Sawmill Man

by

comment

Born and raised in the backwoods of Old Sand Mountain, Alabama (in an honest-to-god tarpaper shack), Joseph “Cast” King does not fuck around. See, at age 79, Sawmill Man is King’s debut album. He first hit the stage at 14 with the Alabama Pals and eventually toured the United States with his Country Drifters — even cutting songs for Sam Phillips at Sun Records in the 1950s. Now, a half-century later, Sawmill draws you into King’s reality; you’re there with the elderly gent — watching his gnarled fingers clutch the neck of his guitar, hearing the weight of missed opportunities, sorrow and heartbreak. Part of the songs’ allure is that they were brought to light long after King’s music career sputtered to a halt. Alabama musician Matt Downer taped him after prowling the Sand Mountain area “catching” songs by making field recordings of local musicians, most of whom were well-aged. Downer’s talks with the old pickers invariably produced the name, Cast King. He then found King and this album is the result. Lyrically it’s great — and with peers like Hank Williams, Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family, you can only imagine the music. Spartan, old-time country tunes — written by a man who’s already lived them. We need songs like these.

Robin Johnson writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.