Gypsy Sally's Presents
Old Salt Union
3401 K Street NW
Washington, DC, 20007
Doors 7:00 PM / Show 9:00 PM
This event is 21 and over
Watch & Listen
With feet firmly planted in the old-time song tradition, hands soiled by the dirt of rock n’ roll and eyes fixed steadily on the future of real country music, the Hackensaw Boys are among the most exciting groups charting new territory in today’s diverse Americana music scene.
How does it work?
Everybody sings a bit of lead, everybody sings a bit of harmony and most members know when to shut up. Instrumentation includes banjo, guitar, mandolin, fiddle, harmonica, upright bass, charismo (a home-made tin can contraption) and the occasional trap kit.
Where do they come from?
In the beginning they all lived in Charlottesville, VA, but now the seven members are spread throughout Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and California. For more than a decade, however, they’ve come together to tour the United States, Europe and the U.K. and to record several critically acclaimed albums
Who are they?
The group’s lineup includes:
• Ferd Moyse (strings and horsehair)
• Brian Gorby (traps and sticks)
• David Sickmen (strings and improvised straps)
The group’s latest efforts, The Old Sound of Music, Vol. 1 and The Old Sound of Music, Vol. 2, deliver original material that draws upon the songwriting talents of its members. These six-song collections are the result of recording sessions held at the decaying but comfortable Sound of Music studios on Broad Street in Richmond, VA before it moved to its new location. The recordings were mastered by Grammy award winner Charlie Pilzer at Airshow Mastering in Takoma Park, MD. As with the group’s previous album, Look Out (Nettwerk Records, 2007), all songs were engineered by Library of Congress archival audio restoration specialist (and all around good guy) Bryan Hoffa.
In the fall of 2000, twelve musicians and a photographer friend left the Blue Moon Diner in Charlottesville, VA in a 1964 GMC motorcoach ("The Dirty Bird") and circled the country on a six-week tour of theaters, bars, street corners and alleys.
The Hackensaws have toured with a bevy of diverse acts that were quick to embrace the group’s sound and songcraft, including: The Flaming Lips, Cracker, Modest Mouse, Camper Van Beethoven, The Detroit Cobras, Cake, Railroad Earth, Cheap Trick and De La Soul.
In 2003, the Hackensaw Boys were honored to serve as Charlie Louvin’s backing band on that Country Music Hall of Fame member’s nationwide tour.
Appearances at numerous festivals including Pukelpop in Belgium, Bonnaroo in Tennessee, Bergenfest in Norway, Telluride in Colorado, Belfast Folk Festival in Ireland, Floyd Fest in Virginia, Lowlands in the Netherlands, Pickathon in Oregon, and more…
More Recent History
Really good times in places like Seattle, Antwerp, Asheville, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Minneapolis, Knoxville, London, New York, Portland, Utrecht, Baltimore, Atlanta, Chicago, Dublin, Los Angeles, and more…
Old Salt Union
A great band is more than the proverbial sum of its parts, and in the pursuit of becoming something that can cut through the clutter of YouTube stars and contest show runner-ups, a great roots music band must become a way of life. Less likely to rely on production or image, they’ve got to connect with their audience only through the craftsmanship of their songs, the energy they channel on the stage and the story that brings them together.
Old Salt Union is a string band founded by a horticulturist, cultivated by classically trained musicians, and fueled by a vocalist/bass player who is also a hip-hop producer with a fondness for the Four Freshmen. It is this collision of styles and musical vocabularies that informs their fresh approach to bluegrass and gives them an electric live performance vibe that seems to pull more from Vaudeville than the front porch.
In 2015 they won the FreshGrass Band contest and found the perfect collaborator in Compass Records co-founder and GRAMMY winning banjoist and composer, Alison Brown, whose attention to detail and high standards pushed the group to develop their influences from beyond a vocabulary to pull from during improvisation and into the foundation of something truly compelling in the roots music landscape.
