Wild Ponies - "Sally Ann" (audio) (premiere)

by Jonathan Frahm

2 August 2017

Wild Ponies' "Sally Ann" is the rising roots band's rousing familial take on a bluegrass classic.
Photo courtesy of The Press House 

Amongst the many rising roots bands of the decade, Nashville’s Wild Ponies stand out for their callback to simpler times with their blend of old-school country, folk, and Appalachian sounds. Fronted by married couple Doug and Telisha Williams, “Sally Ann”, from their upcoming record Galax, is their rousing familial take on a bluegrass staple.
  
Telisha says on their take of the song:

“There are a lot of interesting stories around ‘Sally Ann’ for us, and why it HAD to be included on this record.  Perry Frye (Doug’s grandfather) used to say, ‘Now, that ought to be the goddamn National Anthem,’ every time he would hear that song played live or on a recording.  It’s as if he was on a one-man mission to make it so.

“There are so many versions of this song, which is true of most Old Time tunes. The way it goes over towards Round Peak would be different than Galax. These songs have traveled from here there and everywhere, been passed down from grandmother to grandson and through some cousins. If you’ve ever played the game telephone, you know that changes happen when things get passed from person to person. We picked the version that felt closest to what we remembered playing with Papa. When we were working on the arrangement of the song to record in the shed, Snake was adamant that we were playing ‘Sail Away Ladies’ and not ‘Sally Ann’. Have you ever met an Adamant Appalachian? He would demonstrate the two songs back to back on Will’s old Gibson. Kyle Dean assured his dad that the version we were playing was a version of the song, and after a little bit of back and forth and back again, Snake was satisfied (or at least accepted) that ‘Sally Ann’ could be done this way.

“We got everybody that was on the property in on this one. All the players (Snake, Kyle Dean, Kilby, Fats, Will, Telisha, and Doug) and invited everyone else (Doug’s mom, dad, and aunt, Snake’s wife (and Kyle Dean’s mom) Phyllis, Kelley, Mandy, Neilson and Audrey) to sing along on the choruses. We filled up the shed, stood around in a big circle and let it rip. I know those voices because I’ve been sharing that space with them building melodies and harmonies for years. The last “Ann” at the end of the song that’s held out a bit longer than the instruments brought tears to my eyes when I first heard it. That sound of voices ringing under that very tin roof is EXACTLY why we made this record.”

Galax releases on August 25 under Gearbox Records.

 

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