‘Picking which child you love the most’: Howlin’ Brothers tasked with assembling setlist from roots-rock catalog

For the CDTFebruary 28, 2014 

The Howlin’ Brothers — from left, Ian Craft, Jared Green and Ben Plasse — will release “Trouble,” their second full-length album, next month. It was produced by Brendon Benson, a member of The Raconteurs.

JOSHUA BLACK WILKINS — Photo provided

  • if you go

    What: The Howlin’ Brothers

    When: 5 p.m. March 2

    Where: Elk Creek Cafe + Aleworks, 100 W. Main St., Millheim

    Info: www.elkcreekcafe.net, 349-8850

When the Howlin’ Brothers perform at the Elk Creek Café + Aleworks this weekend, they’ll have no shortage of material to choose from.

The prolific string band from Nashville, Tenn., has recorded two full-length albums and an EP in the past year and a half. The three-piece ensemble of Ben Plasse (bass, vocals), Ian Craft (fiddle, banjo, vocals) and Jared Green (guitar, harmonica, vocals) released their first album, “Howl,” in early 2013. The “Sun Studio Sessions” EP followed later in the year, and “Trouble” will be released April 15.

Plasse said the band’s set will include material from all of their albums, as well as covers of traditional bluegrass and old-time songs.

“Putting together the setlist is the hardest thing that we do every day — it’s like picking which child you love the most,” Plasse said. “We all write and we all sing, so the material tends to add up pretty quickly.”

Though the Howlin’ Brothers are influenced by acts such as Old Crow Medicine Show and Carolina Chocolate Drops, Plasse said the band differentiates itself by adding soul and blues elements into its music — and even the occasional electric guitar.

“We also try to not limit ourselves to string-band music,” Plasse said. We love all kinds of music and we’re really curious as musicians. ... We try to adapt that to what we do as a trio.”

On “Trouble,” the band recounts some of the places they’ve traveled over the past two years, including New Orleans, California and the Arizona desert.

“The Howlin’ Brothers are somehow able to conjure images of a bygone era and make it believable,” The Raconteurs member and “Trouble” producer Brendan Benson wrote in a recent review. “The listener gets a glimpse into the troubadour lifestyle. ... It’s a journey very much worth the while.”

Plasse said the band plans to keep up that troubadour lifestyle in 2014 by touring Europe and Australia and playing festivals in the U.S. this summer.

“We just want to keep writing and keep playing as much as we can now,” Plasse said. “We’d be doing this regardless of whether we had an album deal or not. ... We just love the music and want to keep pushing it to the next level.”

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