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Split Lip Rayfield's Rundstrom dies

Thursday, February 22, 2007 – Kirk Rundstrom, the singer/songwriter/guitarist for Split Lip Rayfield and Scroat Belly, passed away Thursday after a lengthy and heroic battle against cancer.

A statement from the 38-year-old Kansas native's label, Bloodshot, said, "Kirk was, without debate, one of the most dynamic and passionate performers we have ever seen. To see him on stage was to see a man totally focused on, totally POSSESSED with, the music of the moment. He never ever took his audience for granted and delivered the goods with a ferocious energy that flowed through the room. I had personally seen him play some 75 times, and it was never boring, it was never phoned in, and it was hard to take my eyes off him. If you left a show of theirs without sweating, without losing yourself in the joyous abandon of music, it wasn't from his lack of trying. Standing still at a Split Lip show just wasn't an option. His gift was the ability to let rock and roll well up from its purest emotional state and give it to the room in all its liberating glory."

"When Kirk was diagnosed last spring, he was given just a few months. It is a testimony to his incredible spirit that he was performing into this month," the statement said. "The fans that came out during this time filled the venues with palpable love. To have played a part in this accumulation of affection, in this tight knit community of Split Lip lovers, over the years is truly a humbling honor. He loved playing and it showed, and the fans loved him back."

The band, which also included Eric Mardis and Jeff Eaton, played revved up bluegrass.

CD reviews for Split Lip Rayfield

I'll Be Around CD review - I'll Be Around
The bluegrass-folk band Split Lip Rayfield has been around for 14 years, and this album - the first since the passing of Kirk Rundstrom in February 2007 - does nothing to dissuade listeners that it's run out of innovativeness or chops. Although the opening toe-tapper Rig Or Cross isn't the sort of Ricky Skaggs barnburner some might want, the group keeps it slow but steady pace on the sweet All The Same and the faster but non-frantic Aces High. With bands such as Canadian group Elliott »»»
Should Have Seen It Coming
It's been six years since their debut, so the novelty aspects of Split Lip Rayfield's composition aren't nearly as novel as they used to be, but they're still wickedly interesting talking points; guitarist Kirk Rundstrom doing double duty in alt.-country screamers Scroatbelly as well as SLR, mandolinist Wayne Gottstine's blazing speed, banjoist Eric Mardis' other job as a death metal guitarist and Jeff Eaton's legendary gas tank basses, strung with a single weedwhacker cord. »»»
Never Make It Home
What if Hank Williams had become a part of Andy Warhol's Factory? That bizarre supposition doesn't begin to approach the reality of Split Lip Rayfield, one of Bloodshot's most original and creative bands. The Kansas quartet is hillbilly right down to its stocking feet, but filters its bluegrass affectations through the purest rock love, and it doesn't aim to screw up its fascinating formula on its third album. SLR plays within an amazingly pure bluegrass context, but undercoats everything with »»»
Editorial: Walking the talk – When names like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon and the Hag are invoked, you're talking hard core country. These are the touchstones of country , the guys who made country music what it was and still is (or maybe can be). When these folks would sing about being down-and-out and the rough-and-tumble, they knew of what they were singing about. Fast forward a few years to the country singers of today. »»»
Concert Review: Kristofferson gives insight, but no easy answers – When they say music gets better with age, they're not always just talking about songs alone; sometimes they're also referring to the listener. When Kris Kristofferson sings, "Well, I woke up Sunday morning/With no way to hold my head that didn't hurt," to smartly open "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down," he... »»»
Concert Review: No sugarcoating, Welch dishes out an experience – Gillian Welch (accompanied, as always, by master guitarist David Rawlings), celebrated her "The Harrow & The Harvest" album with a powerful night of music. She apologized many times for the utter unhappiness expressed through this album's songs, admitting it's "not the most chipper album" at one point.... »»»
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