BELLOWS FAOOS -- The Cold River Ranters are not the easiest band in the world to describe. The band calls their music "Hot Gonzo Primitive Folk Jive."
Flying Under Radar’s Charlie Hunter likens it to "a cross between the Holy Modal Rounders, The Asylum Street Spankers and Jonathan Richman if he lived in Acworth."
The Cold River Ranters will be returning to Bellows Falls in a joint appearance with The Milk House Heaters on Thursday at 8 p.m., at the Windham Ballroom behind Popolo, on The Square.
The Cold River Ranters combine an American-rootsy feel with dashes of third world seasonings. The melodies reflect various cultural traditions -- Appalachian, Irish, Celtic Brittany, African, even South Asian -- but the band’s original lyrics are one-of-a-kind. Skillet Walker of Lempster, N.H., powers the Ranters on steel resonator guitar and vocals, with Tom Jawbone of Keene, N.H., and Acworth, N.H., on banjo, flute, bagpipes, penny whistle, bones, jug, jaw harp and vocals, Nattie Carroll of Keene and Acworth on accordion and washboard, and Marek Bennett making deep thumping basslines using a 35-gallon steel drum with a banjo head and strings coming out of it.
The Milk House Heaters are husband and wife duo Mike and Jan Sheehy, refugees from the Boston punk and new-wave scene who now make their home in Saxtons River. Their heartfelt Americana stylings are buttressed by vocal harmonies in the Gram Parsons/Emmylou Harris tradition, and their knack for catchy songwriting is on fine display on their debut disc, "Farmhands and Factory Girls," released in June.
Advance tickets are $12 in advance, $14 on the day of show or $20 best-in-house, available at Popolo or on their website.