“"The Gated Community just keeps getting better."”
— Rift Magazine
The Gated Community | Won't You Believe Me
Release Date: November 8, 2019
Radio Focus Tracks: “Stuck in Louisiana” (#1) • “It’s Time to Go Home” (#5) • “Too Late” (#7)
Politically charged folk/country band The Gated Community releases their new album Won’t You Believe Me on November 8, 2019. Recorded in the shadow of the Trump era, the self-described Marxist country/bluegrass novelty band packs its usual political punch with songs like “Too Late” and “I’m Sorry You’re Crazy.” But continuing where their last album Country Hymn left off, this release goes beyond political satire to address real personal loss.
In 2017, their bandmate Johnny Becker died unexpectedly. Recorded in the wake of his passing, Won’t You Believe Me is dedicated to his memory and even includes some musical contributions he made before his passing, including the mandolin part to “Too Late,” which he composed a week before his death. His widow Rosie Harris, a long-term member of the band, is also featured on the album, singing and playing cello. In addition to this tragic loss, band members Sumanth Gopinath and Beth Hartman also lost friends and family to whom they also dedicate the album.
Although the album mostly contains originals, there are two covers on the album, including a raucous stringband version of the Minor Threat song “Filler” and a tribute to Bruce Springsteen on the occasion of his 70th birthday. The band does a sad, lilting interpretation of his iconic anti-war song “Born in the U.S.A.” along with “Born to Lose,” an original song written in response to “Born to Run.”
“There's something meaningful, I think, in a person of color singing the words ‘I was born in the U.S.A.,’” band leader Sumanth Gopinath says. “I was born here, and I want people to know that I and other people of color are just as American as they are.”
“I did not always feel like I fit in,” he says. “I wrote ‘Stuck in Louisiana’ about how I felt moving to Slidell from Chicago as a kid, never feeling like I belonged and desperately wanting to get out.” This theme of belonging permeates the album, telling stories of people losing each other and coming together again with an eye to a world that is more welcoming to all.
Led by Sumanth Gopinath (acoustic guitar, vocals, keyboards), the ever-evolving band includes Cody Johnson (bass), Teresa Gowan (fiddle, accordion), Paul Hatlelid (drums, vocals, guitar), Rosie Harris (vocals, cello), Beth Hartman (vocals, percussion), and Nate Knutson (electric guitar, mandolin). Together with the help of guest musicians Matty Harris (saxophone) and Dav Kemp (percussion), this virtuosic group takes surprising creative turns. Raw yet sophisticated, the music lands somewhere between The Magnetic Fields and Steve Earle. The Gated Community is carving their own musical space where politics, humor, and emotional storytelling all come together in a way that is playful, smart, and refreshingly original.