Hackensaw Boys !!
It all started in 1999 when four friends from the beautiful Shenandoah Valley in Virginia all ended up living an hour southeast in Charlottesville. They agreed to get together and work on some songs and quickly decided they wanted to form the Hackensaw Boys as a music collective. They played their first show on the street in Charlottesvillle the same day of their first practice! The four members quickly started adding new members until their ranks were 12 players for their first US tour.
So far over the last 19 years there have been 28 members past and present some living some gone in the collective and you never quite know who might be guest appearing on any given night. Regardless of who’s playing, what one can always expect is a rocking good time when Hackensaw Boys are in town.
Charismo is the Hackensaw Boys record you’ve been waiting to hear. The 11-track album feels like the zenith release of the band’s 17 years, gathering their diverse life experiences and myriad of roots influences, and crystallizing them into a magnum opus on the Hackensaw way of being. Traditional Appalachian and Delta music lay the groundwork, but it’s injected with a heavy dose of the contemporary, good-times-roll kind of spit and vinegar the band has become known for over the years.
Produced by Larry Campbell – who has lent his talents to Bob Dylan, Levon Helm, and countless others – Charismo sees the band reeled in and slightly refined, though still as spirited as ever. The songs (all written by longtime Hackensaws David Sickmen) are tinged with an attitude of scrappy resilience, spinning tales and metaphors of everyday, working class struggles and triumphs. With Campbell’s production, the Hackensaw’s somewhat casual, porch-front aesthetic is sharpened around the edges, focusing in on the simple beauty of their melodies and the earnestness in their delivery.
Transcendent of the parts that make up its whole, the record has a collective feel that reflects the band’s rambling history; the Hackensaws have been a home for dozens of musicians over the years, but have steadfastly endured through life’s many changes. With Charismo, the Boys don’t let down on providing their signature ever-present, feel-good energy. It’s the kind of intangible presence that reminds us of our connection to other people and to our history, to the idea that we are a part of something much larger than ourselves.
The name of the album is the same as the percussive instrument invented by Justin Neuhardt (who played with the band in its early days) that has been employed nightly since the band’s maiden tour 16 years ago. The charismo is made of recycled wood and scrap – tin cans, hubcaps, and so on – and is constantly broken down and re-assembled as the parts wear out and new ones are found. Much like the fluid, ever-changing nature of the instrument, Charismo shows us that The Hackensaw Boys are always moving forward like a mighty wheel turning, continuing to spread the (not quite) bygone spirit of down-home music to old and new audiences alike.
SUSTO is the brainchild of Justin Osborne. It was born out of collaboration between Osborne & various colleagues including but not limited to Johnny Delaware, Wolfgang Zimmerman, Nicholas Scott Woodley, Jordan Hicks & Camilo Miranda. These collaborations took place between 2011 & 2013 in Charleston & Havana.
Early writing & recording for SUSTO began in late 2011.
In early 2013 Osborne began performing solo in South Carolina & Cuba under the name of SUSTO. By August of that year SUSTO was performing as a full band. In addition to Osborne covering rhythm guitar, keyboards, & lead vocals _ this line-up included Taylor McCleskey on drums, Eric Mixon on Bass and Johnny Delaware on lead guitar & background vocals.
By early 2014 the debut self titled album was finalized & subsequently released by Osborne & Delaware's label Peninsula Records on April Fool's Day (04/01/2014).
After an extensive North American solo tour (Summer 2014) in support of SUSTO's debut album, Osborne returned to Charleston where he formed a new live band including Gordon Keiter on drums, Matt Lohan on bass and background vocals, & Corey Campbell on lead guitar.
The band maintains a moderate tour schedule & it is rumored that a second album with the werking title "& I'm Fine Today" is now in production; no timeframe has been established regarding it's release.