Photo by Lynne Krohn
Following in the footsteps of Nick Cave, Bob Dylan, Lloyd Price, and Mississippi John Hurt, the Philadelphia-based blues-rock trio Penrose has taken a stab at setting the most famous bar fight of all time to music. Easily the standout on its 2010 debut Devil’s Grip, “Suite For Stack” tells the legend of Stack O’Lee, a slice of American folklore favored by blues musicians, hippies, and punks alike. The Penrose version is a 10-minute, three-movement opus that delivers the story from different points of view before honing in on Stack’s first person account in the brutal coda. The band dropped this song early on in their recent Key Studio Session—an ambitious move, considering the number it’s got to do on singer-guitarist Dan Murphy’s voice, which reaches a gnarly Cobain-esque howl by the end. His brothers Tom on drums and Pat on bass match him in an energy and intensity that carried over to Penrose’s other songs, the live staples “Fly” and “Crooked Teeth,” the brand new track “Underground.”
Download the session below, and tune in tomorrow at 10 p.m. when it airs on the XPN2 Philly Local Second Shift. You’ll hear a bonus track (their cover of “I Got Mine” by The Black Keys), along with our interview about piecing together the suite and evolving as a band of brothers. You’ll also get the scoop on the No Excuses summer showcase they curate at Danger Danger Gallery; the second installment happens this Saturday, July 2, and features XPN2 Local faves The Warhawks, along with El Fuego and Bonethrower. Penrose is sitting this show out, presumably allowing Dan to rest his voice so “Suite For Stack” kills when they play Kungfu Necktie on July 7.
Penrose, The Key Studio Sessions