SONG PREMIERE: Leland Sundries Serves Up Fiery Country-Rock Riffs With “Food Court Blues”

From a purely chronological standpoint, Leland Sundries—the musical project led by Brooklyn troubadour Nick Loss-Eaton—is relatively young. But lend an ear to The Apothecary EP, or check out Leland Sundries’ live show, and it is quickly apparent that this music is imbued with qualities that belie its tender years. Loss-Eaton’s plainspoken baritone has a weathered, lived-in quality. His lyrics reflect a keen sensitivity for details and characters that less-seasoned souls might overlook. Leland Sundries’ take on Americana sits comfortably alongside contemporaries like Elvis Perkins, Jay Farrar, and A.A. Bondy, yet is informed by decades of history, too.

For starters, there’s that curious moniker. It emerged during a road trip through the Deep South, when Loss-Eaton made a pilgrimage to Leland, Mississippi, the small town where bluesman Eddie Cusic resides. The octogenarian guitarist, who’d played with numerous R&B stars of his era (most notably Little Milton), was happy to spend the afternoon telling stories and playing music for an enraptured Loss-Eaton and his traveling companions. Having already seen the somewhat antiquated term “sundries” on multiple signs in that pocket of the country, Loss-Eaton fused it with Cusic’s hometown, as an homage to what the elder statesman and his life’s work embodied.

Loss-Eaton was also fortunate to work for a brief time at Smithsonian Folkways, the historic record label that has stewarded the legacies of Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, Alan Lomax, and Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music. Already a serious admirer of gateway artists like Bob Dylan, Dave Van Ronk and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, blues greats such as Charley Patton and Son House, and the rockabilly canon of Sun Records, he traveled further down myriad tributaries of American roots music during his Folkways tenure.

He nurtured a love for the mythology surrounding various icons, and developed an appreciation for how the timbre of a banjo or resonator guitar can call up images from the Dust Bowl and other bygone eras. He found the words and language of these performances equally compelling. “The lyrics of those traditional and pre-WWII songs are often strange and beautiful, and it felt like listening into something familiar, yet from another world.”

Like many great folk songs and traditional tunes, there is an immediacy to the melodies and chord progressions of Leland Sundries’ music that easily ensnares the listener.

Though it’s been a few years since the last Leland Sundries album – 2016’s full-length debut Music For Outcasts – the band is gearing up to release some singles this coming fall. One of those singles is “Food Court Blues”, which we are excited to premiere at Glide today. With oodles of fiery country guitar riffing, the song is a fun and rambling rocker that incorporates rockabilly, chugging country, and Nick Loss-Eaton’s signature wallop of blues harmonica. It also dwells on an area of employment that is completely overlooked, at least and music, and sheds light on the band’s ability to spin the mundane into upbeat rock and roll. 

Nick Loss-Eaton describes the inspiration behind the tune:

“I stole a Telecaster riff from our guitarist Curtis J. Brewer that he’d used to rework a Johnny Cash song and married it with this idea of a guy who has to work at the food court at the mall. ‘Food Court Blues’ basically wrote itself. It’s a funny song, but that narrator really isn’t doing too well.”

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