Music has worked its way into nearly every aspect of today's culture. Something
in a song immediately sends the brain into a complex reaction involving impulse,
memory, and emotion. This phenomenon has been the basis for everything from
religious ceremonies to battle calls to jackpots on the slot machine. Its no
surprise that many folks have attempted to exploit it just to make a few bucks.
Down in Mississippi music has a way of appearing as a near primitive expression –
radiating directly from the soul. It is often found late at night coming from a sweaty
bar or juke joint or porch swing, long after the day is done. There you'll find the
performers and audience entangled in a dancin', playin', hootin' and hollerin' room of
energy that is bursting at the seems.
It is this basis that sets the Mayhem String Band apart from many of their peers.
Gone are the polished edges of contemporary taste and Nashville production.
These distractions are replaced by the energy and emotion of performers who
understand the unbridled force of live music. Their brand of outlaw bluegrass
conjures up the ghosts of Hank and Waylon by creating chaos and taming it in the
same performance. These men play string music, raw and aggressive, with the
simple hope that people will listen up, catch the buzz and get to dancin'.
The Mayhem String Band has its roots in Oxford, Mississippi where 4 veteran musicians of the music scene got together and formed a bluegrass band in 2005. Ben Johnson (Bass), Chris Steiner (Guitar), Jamison Hollister (Fiddle, Mandolin) and J.T. Lack (Banjo) took on a weekly gig that eventually became known as "Wednesday Night Mayhem", born out of the whiskey-soaked dance floor and general insanity that seemed to follow the band around. After months of numerous shows in the hills of North Mississippi they settled on the name Mayhem String Band, also an acronym for “May All Your Hangovers End Miraculously.” In February of 2006 Kevin Larkin, creator of the Spaghetti Western bluegrass band "Pineross," moved from Boulder, Colorado to
join the band on mandolin, accordion and harmonica.
Just 3 years and hundreds of shows later, the Mayhem String Band has taken
their bluegrass sound to a new level, incorporating Cajun two-steps, Irish jigs, and
a chunk of Mississippi blues. Each member of the band writes songs, injecting
familiar traditional sounds with the madness that defines the world today. The
result is a live show balancing songcraft, instrumental virtuosity, heart-wrenching
harmonies and a plain ole' good time. They deliver this concoction in an all-out
assault of music on whomever may be listening.
These 5 players have been taking their brand of Mississippi bluegrass all over the
country playing over 170 in the past year. Their second studio album, Land Pirates, was released in March, 2009. It was co-produced by Jimbo Mathus (Squirrel Nut Zippers) and features Ferd Moyse (Hackensaw Boys) on fiddle.