Hard-charging bluegrass outfit The HillBenders are celebrating their 10 year anniversary as a band with the release of an eponymous new album and an anniversary tour. THE HILLBENDERS is the follow-up to Missouri quintet’s critically acclaimed 2015 release, TOMMY: A BLUEGRASS OPRY, an acoustic interpretation of The Who’s legendary rock opera of the same name. Rolling Stone said the album turned “that pivotal moment in rock history upside down but still retained its stunning creative juice.
The HillBenders were able to recruit Eric Uglum (Ralph Stanley, Alison Krauss, Sara Watkins, Rob Ickes) to produce THE HILLBENDERS and all 11 tracks were cut live with the entire band, with the only overdubs being additional harmony vocals. As usual with this band, they all write and sing. The HillBenders also came across some interesting cover selections to help tell their story, pulling from the electro-pop world with a grassy version of MGMT’s “Kids.” There’s also a “co-write” with the late, great John Hartford that came from guitarist Jim Rea, who crafted the music and melody to lyrics found in Hartford’s book, “Word Movies.”High energy performances, a diverse catalog, and a slice of humor make way for what appears to be more of a brotherhood than a business—and each audience they play for becomes a part of that family.