Bluegrass worthy of being blasted out of the windows of a Plymouth Barracuda with 426 Hemi V8 engine. Metal and jazz like freakouts done acoustically. Arising out of the ashes of Scroat Belly, the Lip's live shows were the stuff of legend. They whipped crowds into a sweaty frenzy--Jeff hunched over his homemade, gas-tank bass "The Stitchgiver," Kirk breaking guitar strings by the dozen and changing them fast enough to ensure himself a place on any NASCAR pit crew, Wayne scorching his fire-proofed mandolin, and Eric, looking the part of a Civil War re-enactor, doing things to a banjo that Eddie Van Halen wishes he'd thought of. Split Lip's playing was fast, manic, insanely complex and utterly unique.
They happily and improbably took the spirit and musical inventiveness of the Stanley Brothers, John Zorn, hell, even Rush, and came up with something definitively SPLIT LIP RAYFIELD. There will never be another band or sound like them. There couldn't be. Like so many ground breaking and insanely original bands before them, it may take the world another 25 years to catch on. Our loss. They almost single-handedly invented "thrashgrass" and countless bands owe them a huge debt for not only defining a sound, but stretching the possibilities of the acoustic music world. Fans of the Flatt & Scruggs AND Metallica could find a common tent to party under.
Because their shows were so good, they never got the credit they deserved for their songwriting--time honored themes of bad cars, bad jobs, bad women, loss and longing, taken off the dusty shelves of the old-timey circuit and updated to make sense for those who don't have shitty farming or mining jobs, but do have shitty jobs at Wal-Mart or Home Depot. They've got four part harmonies and wear their big hearts on their oil-spattered sleeves. They were as adept at writing stunningly honest and heartfelt songs about love lost as they were anthems that would have you beating along with your fist on the dashboard. You will be surprised at how good they are. Dismiss them as gimmicky at your own peril, and foolishness.
Sadly, Kirt Rundstrom, the KS tornado of a performer, guitar player and singer, died of cancer in 2007. The remaining members are carrying on the sound and the fury of the band, though. Get hip to the Lip. As Eric always liked to say: "People should get ready to have their heads ripped off."