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Broken pelvis won't stop the Hackensaw Boys

Dec. 10, 2008 @ 08:20 PM

HUNTINGTON -- Note to big trucks with inattentive drivers -- it takes more than a Ford F-150 to break the mountain spirit of a bicycle-riding Hackensaw Boy.

Even with a broken pelvis, Ward Harrison, who plays guitar, bass and sings for that wild Charlottesville, Va., bunch known from California to Dublin as The Hackensaw Boys, has been picking -- and maybe even occasionally grinning -- through the pain.

"I just went to the doc for my first follow-up, and I am up and moving and heavily medicated," Harrison said. "I'm probably not going to be working, like doing manual labor, until February, but I am already doing a couple shows."

The party spirit hits full throttle Friday night as The Hackensaw Boys make a return trip to Huntington's V Club, 741 6th Ave., for a hoe-down with kindred spirits The Wild Rumpus of Fayetteville, W.Va., opening the show.

Harrison said the band, which has toured with a strange range of artists including The Flaming Lips, Modest Mouse, Camper Van Beethoven, The Detroit Cobras, Cake and De La Soul, was excited to find Huntington after all these years.

Somehow, the band that started out with a dozen members busking in the Charlottesville, Va., streets in 1999 and has since chalked up thousands of gigs around the world including "Mountain Stage," and tons of Morgantown shows, had never been here.

"We actually spent the whole day in Huntington," Harrison said of the band's gig here earlier this year. "We didn't have anywhere to be, and we'd never been there before, which is weird because we are always going to and from Kentucky and Ohio, so just to get a western West Virginia gig that wasn't some tiny town was really cool."

Ward said it's been a good year for the band, whose members include Wheeling native Justin Neuhardt, the wild percussionist whose band name is Salvage since he rips and rocks on Charismo, kind of like the Wall-E of recycled, homemade percussion instruments.

"Man, honestly it has been hand-to-mouth like we always are, but we definitely are enjoying the fruits of our labor and enjoying the festivals," Ward said. "We've gotten on the festival circuit and that has been very good to us. We had one trip overseas, and we're doing two next year. We've got Holland and Norway this time."

There's also good news on the record front. The band that has appeared at just about every festival you can name from Bonnaroo to All Good here in West Virginia, will be traipsing back into the studio to burn down some more originals.

The band has notched six albums since 2000, including its last three on Nettwerk label -- home to such artists as Sarah MacLachlan and Old Crow Medicine Show.

This will be the group's first CD since the highly-regarded "Look Out," (June 2007) that got to No. 6 on the Americana music charts. That album contained nine originals including a couple from the sometimes Modest Mouse, sometimes Hackensaw Tom Peloso.

"We're taking January off, and then we're rehearsing and going into Sound of Music in February to record another full length," Harrison said. "We're pretty excited to get some of the new material on a hard copy and get something to push around and to promote. This last record was pretty high speed, and I think this will be about half real raucous and maybe a couple more introspective, slower numbers."

Like they always do, the Hackensaw Boys have been out in the crowd trying out that batch of new tunes like one about Willie Nelson and one that Harrison wrote about the end of times that he is threatening to call "River of Light, Sweet Crude."

"It's kind of a dark number, that song I wrote about end times are coming," Harrison said. "It's a real peppy song until it gets to the chorus. Then it talks about how we have dug ourselves into a hole by becoming so dependent upon fossil fuels."

Interestingly, the band, which spent 2003 serving as Charlie Louvin's backing band on the Country Music Hall of Fame member's nationwide tour, likes to unplug and get right down in the crowd to try out new songs.

"When we typically do our shows, there's the raucous and the wild show and then we hop off the microphones and do acoustic songs," Harrison said. "That is the testing ground for the new material. There's not as much pressure under the microphones and the lights. That is where we sneak stuff in. It's pretty cool when people remember that and tape it, and it shows up on YouTube, and they love songs that aren't even on records yet."

Harrison said the band loves bringing the front-porch picking to the people.

"First off, it's one of our favorite times of the show, and it's amazing when some of the kids are like, 'wow, they didn't use microphones,'" Harrison said with a laugh. "They're so used to seeing rock bands fighting with amplifiers. It's cool that people really appreciate the fact that you came down and got on the floor. If you don't have a porch, we bring the porch to you."

WHAT: The Hackensaw Boys (Charlottesville, Va.) with opening act The Wild Rumpus (Fayetteville, W.Va.)

WHERE: V Club, 741 6th Ave., Huntington

WHEN: Doors open at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 12

HOW MUCH: Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 day of show.

GET TIX: Go online at www.myspace.com/wvvclub or call 304-552-7569

ON THE WEB: Listen to the band at www. hackensawboys.com or www.myspace.com/hacken sawboys. Check out more about the V Club online at www.myspace.com/wvvclub

ON DECK: Some of the other bands playing V Club in December are: Tonight, Luke Jivetalker; Dec. 13, Ten Carp Lie and Civil State; Dec., 18, Urban Sophisticate (hip-hop ensemble); Dec. 19, Little Victories Benefit; Dec. 20, Genuine Junk Band; and Dec. 25, Charlie Brown Christmas Party.

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