“A world class band.”
Woodsongs Old-Time Radio Hour
“Amid a plurality of promising young bluegrass outfits that have emerged in the last few years, the 23 String Band may just be the most exciting. With the release of their second album, the band proves they are not only competent musicians and songwriters, but they also have a knack for finding that perfect cover song. On an album that starts off hot and keeps its foot on the gas until the very last, a rollicking version of John Hartford’s “Long Hot Summer Days” quickly becomes the most memorable track on the album, which also features a Tom Petty cover and an original arrangement of the folk standard, “Cripple Creek.” They are clearly as at home in the studio as they are performing live at bluegrass and folk festivals throughout the country.
As listeners find their way to the 23 String Band, they will no doubt find themselves mentioning them in the same sentence as other likeminded groups: the Punch Brothers, Old Crow Medicine Show and the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Not bad”
“The 23 String Band is the best band to come out of Eastern Kentucky in a long while. Their shows are electrifying, their songwriting is top-notch, and their vocals are as tight as the cork in a jug of moonshine. They're my favorite band from the region.”
“This fuel injected project just made a lasting mark on the West Coast radio scene. Their up front style grabs you and won't let you go until you have listened to the entire project. While listening to [sophomore album] Catch 23, you never know what's coming next. Whether it is the awesome instrumental work, the superb song selection, or the unique singing, it all fits together like a favorite sweater. It was necessary for me to play this project several times in order to get the full impact of this fine work of art. It just overwhelms you. There were many high points to this project, but the two that stand out are the bass break on Long Hot Summer Days, and the unusual arrangement of Cripple Creek. I can't wait to share this with my listeners.”
Backroads Bluegrass, KCBL Radio
“In spite of their acoustic approach, the band brings electric energy to modern songs with traditional bluegrass stylings. A live set from The 23 String Band could easily follow a traditional bluegrass tune with a Beastie Boys cover; the unpredictable nature of the band has earned them a significant following in a short time. And their “original hillbilly music” has earned them the respect of bluegrass fans both modern and traditional. The band released Catch 23 earlier this year. The only surprise here is that they haven’t received wider acclaim. Riding the high energy of youth, this finely tuned musical machine approaches traditional bluegrass with great reverence, but can also kick out the jams and update their sound to the minute. With the rise of Americana music as an over-arching pop form, it’s a matter of time before a band from its ranks breaks out into pop-culture stardom. That band could easily be The 23 String Band, and Catch 23 could be just the vehicle to take them ”
“Within the space of the first three tracks of this album, they do everything a great bluegrass band should do.
They prove themselves capable of writing catchy new material, adeptly covering a time-honoured bluegrass standard, and performing the sort of breakneck instrumental that makes you suspect they have extra fingers. Although the 23 String Band are unlikely to cut much ice with bluegrass purists, this is pure bluegrass music nonetheless. They’re the sort of band who can break the rules only because they already know those rules so well. In this respect, they stand alongside established artists such as Old Crow Medicine Show and the Infamous Stringdusters at the vanguard of forward-thinking string-band music; although they are more technically proficient than the former, less slick than the latter. If they continue to grow musically, they could easily become the next big thing in bluegrass.”
“While The Avett Brothers are selling out theaters nationwide for high-dollar tickets, it would be pretty easy to catch the 23 String Band around the state for less money and just as much fun. Yes, these local boys employ a very similar approach — a thick concoction of bluegrass, Gram Parsons county, cowpunk (particularly on opener “Ramblin’ Around”) and what the band describes as “Original Hillbilly Music,” though the group seems to stay closer to the source material. Their eponymous debut album features mach-three pickin’, ornate fiddle and mandolin arrangements, upright bass and all the elements of traditional, authentic mountain music with a youthful twist. It doesn’t necessarily matter that the 23 String Band, on record, is not the most original alt-country exploration. The group unequivocally wears its excitement on its sleeve for all ten tracks, and each song sounds like a blast to see live, which is all that counts in true bluegrass music.
"The 23 String Band's live show is electrifying. Their performance at the 2010 Master Musicians Festival had the crowd on their feet from the first song to the last. The combination of youthful energy and extraordinary musical ability make for an outstanding performance."
