Cole Quest and The City Pickers are a group of New York City musicians connected by friendship and a love of bluegrass. Cole Quest, grandson of the folk icon Woody Guthrie, has brought together a collection of eclectic pickers who have gained recognition on the local scene. Performing both Quest's original tunes as well as traditional favorites, The City Pickers bring their special brand of high-spirited talent to the stage, with up-beat, knee slapping energy and a high lonesome sound that'll leave you wanting more.
After recording at NYC's renowned Magic Shop studio and releasing their debut album in 2017, they are now planning to release their first EP, Self [En]Titled, with the help of Grammy®-winning producer Steve Rosenthal and Grammy®-winning engineer, Michael Graves.
Recorded in January of 2020, in person at Brooklyn’s Conveyor Studios by recording engineer Jason Borisoff, mixed during the pandemic by Tom Camuso, and produced by Rosenthal, the 6 track EP, Self [En]Titled, contains witty originals and crucial covers for the modern listener. The core band resembles a slightly modified take on the traditional 5 piece bluegrass band, consisting of dobro (Cole Quest), guitar (Christian Apuzzo), banjo (Mike Mulhollan), harmonica (Matheus Verardino), and bass (Larry Cook). The album also features the likes of the incredibly talented Sam Reider (organ and wurlitzer), Sean Trishka (drums), and Erik Alvar (bass).
Songs like “Ostrich Therapy,” take the perspective of someone attempting to hide from the problems of this world (so 2020), or “The Bitcoin Gambler,” a John Prine style inspired modern take on old gambling songs with modern references to the perils of the cryptocurrency market sewn into every lyric. The EP also includes a Woody Guthrie/Billy Bragg cover, “Way Over Yonder In The Minor Key,” re-envisioned with a more bluegrass ensemble in mind and led by the power house vocals of Christian Apuzzo.
The EP features an original instrumental tune as well, “7-11 / Foggy Mountain Rock,” which incorporates an important homage to the bluegrass legends, Flatt and Scruggs (don’t forget Uncle Josh too), with their tune “Foggy Mountain Rock.”
Things slow down at this point with the track, “My Sweet Little Girl,” as the listener takes a moment to admire the struggles and pain of losing a deeply beloved animal companion. Self [En]Titled ends in a more traditional bluegrass setting with, “If I Still Had You,” all the while maintaining folk music’s familiar heartbreak tones, seeded with harmonies and G-run’s.
As Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show said, “Great dobro playing, world class harmonica. Damn it sure sounds fun with your City Pickers at the microphone." So, let’s have some fun with Self [En]Titled.
Photo Credits: (1),(3) Cole Quest and The City Pickers, (2) Woody Guthrie (unknown/website).