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Jimmie Dale Gilmore and the Wronglers play 'Heirloom Music'

Brian T. Atkinson

The Wronglers' excellent new "Heirloom Music" (released Tuesday) effortlessly enlivens 14 popular roots music standards ("Foggy Mountain Top," "Deep Ellum Blues"). The spirited septet from the Bay Area previewed songs last month at Old Settler's Music Festival.

"That was the largest venue that this band had played before," new lead singer Jimmie Dale Gilmore says. "The band is still just getting its feet, and this is all new territory for us. We went into (Old Settler's) wondering how it'd be, but I was very thrilled with it."

American-Statesman: When did you meet (Wronglers banjoist) Warren Hellman?

Jimmie Dale Gilmore: I'm sure you know about the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival that happens every October in San Francisco in Golden Gate Park. This is going to be the 11th year, and I've played every year except the first one. In the course of it, I got to be friends with Warren Hellman, who after a couple years I found out was the guy who was putting on the whole thing.

How did 'Heirloom Music' take shape?

The Wronglers played South by Southwest and Old Settler's last year. While they were in town, we got together a few times for dinner and one night on a total whim, I said, "What do you think about us putting a record together?"

What's in it for you?

I've never played with an old-timey string band. My friends are all great musicians, but they're mostly rock and blues guys. The chance to play some of the old stuff that I love the most with a really authentic band was my motivation.

Explain the album title.

Well, it's not really accurate to call what we're playing "bluegrass." The style actually predates bluegrass. It's more like from the Carter family and old mountain string band musicians. (Wronglers banjoist) Warren (Hellman) heard the term. He went, "Yeah, that's it! That's what kind of music we play: Heirloom music!"

What draws you specifically to 'Deep Ellum Blues'?

I learned that song really early on. In fact, most of the songs on this record are ones I've done for a really, really long time. I was so young the first time I heard "Deep Ellum Blues" I can't even remember. I loved that song before I knew how to play the guitar.

How did you remain true to the originals while putting your own stamp on them?

You know, I think I just do that automatically. I don't approach my singing or arranging with a deliberation. I do it instinctively. I probably unconsciously copy a lot of singers who have influenced me though my life, but never on purpose.

What do you find most compelling about this older music in our digital age?

I'm old enough to have seen the wave come around a few times. When I was learning how to play guitar and starting into discover my own style, it was at the time of the folk music revival in the '60s. This kind of music had sort of faded away just prior to that time. It had become unknown and it got rediscovered.

So many younger musicians are playing roots music now.

I think young people are discovering that the music behind the music they like is itself very enjoyable. You've got the Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons who are creating a new hybrid that incorporates this stuff into a new feeling.

The Internet has played a big part in spreading the word.

It's making just about everything available. When we were younger, you had to be a collector and go find stuff. Now you might be turned on to some strange old recording just by accidentally going across a website or from a friend on Facebook.

Of course, YouTube is a great resource.

I'll say. It's mind-blowing. There's so much on it.