The Coal PortersView in iTunes
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After the dissolution of the Long Ryders, musician Sid Griffin (who doubles as a music journalist, having penned Gram Parsons: A Music Biography in 1985) formed the Coal Porters in Los Angeles alongside Long Ryders drummer Greg Sowders and English bassist Ian Thomson. The group, which quickly relocated to England, debuted with Rebels Without Applause (originally an Australian 12" EP), followed in 1994 by the full-length effort Land of Hope and Crosby. The album featured such guests as ex-Green on Red organist Chris Cacavas and ex-Rockpile member Billy Bremner. Griffin continued to use a revolving cast of musicians on the band's follow-up, Los London. The Gram Parsons Tribute Concert, a live recording taken from a London gig at the Garage in September 1998, would prove to be the Coal Porters' last electric effort before Griffin took the group in an acoustic direction. (Griffin was producing Here Comes the Neighbourhood by Lindisfarne when he found himself inspired by that group's acoustic sound.) Subsequently, the Coal Porters re-emerged as an acoustic bluegrass project, with Griffin on mandolin, Pat McGarvey on banjo, Neil Robert Herd on guitar, Alan Bisset on bass, and Ivor Ottley on fiddle. In 2001, that version of the Coal Porters released the all-acoustic bluegrass album The Chris Hillman Tribute Concerts, which explored the career of the ex-Byrds and Flying Burrito Brothers member. This acoustic incarnation of Coal Porters made its studio debut in 2004 with How Dark This Earth Will Shine, followed in 2008 by Turn the Water On, Boy!, the latter of which continued Griffin's exploration of his own bluegrass roots. ~ Erik Hage