Carpenter Ants coming to Purple Fiddle

The Carpenter Ants, West Virginia’s ambassadors of chicken-fried gospel/soul for nearly three decades, are teaming up with Atlanta-based gospel powerhouse Rev RL Bush for four shows this week, including at 7 p.m. Friday at the Purple Fiddle in Thomas.

The pairing takes the Carpenter Ants’ usual fare – old-style, feel-good R&B and old school gospel/soul – and adds the powerful presence of award-winning singer Bush.

The result is a stirring and incendiary vibe that effectively blends Sunday morning with Saturday night.

The Ants and Rev Bush first joined forces at last year’s West Virginia Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony during which the Swan Silvertones were inducted. When the Rev Bush – the grandson of one of the Swans’ original lead singers – was asked to lead the group’s musical segment, the Carpenter Ants were the natural backing band.

“The Swans are one of the 20th Century’s greatest gospel quartets,” said Ants lead guitarist Michael Lipton. “We were already performing a number of the group’s songs so we were thrilled to back Rev Bush. Still, we were amazed at how easily and naturally it all fit together. Rev Bush has a serious pedigree – not only from his grandfather – but from what he’s done in his career. But more importantly, his performances are riveting and run straight to your soul.”

“It’s an awesome situation,” added Bush. “We have a special comradery. We all come from different ethnic backgrounds, and when it comes together it’s phenomenal. As they say, ‘What comes from the heart reaches the heart.’ It’s a brotherhood.”