This Friday night the Boulder Theater will feature some of the most talented young bluegrass musicians around: the Hackensaw Boys. Conceived in the fall of ‘99 in Charlottesville, Virginia, the band has grown to eight musicians on a panoply of instruments including a mouth harp, mandolin, a couple of banjos, and a device called a “charismo” - a percussion/spoons combination played by Hackensaw Boy Salvage. I had the chance to chat for a bit with Salvage this past week, as the band found themselves working on a number of projects…
The Hackensaw Boys have paid their dues, starting by playing outside of a mall in Charlottesville and working their way up to full national tours in just three years - a testament to their musical prowess and ability to galvanize live audiences. This past summer they performed on the Unlimited Sunshine Tour with the Flaming Lips, De La Soul and Cake, as well as opening for Modest Mouse. The tour was the Hackensaw Boys’ second national tour, but their most ambitious in terms of the size of venues they were performing in.
In talking to Salvage about the tour, he felt that the experience had benefited the band in a number of ways. In opening for Modest Mouse, the band assumed a more punk rock-ish form than before, giving them a bit of a harder edge to their sound than most other bluegrass bands are capable of. Salvage noted that the size of the venue didn’t really phase the band or change their sound, as they still managed to turn most people onto their sound relatively quickly. The only thing that changed was that they opted to limit their microphone configuration to just three mics. The band seemed to enjoy that setup a great deal and, having been experimenting with different setups recently, are now playing with four mics.
The past couple of months have allowed the band some time off to return to family and friends, which has helped recharge them for their upcoming shows. The Boys are also working on a new studio recording, which is slated to hit stores in early March. For those who have not yet heard the Hackensaw Boys, their sound has been described as “the Carter Family meets the Ramones.” In speaking with Salvage, he validated that both bands were huge influences, but tempered that by noting that their tastes were very eclectic and that two other favorites included Hank Williams and Public Enemy. Eclectic, indeed. He went on to describe their sound as an older style of music that is inspired by the everyday life of a blue-collar worker. The band has a blast playing before live audiences, and crowds readily feed off the energy to the band. The sheer number of Hackensaws means that there is an incredible variety in the style of tunes with different takes from different writers with different perspectives. While the majority of their songs are structured in key areas, different spaces for individual soloing offer a springboard for the group to improvise and keep their sound fresh.
The Hackensaw Boys will be making a brief stop in Colorado before heading back East to tour throughout February and early March. The band will be kicking things off Thursday in Colorado Springs, and are headlining this year's Brewgrass Jamboree and Hootenanny at the Boulder Theater on Friday. The show should sell out fairly quickly so be sure to secure your ticket. The Hootenanny will benefit the Nature Conservancy as well! Below is the listing of the Hackensaw Boys' current tour dates, so you can see them for yourself...
Hackensaw Boys Tour Dates
January 23 | Colorado Springs, CO
January 24 | Boulder, CO
January 31 | Richmond, VA
February 1 | Roanoke, VA
February 6 | Asheville, NC
February 7 | Atlanta, GA
February 8 | Greensville, SC
February 12 | Blacksburg, VA
February 13 | Fredericksburg, VA
February 14 | Norfolk, VA
February 15 | Charlottesville, VA
March 6 | Harrisonburg, VA
March 7 | Nashville, TN
March 8 | Little Rock, AR
JamBase | Colorado
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