Master Musicians Festival
“How many strings does it take to play bluegrass with a full-on rock ‘n’ roll spirit? The answer is 23, as in the 23 String Band. Riding the rising tide of eclectic, post-bluegrass, acoustic music, the young, Eastern Kentucky-based band has been hitting the festival scene hard — including appearances at RockyGrass, Bristol Rhythm & Roots and the Kentucky Bluegrass Festival — and developing its own way with a good, traditional melody (check the bluesy feel of “Leave Everything”), furious newgrass instrumental jams (“Catch 23″) and clever covers (“Listen to Her Heart,” the Tom Petty classic). File this band next to Chatham County Line and the Old Crow Medicine Show, and you might find yourself reaching for them when you need a solid progressive bluegrass fix.”
KDHX Radio, St Louis
“4 stars (out of 5)
The 23 String Band doesn’t seem to much care about labels and genre constructs. Rather, their focus is on making music that aggressively poke[s] at the very core of bluegrass [while having] as much in common with the sound as it does with popular bluegrass-based acoustiblue bands, the ones that get lumped into the “jam band” category.
None of which would matter if the music didn’t hold up to repeated listening. Fortunately, this Kentucky-based group has produced [a sophomore] album that entertains while it challenges.
Singing with bleeding-throat intensity softened by an awareness of bluegrass precision, Chris Shouse is the most obvious place to start when examining the 23 String Band’s sound. From first listen, T. Martin Stam’s bass and Scott Moore’s fiddle provide a depth of texture that one isn’t accustomed to encountering on acoustic Americana releases. Dave Howard (mandolin) and Curtis Wilson (banjo) more than round-out the band's full-frontal”
The Lonesome Road Review
“Thank you for making our 9th Annual Bluegrass on the Bay so memorable. You guys just made me a hero. Your enthusiasm and expertise were much appreciated. By the way, the song people keep commenting on the most is “Long Hot Summer Days.” Of all the songs you did, that apparently was the standout to the crowd. The jam at the end of the evening [with Town Mountain] was one of the most enjoyable it’s ever been my pleasure to hear. I was absolutely blown away as was the crowd. Much success to you guys!”
Bluegrass on the Bay, Great Falls, Montana
“The 23 String Band was one of the most exciting and original bands to play ROMP 2010. We were pleased but totally unsurprised when they surfaced as one of the most-requested bands to return for ROMP 2011.”
Executive Director, International Bluegrass Music Museum
“This friendly and talented group played energetic, musically intricate bluegrass tunes that made me want to stomp my feet and sing along without knowing the words.”
The Diverse Arts Project
“I really like the style and energy—a revival of sorts, moving the music to the modern era without losing the soul. The no-nonsense production lets the band kick back and do some fine picking. I think that is what’s so fun about [sophomore album] Catch 23. Hope to see you in New England sometime.”
WCNI Radio, New London, Conn.
“The 23 String Band were new to me going into Folk Alliance, but I was thoroughly won over by the end of their fiery set. Opening with a damning song about pollution in eastern Kentucky waterways marked them as a band with a conscious bent, although they can groove with a grin on a lighter number like the swing-inspired “Bees Knees.” I could see them as brothers-in-arms with groups like the Hackensaw Boys. Showing off an impressive range and a charging, commanding presence, I will definitely be checking out more of the 23 String Band.”
Steam Powered Preservation Society
“Kentucky bluegrass. Edgy. And well done.”
“A tantalizing new Americana release from a talented group of musicians, Catch 23 covers a lot of roots territory with a little something for everyone.”
Bluegrass Etc, KCSN Radio, California
"It wasn't that oldies stuff I remember and it didn't have that whiny feel that come of the country music artists have. It was a different sound, as if bluegrass finally evolved. I particularly liked the 23 String Band." (Forecastle Festival review)
Alternative Revolt Magazine
"The 23 String Band tore it up as always and played well into the night, keeping everyone on their feet and truly enjoying this thing we call life."
Red River Gorge Climbers Coalition
“The 23 String Band is an old-time group that offers up a new twist to traditional music. The ten songs on their debut self-titled album are a blending of public domain numbers and such band originals as “Ramblin’ Around,” “East Kentucky Water,” and “Valentines Love Bouquet.” The band’s forte is to take numbers such as “St. James Infirmary,” “Cluck Old Hen,” and “Sleepy Eyed John” and dress them up with fresh new arrangements. The 23 String Band has certainly given old-time music a face lift and this CD should be eagerly sought after by those who are familiar with the band’s extraordinary brand of music.”