Band of the Week

Detroit band Blanche are composed of Carter Family-lovin´, banjo-plunkin´, pedal steel playin´, country nuts. They´re more purdy than a firefly in the late-August prairie heat. ()

Detroit band Blanche are composed of Carter Family-lovin´, banjo-plunkin´, pedal steel playin´, country nuts. They´re more purdy than a firefly in the late-August prairie heat. ()

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When people talk of Detroit, it is usually about cars, sky-high violence and STD rates, or perhaps Hamtramck. When people talk of music in Detroit, they gush about Motown Records, Eminem, how the city is the birthplace of techno, and more recently, all the garage rock to pop up. But where’s a band like Blanche to fit in?

Blanche is a country-pop quintet. And when they say “country” they don’t mean Toby Keith, Shania Twain, and certainly not “Achy Breaky Heart.” They mean Hank Williams, The Carter Family, a dash of Cash, and a swirl of psychedelic folk for good measure. So, where does Blanche fit in? With all the other innovative and original musicians that Detroit is so famous for, Blanche is truly an original band.

Formed by husband-and-wife team Dan and Tracee Miller, the two switch off on equally-troubled lead vocals. Feeny’s otherworldly pedal steel seems to push the band into a musical Mariana Trench, while Lisa “Jaybird” Jannon’s earthly drumming and Patch Boyle’s homely banjo plucking keeps the band from going off the deep end…most of the time. Keeping true to their country roots, many of Blache’s songs are about heartache and heartbreak, but with a twist. An anxious twist. The kind that knows its dark fate to spend eternity haunted by images of better times. Sometimes Blanche ventures into lighter territory, singing songs of lazy summer afternoons, but we all know the afternoon eventually turns into night.

Jack White, of White Stripes fame, plays a part in this family affair. Having collaborated with Dan in the band Two Star Tabernacle and in his band before that, Goober and the Peas, White contributes one hell of a guitar solo to “Who’s To Say,” even recording a version of his own that’s just as good as the original. White’s nephew, Ben Blackwell, of Dirtbombs fame, puts out Blanche records on his Detroit-based label, Cass Records. If they’re not keeping it in the family, then Blanche is certainly keeping it within city limits.

And why would a band want to come from anywhere else? Detroit is a world-class city with cars, violence, and Motown-and now Blanche. If your personal mantra is “More pedal steel,” then “If We Can’t Trust The Doctors,” the band’s debut album, is certainly worth a listen.