic—must have been filmed in high resolution—and I recommend viewing these videos in full screen mode if you can.

Picnic With the Lord

Pray On My Child


One thought on “The Carpenter Ants

  1. Alright! I moved to rural MO a few years ago and the one thing I just can’t find around here is a place like that Acoustic Coffeehouse. Looks like they have good beer in addition to the coffee……next time we move……….


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