Austin, Texas-based Grammy-nominated bluegrass quartet Wood & Wire (Trevor Smith, Billy Bright, Dom Fisher and Tony Kamel) puts the spotlight on a piece of American history on the spellbinding "Spirit of '94," the latest release from the band's forthcoming album No Matter Where It Goes From Here (out August 28 via Blue Corn Music).
Band member Billy Bright explains the historical significance of the tune, which centers on the 1794 Whiskey Rebellion.
"Written by Geoff Union, of Ragged Union, this song tells the story of the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794 in Western Pennsylvania," Bright tells Wide Open Country. "This original Federal Government, under Pres. George Washington, attempted to tax spirits in the Colonies beginning in 1791. Farmers began to revolt, against taxation without local representation. It all came to a head in 1794, and that is where this song begins. Geoff and I played this song for many years in Two High String Band. It is on THSB's Hot Texas Bluegrass Burrito, and Geoff's Cold As Steel record. Trevor, Tony & Dom played it with Geoff for years at Bluegrass Night at Flipnotics in Austin with the Bluegrass Outfit. When Wood & Wire got booked to play the 'Whiskey Rebellion' fest in Washington, PA a few years ago, we decided to work it up and have been playing it ever since. Interesting sidenote: The Whiskey Rebellion makes a very brief cameo in the hip-hop opera about Alexander Hamilton's life, 'Hamilton' because after all, as the song mentions, 'Hamilton decreed it.'"
Bright says the song was recorded long before their forthcoming album, but the band knew the track belonged on the record.
"We recorded this version, thinking we would make a single out of it, about a year before we started recording No Matter Where It Goes From Here in earnest," Bright continues. "There's mandolin, mandola, two banjos, an electric baritone guitar (double neck with reg 6 string on it too), and an extremely fuzz distorted guitar on this track, additional mandos and guitars played by myself. Banjos by Trevor, of course."
Listen to "Spirit of '94" below.
For more information on Wood & Wire, visit the band's official website.