Singer and guitarist Aaron McDonnell was born and raised in Oregon’s rural Willamette Valley to a mill-working father and a God-fearing mother. He bought his first guitar, a knock-off Telecaster, when he was 15 years old and proceeded to learn everything from Garth Brooks to Nirvana. But it was the sound of the older generation that captured his imagination; George Jones, Johnny Cash, and Conway Twitty songs drifting from the radios and turntables of his grandmothers’ kitchens and living rooms. This heritage is alive and well in McDonnell’s earnest and straightforward songs and strong, clear baritone.
Aaron is accompanied by drummer Nate Butler, bassist Matt Arduini, and keyboardist Sam Allen. The group has been working together in various projects since the fall of 2010. As a rhythm section, Butler and Arduini prefer driving and straightforward grooves to more complex forms, blending equal parts blues, rock, and soul. Their raw energy and synergism propels live performances with verve and authority. Allen’s tasteful and supportive piano and organ work gently and dynamically laces its way through the mix, adding weight when needed and texture throughout.
The Gospel Plow’s songs explore age-old themes of love, heartache, failure, and faith. They are classic in their influence and unpretentious in their delivery. The band sounds exactly like what they are- a group of close friends who share a deep appreciation of American music playing meaningful songs. At once familiar and fresh, Aaron McDonnell and the Gospel Plow are both an authentic homage to the sounds of the past, and an exciting example of what is to come.