JD Mackinder hasn’t been getting a lot of sleep lately, but for good reason.
Serving as bassist and booking agent for Nashville-based Deadstring Brothers, a nearly decade-long musical project spearheaded by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Kurtis Marschke, Mackinder hit the road with Marschke for the month of August. They then did an eight-gig run in Europe prior to heading back to the states to record the Deadstring Brothers’ fifth album.
“When it comes down to it, part of the reason that me and Kurtis decided to do this together is because we know what we want, and that is to play all the time, constantly,” Mackinder said. “That’s the only way we’re going to make any headway.”
After recording this month, the Deadstring Brothers will continue to make headway with another tour running through early November, which includes a stop at The Village Idiot in Maumee on Sept. 27. A Chelsea, Mich., native, Mackinder has been performing in the Toledo area with various musical projects since the mid-’90s.
“It was 45 minutes away from where I grew up, so I was always happy to hop down there if there was a decent show going on,” Mackinder said. “When I was a kid and just starting to play shows and still in school, you felt like you were going on tour because you were leaving the state.”
Formerly of the band Whitey Morgan and the 78’s, Mackinder has known fellow Michigan native Marschke for many years. The pair worked hard to form a honky-tonk music scene in the Detroit area, where Mackinder has helped bring in more than 90 bands to perform at the Honky Tonk Throwdown music festival over the past three years.
Since 2003, the Deadstring Brothers has released four albums, the latest being 2010’s “Sao Paulo.” Marschke, the band’s founding member, relocated to Nashville, Tenn., and has been operating as the solo act “Deadstring Brother” for the past two years. When Mackinder recently became available, the two decided to pair up again.
“It’s hard when you’re out there playing a bunch of shows and everybody’s trying to have lives, too,” Mackinder said of the Deadstring Brothers’ different members over the years. “It’s not the easiest thing in the world to keep a group of five or six people on the road together and doing all that stuff.
“It’s not to say that you weed people out, but people just kind of find that they don’t want to do that with their whole lives.”
Over the years, the Deadstring Brothers has played with the likes of Shooter Jennings, My Morning Jacket and Drive-By Truckers. With a fusion of rock ’n’ roll, country, blues, soul and gospel in its sound, Mackinder said the band’s musical elements are a perfect middleground for him after years of loud rock and honky-tonk country.
“Very much brothers with the same attitude,” Mackinder said of the musical chemistry between he and Marschke. “We’re real focused on making the best songs we can, and this is a different-sounding record than previous Deadstring Brothers records.
“It’s got a little bit of a [Led] Zeppelin influence. It’s got a little bit of a Pink Floyd influence. And then it’s got Kurt’s songwriting style where automatically people are going to be reminded of the Stones.”
Recorded in Nashville, the forthcoming fifth album from the Deadstring Brothers also features contributions from Brad Pemberton (Ryan Adams & The Cardinals) on drums, Mike Webb (Bobby Keys, Poco) on organ and mandolin, Chark Kinsolving (Bobby Keys, Spoonful) on lead guitar and Pete Finney (Trace Adkins, Vince Gill) on pedal steel and dobro.
“We brought out some heavy hitters to join us on the record,” Mackinder said. “It’s been great.”
Mackinder said that they hope to have the new record out in early 2013 and plan to do 250 shows with the Deadstring Brothers next year as well.
“This is a completely analog recording, which is nice,” Mackinder said of the new material. “I did that the whole early part of my career, and this is the first time I’ve had a chance to do that since 2006. I love the sound.”
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