Hackensaw Boys | 02.20.08

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hackensaw.jpgThe Hackensaw Boys play bluegrass music fervently. Their sound is authentic, and unlike some bands desperately striving for that Americana sound, they pull it off effortlessly.

 

 

 

Blueberry Hill, St. Louis

Walking down the stairs of Blueberry Hill and into the Duck Room, I was confused.  There was a band on stage that kind of looked like the Hackensaw Boys and had the same number of members on most of the same instruments; but they didn't have the energy or style of the Hackensaw Boys as I remember seeing them opening for Modest Mouse and whoever else I've seen them open for. Adding to my confusion, a friend introduced me to Shawn, their new banjo player. I think I said something really intelligent like "Oh.  I guess you're not on stage?" 

The mystery was soon solved when I realized that the opening band was still performing, a local folk/bluegrass outfit named The Sawmill Band. To be frank, this band didn't really do much for me, and I used the time they were playing to use the restroom and get a drink. 

The Boys started their set off with a couple of songs from their new release, Look Out.  After playing "Radio," they made a couple of jokes and went into "Blue-Eyed Girl."  Following this introduction of new songs, they continued with "Ruby Pearl," from their second release, Keep it Simple. Next, they played a mix of both new and older songs, with a highlight being the new "Oh, Girl," a creepy revenge song. 

The Hackensaw Boys play bluegrass music fervently. Their sound is authentic, and unlike some bands desperately striving for that Americana sound, they pull it off effortlessly. It's just as exciting to watch the fiddle or banjo player as it is to try to figure out what the hell is going on with the "Charismo," the make-shift percussion instrument comprised mostly of cans - some rusting, some not - strapped to Justin Neuhardt's chest.  When I asked him how many times it had been reconstructed, I believe the answer was somewhere around 38. 

The band has the ability to get a crowd dancing, flailing square-dance style across the floor. Fittingly, more people took to the dance floor for "Dance Around." The crowd was an odd mix, pretty diverse, but with a definite white boy, dreadlock sector. 

The sound quality was really good at Blueberry Hill the night of the show, that or the acoustics of the somewhat intimate room really suit the Hackensaw Boys. They sounded much as they do recorded, but with the advantage of being the kind of band that wins over fans with a fantastic live show. To add to the intimate setting, for their encore songs, the band huddled around the front of the stage with no mikes and played from there.  They soon moved into the audience and finished up the show being swallowed by fans. | Jaffa Aharonov

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