This is not your granddaddy's bluegrass.
While High Strung String Band brings the usual cast of musical characters to the stage-- the banjo, the mandolin, the upright bass, the guitar-- they add modernity to the genre by writing original songs and turning to a variety of additional instruments -- the electric lap steel guitar, the snare drum, the washboard-- to add dimension to their sound. The result is a hybrid symphony of lightning-fast string solos and high-and-lonesome twang, set behind soaring vocal harmonies and tug-at-your-heartstrings lyrics. High Strung String Band plays progressive bluegrass with a nod to the traditionalists, but all eyes squarely on musical creativity and experimentation.
HSSB formed in 2009 in music-hungry Athens, Georgia, when John Parmer, guitarist and songwriter, met Rubing Yen, the mandolin player. The two found they had a lot in common -- they'd been playing their instruments for over a decade, in myriad bands across the country (and in Rube's case, across the world) and shared a love for another guitar/mandolin duo, Jerry Garcia and David Grisman. They started picking around backyard fires, in friends' kitchens, on back porches, and at local Athens watering holes. Before they knew it, their musical outfit had grown to include another guitar, an upright bass, and a banjo, and a full-fledged bluegrass band was born.
In 2010, HSSB released their self-titled EP, a collection of original songs produced by Shannon Pengelly of Olive Street Studios. They played festivals, indoor venues, small dive bars and everywhere in between, eager to share their sound with an audience. HSSB developed a reputation for getting listeners on their feet, dancing, stomping, and singing along. They recorded a few of their high-energy shows and compiled the tracks to create 29 String Fling, a full-length live album, in 2011. 29 String Fling included 13 tracks, 10 of which were original tunes. With the new album in tow, the band set out on a mini summer tour, playing gigs in north Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina.
High Strung String Band breathes new life into an old tradition. They play a form of bluegrass not bound by rules or convention, a form that thrives with musical experimentation, original songs, and unique arrangements. In 2011, HSSB played over sixty shows, gaining momentum and new fans while honing their sound. High Strung String Band has termed their genre "joyful folkgrass" and attendance at one of their live shows promises not only joy, but also thoughtful, energetic music played with verve and enthusiasm. Catch an upcoming show to hear their new take on a traditional genre and to join in the fun!