By: David Schultz
As the ostensible frontman for the String Cheese Incident, bluegrass-loving guitarist Bill Nershi is largely responsible for bringing a certain amount of honky tonk to the Colorado based band. As part of Honkytonk Homeslice, one of the many SCI side projects, Nershi teams up with his wife, Jilian Nershi, and Scott Law. Feeding his inner folkie, he leads the group through a number of original selections whose roots stretch back to traditional Americana. While far from the Coen brothers' depiction of the Soggy Bottom Boys singing into "yonder can," Honkytonk Homeslice was recorded in a style mirroring the music's old-timey roots: everyone sat in one room with open mics so that there would be no separation between the voices and the instruments.
More homestyle than honky tonk, Honkytonk Homeslice is simply a fun, old-fashioned set of acoustic style offerings from three singer-songwriters sitting around a proverbial campfire. Rarely rowdy, the three do get bluesy on "Bear Creek Blues" and "School Bells," which features an appearance on bass by Nershi's String Cheese compadre Keith Moseley. The album centers on well-crafted harmonies and acoustic guitar arrangements, most successfully on "Shot In The Blue," but not to the point of submerging the album in excessive strumming; Law's mandolin, Bill Nershi's lap steel and Jilian's pretty, peaceful voice add color and standout on the relatively straightforward tracks. Though lacking the bluegrass or countrified vibe the title seems to promise, Honkytonk Homeslice delivers enough conventional melodies to satisfy the traditionalists and include a few modern wrinkles to please those who expect as much from any Nershi project.