A rollicking sound, paired with string music. It’s a riotous energy – a sonic rebelliousness – that finds its true soul in something akin to punk. Where punk succeeds in its energy, it often fails in its musicianship and its connection to deep-down roots. The Hogslop String Band steals that wild rock and punk spirit but offers alongside it an acoustic musicianship found only in the hands of capable performers. When this Nashville-based Americana outfit starts playing, you know it. You’ll never be bored watching this personality-filled group do its thing.
“The sound, energy, and musical chemistry was there from day one,” explained banjo player and vocalist Daniel Binkley, about what informs the band’s high-energy sound. “We found a common interest in more ‘rowdy’ string band music loaded with energy and often played fast. As we began to write original music, some material didn’t fit neatly into the traditional string band ‘box,’ but we still maintained the energy we loved in old fiddle tunes. What we’re doing now is an extension of that idea.” He added, “The lines of different genres seem to be blurring more and more in general, and we’ve come to think that if the music makes you feel good, that’s all that matters.”
An eclectic mix of life experiences and backgrounds amongst the band members no doubt contributed to the group’s sound. The lineup includes Kevin Martin (fiddle and vocals); Gabriel Kelly (guitar, harmonica and vocals); Will Harrison (mandolin, guitar and vocals); Daniel Binkley (banjo and vocals); and the single-named bandmate known as Pickle (bass, dancing and “general foolishness”).
“We all began playing as kids, guitar for most of us,” Binkley explained. “We have each been in a variety of bands over the years, ranging in styles from country to punk to blues.”
After coming together, they realized their unique combo of talents was worth building upon.
“At some point, you do have to decide to go all-in, which can be scary,” he said, “but I think each of us came to realize at some point that music was where we belonged, and other career paths just weren’t for us. That’s when the hard work begins!”
The hard work of the band includes both touring and recording. They were on the roster for this year’s Bonnaroo Festival, and their upcoming schedule includes gigs such as the Under the Big Sky Festival on July 14 in Whitefish, Montana; a July 16 show with Elle King at the Old Saloon in Emigrant, Montana; and a July 18 appearance at Britt Festival Pavilion in Jacksonville, Oregon, also as an opener for Elle King.
They’ve released several recordings, including the eponymous 11-track album, “Hogslop String Band,” released in 2019. Their most recent release of this spring was the country single “Highs and Lows.”
“It’s the story of a classic on-again/off-again relationship and the desire to keep trying even when you know it probably won’t work in the end,” Binkley said. “I think we’ve all known someone in that kind of situation, right?”
As far as the future goes, the band wants to keep on keeping on with what has worked so far. Where do these guys see themselves in, for instance, five years?
“Hopefully, still doing what we love, putting on fun shows, and making fun music,” Binkley said. “We have a great team and are super excited for what lies down the road. We have had a longstanding idea to put on our own small festival with music friends we’ve met over the years. Who knows, maybe you’ll see the first Hogfest soon!”
In the end, it’s the fans getting these musicians riled up enough to bring so much energy to what they do. The fans are clearly their raison d’etre.
“The people who come out to our shows are amazing,” Binkley said. “We see repeat faces in many areas of the country, and sometimes they’ve driven for hours to a show. Those people are so encouraging and really keep us going,” he said, “so thank you!”