Dark Hollow Bottling Company

dark_hollow_coverDark Hollow Bottling Company
Gone Gone Gone

Click to hear: “Nature Girl

The five-piece roots-country group Dark Hollow Bottling Company is like a jug band without the jug player. Why waste time blowing into the thing when there’s still enough left to swig?

These are front porch, pickin’ ’n’ grinnin’ songs. The musicianship is loose and the approach is casual. Everybody’s singin’, in harmony or otherwise.

Guitarist and banjo-player Corey Ramsey handles lead vocals in an honest, folksy style. The rest of the group’s sound is rounded out with upright bass, more guitars, dobro and mandolin. Riley Shryock brings a fiddle, squeezebox and washboard to the gathering.

The catchiest tune here, “Nature Girl,” came together almost as an afterthought, said guitarist and dobro-player Jim White “Lightning,” and it’s been getting some mainstream radio play. Earlier, more explicit versions never would’ve, but the lyrics have been cleverly shaded to stay on the right side of the FCC: “My gal’s a nature girl, and I’ve got a park pass / I’ll take my shoes off and stroll around in her grass.”

A couple tracks drag, like “Malaga,” which tries to recount the controversial history of the racially integrated Maine island in close to seven minutes. Despite a great lyric (“You wave your arms like a ninja”), “Ninja Rose” is too wordy and clunky to work.

But most of the songs on Gone Gone Gone are appropriately straightforward and short. The two traditional tunes, “Kickin’ My Dog Around” and “Slew Foot,” fit in well with the band’s good-humored originals. Seen live, especially at their monthly gigs at Ruski’s, they’re even more fun.

Pass the jug.

— Chris Busby

Dark Hollow Bottling Company plays the first Sunday of every month at Ruski’s, 212 Danforth St., Portland, at 7 p.m. No cover (21+). For more info and other upcoming gigs, visit darkhollowbottlingcompany.com.