“American Ghosts” is the second full-length CD from Portland band Dark Hollow Bottling Company. A dozen songs painted with Americana, bluegrass, rockabilly, folk and rock adorn the album, which was released in June.

GO recently had a chat with guitarist, mandolin player and vocalist Greg Klein. The other members of DHBC are Corey Ramsey on banjo, guitars, bass and vocals; Riley Schyrock on fiddle, squeezebox, washboard, chains and vocals; Jim White on guitars, dobra, lap steel, chains and vocals; and Nick Scala on bass, drums, guitar, percussion and vocals. Like the band on Facebook or visit darkhollowbottlingcompany.com.

What’s the band history?

I married Corey’s sister 12 years ago and shortly thereafter moved to Maine. Mr. Ramsey and I have been playing together that whole time with Riley Schyrock, and have been going by the name Dark Hollow Bottling Company ever since Jim White joined the band about five years ago. Nick Scala has been playing with us for just over two years.

What inspires your songwriting?

Songwriting is my outlet. Some people go for a run or head out for a night on the town; I like to sit down with my guitar. The inspiration for the content of the song can be anything that moves me; for instance, on the new album, I wrote songs about the first time my daughter spent the night away from home, and how my relationship with my father changed after I became a father.

I also enjoy the exercise of telling a story, so sometimes I sit down with a story in mind, but some of my favorite songs I’ve written are pure stream of consciousness. I’ll look back at the song an hour later and find out what was really on my mind. 

Tell us about one of your favorite songs on the CD.

That’s like asking me to pick a favorite child! “Sold” is a song that I really worked hard at trying to make it work in different ways. In the literal sense, each verse talks about different types of yard sales and how I find them all to be a little bit too much like going into a stranger’s closet.

But really, those stories are just the medium for my personal story, which in this case was contemplating selling a guitar so I could make ends meet. In hindsight, this song drove me to use the guitar to make the money I needed instead of giving in to the quick fix. The whole “teach a man to fish” thing. 

It says in the liner notes that along with the bass, drums, guitar and percussion that Nick Scala plays “hair spray.” Inside joke?

We don’t have a drummer in the band, but we felt that in making this album we would give the songs whatever they needed. So on about half of the album, Nick plays some sort of percussion.

The song “Wingtip Nightmare” is the comic relief of the album. The song is a story about a man whose greatest ambition in life is to use the toilet that Elvis died on. On this tune, Nick played a drum set made of a cardboard box, a hardshell microphone case, kettle drums and yes, a can of hair spray. I like to crank this song in my car and play “air hair spray.”

How’s the local music scene treating you these days?

What an amazing music scene Portland has. I feel so fortunate to play a small part in it. Every night of the week you can go out and hear amazingly talented musicians doing their thing. We really exist on the outskirts, but every year it gets a little easier to book shows. The kind words and support that we have received for this new album has really been amazing.

Give people an incentive to come see DHBC play live. What are your shows like?

We really are a live band. We play in the traditional style around one mic, which means that we constantly have to step forward and back depending on how loud we need to be in different parts of a song. Everybody sings, everybody plays at least two instruments, and we leave everything we have out there every time we play. In addition to our own music, we love to play traditional standards and bizarre covers, and we play them our way. When was the last time you heard a string band play Rancid or Against Me?

Staff Writer Aimsel Ponti can be contacted at 791-6455 or at:

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