Thursday · Northside Tavern
These days it seems like the genre bands with the most loyal followings are the ones who are most adept at revering the past and embracing the future. The Hackensaw Boys fit comfortably in that category.
The six-man Bluegrass collective (a number that's occasionally fluctuated to twice that size and sometimes includes Modest Mouse's Tom Peloso, who co-founded the band in 1999 with the Hackensaw's only other original member, Robert "Mahlon" Bullington) adheres to the humble and time-tested heritage of front-porch, down-home musicianship. But at the same time, the Boys understand the connected dots between the traditioned Bluegrass of the '30s and the impassioned Americana/Alt.Country of right now. The band's success in this direction is largely due to the members' amazing ability to combine those concepts in a joyous presentation that respects each one equally without watering down one with the other.
Proof of the Hackensaws' amazing versatility is evidenced by their awesome gig resume, which spikes crazily between opening slots for everyone from The Flaming Lips and Modest Mouse to The Detroit Cobras and De La Soul. They're also keen to collaborate, serving as the backing band for Country singing/songwriting Hall of Fame legend Charlie Louvin and collaborating with Cracker/Camper Van Beethoven mahouts Johnny Hickman and David Lowery (they've also rung in the new year with Del McCoury at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville).
The band's relentless touring schedule also includes every conceivable festival size and configuration, from Bonaroo to Telluride to the Jam Cruise to Kilkenny Roots, and yet they've managed to squeeze in enough writing/recording time to release four studio albums in the past eight years (including last year's acclaimed Look Out) and a live album, a fittingly raucous document celebrating the intensity and musical dedication that have elevated the Hackensaw Boys to beloved status within their adoring fan base.
Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.
Saturday · Southgate House
Mindy Smith's upcoming appearance will be a homecoming of sorts, since the gifted Country/Folk singer/songwriter did some college and local band time here in the early '90s.
But the fact is that Smith has called a lot of places home: Her childhood years were spent in Smithtown on New York's Long Island; she and her pastor/father moved to Knoxville after the 1991 death of her mother; and she relocated to Nashville in 1998 to make a profession out of her burgeoning talent and passion for music.
Smith clearly made the most of her opportunities in Music City. A 2000 win in the prestigious Tin Pan South writer's competition led to a writing position with the Yellow Dog Music publishing company. In 2003, Smith dropped jaws at South By Southwest and was offered a slot on Just Because I'm a Woman, the Dolly Parton tribute CD, where she astonished everyone, including Parton herself, with her reading of "Jolene."
After signing with Vanguard, Smith's debut album, One Moment More, dropped in early 2004 and she nabbed the Americana Award for Best New/Emerging Artist later that year, largely on the success of the single "Come to Jesus," which enjoyed crossover airplay on Country, Christian, AAA and Adult Contemporary playlists. Smith's songs were ultimately incorporated into the soundtracks of TV's Smallville, Summerland and Six Feet Under, broadening her exposure even further.
In 2006, Smith released her sophomore album, Long Island Shores, which led to her performance of the album's second single "Please Stay" on The Tonight Show early last year. Last year also saw the well-received release of My Holiday, Smith's collection of Christmas standards and originals.
Smith's Web site notes that she's currently at work on her fourth album, and it's a safe bet that she'll be trying out some new songs on this tour. Regardless of the set list, when Mindy Smith comes "home," she'll find an eager and receptive audience waiting for her.Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.