California Bluegrass Association Newsletter 2010

Whiskey Puppy: Unleashed
Whiskey Puppy is an Oregon-based trio that formed in 2001 and has been entertaining audiences since then with its effervescent blend of old-time, bluegrass and blues music. The band is Rachel Gold on guitar and vocals, Justin Auld on banjo, fiddle, guitar and vocals, and Travis “Tater” Harrison on bass and vocals. The band certainly “unleashes” a bundle of energy and high spirits as they give their own special take on the classic songs of the 1920s – 1950s string bands. The bands of this era focused on the hard times, heartbreak, heartache and prohibition. Some of the songs were open invitations to love and Rachel Gold gives the right amount of sultry invitation to “Come Home Daddy” and adds a high lonesome yodel to Bob Nolan’s “Echoes From the Hills.” Other songs feature Travis and Justin on lead vocals and the trio blend their voices together on Fred Rose’s “Bringing in the Georgia Mail.” The opening cut, “Adam and Eve in the Garden,” has a earthy blend of percussive guitar and twangy banjo as the band intones that Adam and Eve “must have shook that thing.” “Cold Wind” has a flurry of banjo and guitar notes matched by the call-and-response vocals – pure energy.  Whiskey Puppy will have you barking for more of their songs.

Bluegrass Unlimited
(february 2006)

"This latest creation from Whiskey Puppy is somewhat a departure from their previous release in that they have combed the archives of American music and found some intriguing material that time has practically forgotten. There is the added presence of the band's own material including "Charlie Man," "Whiskey In My Britches" and "Nellie." Included among the more traditional fare are Charlie Poole's "Come Take A Trip In My Airship," "Richmond Blues," Uncle Dave Macon's "From Earth To Heaven," and from the realm of old - time black string bands, "Run Molly Run." Rachel Gold's lead vocals impart a unique aura to Whiskey Puppy and they are definitely one of the more prolific old - time bands currently active on the music scene."

Bluegrass Unlimited
(october 2003)

"Make no mistake about it, the music of Whiskey Puppy has a raucous edge that straddles the line between old-time and bluegrass music. The prime objective of this Oregon-based quartet is to preserve roots music, and the lineup of material featured in "Love Storm" certainly illustrates that dedication. The 17 selections come from variable sources, including Uncle Dave Macon ("Hold The Woodpile Down" and "Go Long Mule"), the Stanley Brothers ("Love Me Darling Just Tonight"), Bill Monroe ("The Gold Rush"), and others. Also featured are several pieces from band member Justin Auld, including "More Precious Than Gold" and "Puttin' Down the Cow." While the music of Whiskey Puppy is on the primitive side, it has a certain charm that should appeal to anyone who appreciates old-time music in it’s most rustic form.”

National Traditional Country Music Association, Inc. Tradition Magazine

"I got two neat CDs from this Portland, Oregon old-time string band group. Like many young folks who want to have fun with their music, this group is determined to do just that. It surprises me that they have maintained the sound of the Skillet Lickers, and old timey mountain groups like that, and still have as much fun as the old-timers did in creating the music in the first place. It’s strictly Americana all the way, and absolutely super. The group is made up of Justin Auld (banjo, guitar, vocals). I’m going to guess that Justin is playing claw-hammer banjo, even though Rachel Gold also plays banjo, guitar, and lends her most able voice to the vocals. Josh Cole has the smallest with mandolin and vocals, and poor James Cook has the biggest with washtub bass and vocals. I remember when the Wilders broke onto the scene with their string band sound in Kansas City. We were one of the first festivals they performed at. They went from us to the stage of the Grande Ole Opry, exactly as I asked them to do. I’m going to suggest Whiskey Puppy attempt to do the same. They are on the cutting edge of incredible energy music, so badly needed in today’s corrupt music business world. They sent me their CD in the hopes of being on our July festival in LeMars. The problem with that is we lost over $3,000 on it last year and cancelled it. The only alternative to offer this fine vaudevillian band is a spot at Missouri Valley. It’s your’s Whiskey Puppy if you want it, but you have to get there to claim it.”

National Traditional Country Music Association, Inc. Tradition Magazine

"Look out Skillet Lickers you have some competition. I've reviewed this fine string band before, and have always been impressed with their music, their song construction, and their tight old-timey sound. We have a group in Iowa now that is getting close to this sound called 'Recycled', and I say hip hip hooray. This old timey music is nearly a lost art, but this trio does a wonderful job with it. Rachel Gold plays guitar and does a fine lead vocal; Justin Auld picks a mean old-timey banjo, guitar and adds appropriate vocals; and Travis "Tater" Harrison plays bass (often sounds like a tub to me, how do you do that?), and also sings. They had a little help from friends Greg Clarke on Mandolin, and Sammy Lind on fiddle. If you are ever out in Portland, Oregon be sure to find these folks for a guaranteed good time evening. When they say they do music of an earlier, more innocent time, they are not just purists. They are for real, and you would have a hard time distinguishing between this group, and any of the early 1920's or 30's string bands that were so incredibly popular, but still maintained thier soul, their personality, their independence. That's what Whiskey Puppy is all about...Independence. That's a freedom word folks, one we need heed much more. Do puppies really drink whiskey? I think we've had standing invitation for this group to come to our Mo Valley Festival for three or four years now, but the distance just makes these kind of magic things impossible. Still, it's still there, and I wish them the very best in their musical pursuits, even if you get offered a million dollars to change your style...don't do it. Best yet!

Missoula Independent
(july 2005)

"Just how much fun can three folks have with a banjo, a guitar and an upright bass, and an extensive vocabulary of early Southern Appalachian songs, turn-of-the-century jug band music and a bottle of sour mash? Whiskey Puppy answers that question with the self-released Fate Of Man (Before The Dawn Of Pants). Each musician (Rachel Gold, Justin Auld and Travis Harrison) is proficient on his or her instrument(s), each taking turns at little solo runs. But rather than adding fancy curlicues to the material that they cover, the Portland-based band keeps the album vanity-free and focuses their tremendous energy on, well, sustaining their tremendous energy.
Without sounding contrived, Whiskey Puppy’s handful of originals share the same sensibility as the old stringband tunes they cover, and nestle in comfortably alongside their remakes of tunes by Uncle Dave Macon and Charlie Poole. In the tradition of the Wilders, and supported by guest musicians from the thriving old-time scene in Portland, Whiskey Puppy gets listeners punch-drunk with a high-powered sound—even if it is, according to the story of their name, at the expense of some poor baby dog’s liver."

-Caroline Keys

"Watch the suit, son."

-Del McCoury

"I'm calling the police."

-Dirk Powell

"Do I know you?"

-Tim O'brien

"It's the only thing I listen to in the mini-van!"

-Del McCoury