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They’ve made quite a name for themselves as individual musicians, but now Elam McKnight and Bob Bogdal have teamed up to release Zombie Nation, a debut album that melds the rural Mississippi blues of the Delta with the hard-charging electric style of the Hill Country. “They say the first step in a journey is the most important, and that’s the approach we’re taking with this album,” says McKnight. “As a songwriter, you are constantly creating material. I have all kinds of songs that, before, I might not have felt they fit the direction I was going. But now, their time has come to be heard.”
Both McKnight and Bogdal bring impressive credentials to their partnership. McKnight’s solo debut, 2003’s Braid My Hair, was hailed by critics as a breath of fresh air in the sometimes-stale climate that is predictable “bar band” blues, while his second album, 2005’s The Last Country Store, found a spot on many blues charts internationally and in America. McKnight’s most recent release, 2007’s Supa Good, earned notoriety when the opening track, “Devil Minded Woman,” was voted by fans as the Best Blues Song in the Musician's Atlas sponsored 7th Annual Independent Music Awards. Bogdal, meanwhile, boasts 20 years of Blues expertise and harmonica playing. His haunting 2005 debut, Underneath the Kudzu, serves as a reflection of his personal vision into the mystery of the Delta, and he’s currently recording his next album, Shadow of a Darkened Moon. “It is a joy to have someone who wants to make a go at something as a unit, talk things out, bump heads, come to agreements, and hit it until what you wanted to get accomplished is accomplished,” McKnight says. “We are both driven in that way and I am fortunate to have someone who is not scared of rolling his shirt sleeves up and putting in the sweat equity.”
The more stripped-down sound of Zombie Nation marks a departure of sorts for McKnight, which is just fine by him. “The sounds we have on this one are very warm and strong,” he says. “While Supa Good was not totally lo-fi, Zombie Nation is as far from it as you can get sonically.” McKnight and Bogdal hope their hard work and distinctive sound allows them to shed any restrictive labels and therefore introduce their music to a broader audience. “I am a songwriter first and I hope to get my music out there to as many people as possible,” he says. “We are both really proud of this work and look at it as one of many to come.”
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