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The Dead Tongues Combine Old-Time Influences With Modern Grit In 'Montana'

An image of musician Ryan Gustafson
Josh Coyle
The Dead Tongues new album 'Montana' is out March 4

For Asheville musician Ryan Gustafson, The Dead Tonguesis a "musical and writing practice." That can mean bringing a group of kindred souls with him to perform on stage, or channeling his folk-rock songs as a solo artist with a handful of stringed instruments. In his new album, Montana, Gustafson polishes The Dead Tongue's mosaic of folk influences.

For years, Gustafson resided in Durham, but now calls Asheville home. He regularly returns to the Triangle to collaborate and perform with friends like Phil Cook and Mandolin Orange's Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz, but said his new home has allowed him to explore his craft with more depth.

"I have a little more isolation out here. I don't know as many people so it's a little fresher so I can be more of a homebody because I don't have as much to do," Gustafson said.

Asheville is also a place for Gustafson to cultivate his admiration for nature. He said this is transferred in his songwriting, which can be heard in songs like "Graveyard Fields" about the Pisgah National Forest near Asheville and an area called Black Balsam Knob.

Here's the sylvan music video for the song "Stained Glass Eyes."

"Escaping for me usually means going out in the woods or getting to the beach," he said. "Most of my cynicism in songs will be taken from our culture, but most of when I see something that's beautiful or pure that will be taken from nature."

The Dead Tongues perform an album release show at Cat's Cradle in Carrboro Friday, March 4 at 9:00 p.m.

Rebecca Martinez produces podcasts at WUNC. She’s been at the station since 2013, when she produced Morning Edition and reported for newscasts and radio features. Rebecca also serves on WUNC’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accountability (IDEA) Committee.
Eric Hodge hosts WUNC’s broadcast of Morning Edition, and files reports for the North Carolina news segments of the broadcast. He started at the station in 2004 doing fill-in work on weekends and All Things Considered.
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