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You may know Picus Maximus as the large red-topped, ivory-billed woodpecker that became extinct in North America about sixty years ago. You likely have not heard it is making a musical comeback in the form of a 9-piece band out of San Diego, California.

The members of Picus Maximus are, for the most, veteran Samurai musicians from the 70’s. Individually they have all forged prior reputations in the music business and have shared the stage, and/or are credited with performing as back-up musicians with the likes of Johnny Cash, Ricky Skaggs, The Kingston Trio, Ambrosia, Flash Cadillac and the Continental Kids, The Babys, Kris Kristofferson, Rita Coolidge, Marty Robbins, Jerry Reed, Whalon Jennings, Tom Waits, The B52s, Chuck Berry… and a good hundred more.

Their recent collaboration is an all-original, contemporary musical opera-written-for-film. Recorded at Out House Studios in Ramona, CA, and mastered by Alan Sanderson (Rolling Stones; Switchfoot; Death Cab for Cutie… ) the album, The Tragedy of Johnny Patriot, is superbly produced and worth the listen.

ABOUT THE ALBUM: Khristopherson-esque in its approach to lyric and song composition, and underscored by a raw expressive male vocal that can be likened to a weave of Janis Joplin’s bluesy grit and Sam Kinison’s power, the music is glued together with some great guitar gumbo and the thick tonal tar of a Hammond B3. The soundtrack is a sophisticated 16-song rock opera that explores the human condition of an Iraq soldier plunged into a doomed romance. A combination of pop, rock, country and blues… and purely Americana.

WHAT OTHERS HAVE SAID: Southern California Country-Rock at its purest, this album has it all. A heartbreaking tale whose theme is carried throughout the operatic story with many varied musical approaches: soaring lead guitars, bright acoustic rhythyms, incredible violin accents, Hammond B-3 underscores (ala Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde), crisp drumming, crunching overdrive leads and pedal-steel droning, and growling, whisky-soaked, heart-felt lyrics poured out in earnest. A sad story, but an uplifting musical experience, I enjoyed this album very much. Although I hate putting labels on music, unfortunately our culture demands it. This is The Eagles meets Lynyrd Skynyrd, on stage at your favorite Honky Tonk. Cry in your beer, baby. –CDBaby


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