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Pine StatePine State's Mellow Madness

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Pine State first appeared on local stages sometime in 1994, and by the end of 1995, had produced four singles and attracted some national attention. Not always in tune or in time, sometimes over-intoxicated, but ever intensely reverent and true to the spirit of country music, the band developed an enthusiastic fan base who reveled in the often profane, always anarchic hee-haw thrash and destruction of their live shows. Its early quartet lineup expanded to include eight or more members who--in between the wash and buzz-saw intensity of their originals and covers--trashed, smashed and set fire to so many stages that (legend has it) they were forced to disband after a short four years because no venue would allow them to perform again.

Some may have disagreed about whether the music or the performance was the essence of Pine State, but the music is all that remains, and the remaining music has been expanded tenfold with the release of the collection, Pine State--Pine State's Mellow Madness. Styled as a package of "2 Classic Country LPs," the discs offer an overview of previously unreleased studio work from '95, '96 and '98, as well as several live radio appearances and a live stage performance recorded at the Duke Coffeehouse. All of the band's trademark tunes are here: the plaintive wail of "100th Broken Heart," the twang of "Bird Dog Blues," the honky-tonk gospel of the Louvin Brothers' "Broad Minded." They also pay tribute in their own western wall-of-sound style to such country icons as Johnny Cash, Faron Young and Hank Williams. Woven between these musical moments are excerpts from a fictional radio show, the Hatchetsaw Hayride, produced by the band on WXYC in 1994. Though not equal to the visual experience of the band, these bits offer an aural approximation of the storm and twang insanity that was Pine State onstage.

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