Us two and him celebrate fifth CD

Friday, January 14, 2011

Us two and him, the musical trio with Chapel Hill roots and a sense of humor, has gone and done it again.

With two-thirds of the musicians living in Lewisburg, and 'nother in Tullahoma, they've recorded their fifth CD of original songs.

They said something about it at the Veterans Day supper in the First Cumberland Presbyterian Church Family Life Center between Second and Third Avenues North.

But without a recording contract announcement or a CD release party, the trio's continued notoriety seems to have hit the press first with an announcement in The Tullahoma News' Dec. 22 edition on page 2B.

"As Good As They're Gonna Get" is the title of their new CD, a product of their 38 years of performing here, there and even on Channel 4 in Nashville. The new CD includes a song with lyrics about how excited they were about being invited to the Ralph Emery Show in the 1980s. They were regulars for more than a decade.

Another song's lyrics include the simple declarative sentence: "I just don't look good naked anymore." But the liner notes for the CD don't list song titles, who's the lead singer on that, or other songs, so without seeing them in person, one wouldn't know, assuming they wanted to. Women might have, but apparently not anymore.

The cover of the CD, however, is politically correct.

The group's name has led to some confusion that it's a Gospel group. Spoken aloud, one wouldn't know that; typographically, the trio's name is spelled with lower case letters only. The "him" is not capitalized because otherwise it might be sacrilegious, and they're not.

"We have been questioned about that," guitarist Phil Comstock of Lewisburg explained Wednesday. "In all our advertising, we use lower case."

Comstock plays with the Rickman brothers, Jim and John. Jim lives here. John lives in Tullahoma.

As for how the group was named, Comstock said, "Back when we didn't have a name for the group, an announcer asked who's going to play next [at a show] and Johnny pointed at Jim and then to me and said, 'Us two and him.' and we were introduced that way. And that was it."

"Us two and him" have been compared to the Smothers Brothers and the Kingston Trio. Comstock agrees they might be compared to "Riders in the Sky," a cowboy-dressed group based in the Brentwood-Green Hills area. The South Central Tennessee boys are more like characters in the Andy Griffith Show with a touch of Ray Stevens' lyrical madness, toned down from "The Streak," and the lines, "It's me again, Margaret."

"Us two and him" sing about what happened during "My First Chew," and they report "The Interstate Runs Through My Outhouse."

"We consider ourselves a wholesome group," John Rickman said.

In perfect step with their previous recordings, the new CD continues their tradition of upbeat, toe-tapping tunes with stories of their childhood in Chapel Hill.

"Our childhood was very much like Mayberry," John Rickman said.

Previous albums are named "Outstanding in Their Field" and "No Better, No Worse."

Comstock agrees with his Tullahoman partner who said their self-deprecating humor has made them successful.

"We've always undermined ourselves... It's always worked."

And one might conclude that their relatives are fair game. One of the new cuts is about a letter written "slowly" to mother because she doesn't read fast. Mother won't recognize their house, now, the tune tells: "We've moved."

Then there's news of an uncle who drowned in a vat of sour mash whiskey in Lynchburg where two coworkers dove in to save him, but he fought them off.

"We cremated him," the letter writer says. "It took three days to put the fire out."

"Us two and him" is self-published and has been a hobby that pays for itself.

"A large part of the songs are written by John Rickman," Comstock said. "We're looking for songs that are fun to perform and fun to listen to."

As for their next gig, he says they're "working on being in a concert in late February or early March."

All three of the musicians have been in the real estate business.

They saw that I could do it, so they thought they could, too," Comstock said. "Real estate has afforded us the flexibility to pick."

Comstock and Jim Rickman work for David Jent Realty and Auction in Marshall County. CDs are available at Jent's offices in Lewisburg and Chapel Hill.

Tribune senior staff writer Clint Confehr contributed to this story that contains parts of the article in the Tullahoma News.