Violinist John Brighton mentions some names familiar to the Compass roster as key influences, musicians like Darol Anger, Edgar Meyer, Mike Marshall and Mark O’Connor, all of whom have collaborated with Brown in the past. Primary vocalist and bassist, Jesse Farrar (for the indie rock heads - yes, he’s related – Son Volt front man Jay Farrar is Jesse’s uncle) brings an alternative rock spirit as well as his unique formative experiences as a hip hop producer and bass player for a national tour of The Four Freshmen. The band’s self-titled Compass debut combines these instrumental proclivities with pop melodies and harmonies into a coherent piece of work that carves out a road-less-travelled for the band in the now crowded roots music genre.
The album kicks off with a nod to alternative rock sensibilities – a deconstructed symphonic drone creeps in slowly, while Farrar emerges through the atmospherics to deliver the first lines “Stranded on a lonely road/Trying to find my way back home/A dollar and a broken heart/Didn’t seem to get me very far”. His words are followed by a dramatic moment of silence (a trick often used in hip hop) that quickly launches into “Where I Stand”, a hard-driving bluegrass track that gets moving so powerfully you almost don’t notice the layer of angelic harmonies flowing consistently underneath.
Mandolinist Justin Wallace takes over lead vocal duties for the second track “Feel My Love” as well as a version of Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al”. He pops up again on his composition “On My Way” and his no-frills, approachable voice is the perfect complement to Farrar’s more gymnastic style. The two work together beautifully on the Wallace-penned, “Hard Line”. Wallace is further showcased on the disc’s lone instrumental “Flatt Baroque”, composed by Brighton, who joins him in some twin mandolin, and it’s this more contemplative moment on the album where the listener hears him reaching to be in perfect sync with his bandmate, that best reflects Wallace’s role in the evolution story of the band. If Farrar has emerged as the heartbeat, then Wallace is the soul.
Perhaps most surprisingly, the band was founded by banjoist Ryan Murphey, the aforementioned horticulturist who came to bluegrass music and the banjo later in life. Finding a kindred spirit in Dustin Eiskant, the band’sformer guitarist and Farrar’s cousin, the pair started the band in 2012 and Murphey played the banjo and led the band’s business through its early incarnations, including the recruitment of Farrar in 2014.
When Eiskant quit in 2016, just as the band’s already impressive trajectory seemed to be taking a significant step forward, Murphey and the band were able to reset, adding guitarist Rob Kindle to the lineup. Kindle brings a bluegrass foundation from his early exposure to the music as a child in family settings, as well as a degree in jazz performance to the mix.
Though the band had established themselves as a growing festival act with performances at LouFest, Stagecoach Festival, Bluegrass Underground, Winter Wondergrass, Freshgrass, Wakarusa, Yonder Mountain String Band's Harvest Festival, and the 2014 Daytona 500, it was their breakout track on Spotify, “Madam Plum” that seemed to amplify awareness of the band beyond the bluegrass bubble.
Of working with the band in the studio, producer Brown says, “These post modern bluegrassers are true renegades. While they look like a bluegrass band, their musical sensibilities run much deeper and broader, borrowing as much from indie rock and jazz fusion as from Bill Monroe. And, even more exciting to me, they know no fear! They are wide open musical adventurers and we had a great time experimenting in the studio at the crossroads of these disparate influences.”
The most unexpected but possibly most fascinating song on the album is a ballad entitled “Bought and Sold”. Its earnest beauty is balanced with a youthful inventiveness that leaves a solemn mark on the listener who might wake up at the end of it thinking, “What just happened?”.
At this point, the future of the band seems marvelously unclear. The album closes with “Here and Off My Mind” which seems like the bluegrass song that Conor Oberst never wrote featuring a lyric that ends with the promise of “a better life” though from the all-hands-on-deck jam session that breaks out in the middle (is that a kazoo?) one gets the sense that the band can’t imagine a better one than they have in the beat up Winnebago they currently call home.
Old Salt Union’s self-titled new album will be released August 4th.
Old Salt Union’s devotion to a pure and raw approach towards both bluegrass and jazz is what makes them an 'Artist Not To Miss'
Melissa Peterson, Souls In Action
Their chemistry has evolved a songwriting process that lets them be comfortable while being creatively vulnerable around each other
Mark Johnson, Straight Up Magazine
The energy and pure joy they put into that show awoke in me a passion for music that has been recently dampened
Chip Frazier, Twangville
Advance $15/ Day of Show $20 + Fees
Online sales stop at 5pm day of show then tickets are available at door unless posted as sold out.