Muddy Ruckus to splatter into Brattleboro

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BRATTLEBORO — The Portland, Maine, duo Muddy Ruckus is bringing their brand of blues and punk here for the first time soon.

"We're really excited to play Brattleboro," said Erika Stahl, drummer and vocalist.

She said bandmate and life partner Ryan Flaherty has been saying for a while they should play here.

The couple is performing at The Stone Church in Brattleboro on Saturday, Jan. 19. The Paper City Picture, described as a folk music project from Western Massachusetts singer/songwriter Lea Chiara with a revolving group of musicians, also will play. The show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased for $8 ahead of time by visiting stonechurchvt.com.

Muddy Ruckus is touring in support of its latest release, "Bellows to Mend," which came out on June 1 and is about not giving up and facing danger. It's full of energy with distorted guitar riffs, vocal harmonies and catchy lyrics.

The album includes a powerful cover of "Along in the Sun and the Rain" by Woodie Guthrie. The title track refers to a term used by a boxer when they were winded and out of breath during a fight. "The River" is a ballad about murder and love inspired by the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. The last track, an instrumental called "Wreck of the Hesperus," is based on a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and is somehow connected to Mighty Mouse.

Muddy Ruckus is influenced by the diverse likes of Fugazi, John Lee Hooker, Django Reinhardt and The Pixies. Stahl and Flaherty, on guitar, share vocal duties and work to complement one another. Their songs have drawn comparisons to The White Stripes, Social Distortion and The Velvet Underground. The duo released their second album "Pretty Bones" in the summer of 2016 as a follow up to their self-titled debut two years earlier.

Their live show is "very energetic" and "pretty upbeat," said Stahl.

"It's mostly rock and roll," she said. "It's a lot of different genres mixed in."

Local violinist Phil Bloch will join Stahl and Flaherty onstage for some songs in Brattleboro.

"He's a good friend of ours," said Stahl.

Muddy Ruckus formed after Flaherty and Bloch had been playing together in a band that broke up. Flaherty and Stahl were dating when Flaherty set out as a solo artist strumming an acoustic guitar, banging one foot on a suitcase kick drum and the other on a tambourine. He then started performing with an upright bass player.

"I was very reluctantly brought up on stage to sing," Stahl recalled. "But I got over my fear of that."

Flaherty soon asked her to join the band and sing full time. The bassist left after the first album was recorded and Stahl got behind the drum kit.

"I'm self taught," she said. "And it was interesting in the beginning."

Flaherty later switched to electric guitar.

"Our sound kept getting bigger and bigger," Stahl said. "Now, we're at a place where we're very happy with the sound."

She said the duo is working on some new songs for a 7-inch vinyl record set to come out in March. The hope is to release some singles within the next few months.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.

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