There are lots of mountains in the world but few are older or wiser than the Blue Ridge of Virginia. An hours drive west from the state capital, foothills cradle the small city of Charlottesville where generations of workers, artists and students have built a progressive community steeped in the best traditions of the American South.
The Hackensaw Boys first began playing their joyful blend of old-time tinged music on the streets of Charlottesville in the autumn of 1999. Far from limiting themselves to the old-time canon, however, the Hackensaws have been first and foremost a band of songwriters. Their music, while drawing upon the spirit of the mountains, is sophisticated and informed by the best elements of punk rock and classic country music. As one reviewer put it: Imagine the Carter Family meets the Ramones, and you begin to get the picture.
You see them in the early hours of the morning walking hotel corridors, or boldly traversing rush hour streets. They are sincere, polite but talkative men with instrument cases. They admire the local scenery and appear unfed. By day they seem incapable of action but at night they step onto a stage and with taut fiddle bows, worn cutlery and dirty strings bring you a focused, vibrant and joyful sound. They are the Hackensaw Boys – and they are in your town.
After seven years of relentless touring throughout the United States, Europe and the U.K., the Hackensaw Boys are being recognized as one of the most exciting groups on the diverse Americana music scene. The group’s second release for Nettwerk Records Look Out (available June 19th – 2007) represents the recorded culmination of the Hackensaw’s unique vision: A celebratory but defiant sound culled from old-time mountains, backstage doorways and punishing drives through the evolving American landscape. Nine of the album’s 12 songs were written from within the group and sometimes-Modest Mouse-sometimes-Hackensaw, Tom Peloso, contributed two tracks. A pounding rendition of the traditional “Gospel Plow” rounds out the package.
The Hackensaw Boys have survived departures and arrivals, tribulations, blessings and, most importantly, each other. Add to this, thousands of nights in hundreds of clubs from Nashville to Bangor, from Los Angeles to Rotterdam and you begin to get an idea of the dedication and sheer mule-like tenacity that is the Hackensaw Boy ethic. So, whether you catch these guys on the road or pick them up in a store, be sure to check out the Hackensaw Boys – the perfect anodyne for the aches and pains of modern life.
WHAT DO WILLIAM FAULKNER AND THE HACKENSAW BOYS HAVE IN COMMON? Aside from a tendency to say stupid things while drunk and an inability to effectively employ punctuation and a deep appreciation for the tragic history of the American South—they've both been featured in the Oxford American Review! Check out the 2007 Southern Music Issue featuring a compilation CD with "Look Out Dog" as well as a great article by Geoffrey Himes, who says of the boys: "Even when this Charlottesville band employs ancient Appalachian motifs, they never pretend to be something they're not."
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