I have followed The Hackensaw Boys since the band’s genesis in 1999. Back then, a couple hours at The Blue Moon Diner with the Hackensaws and a cheeseburger, a couple Bud long necks, and a grillswith made for an epic evening.
Now, some seventeen years later, I have a confession to make.
I used to harbor a deep desire to be a Hackensaw. Said desire was misguided, as I am no musician of note. At best, I could have been third or fourth chair charismo banger, or maybe the washboard tech. You can see that there was no lust for on stage glory that drove me.
It was the nicknames.
Uncle Blind Bobby. Shiner. Pee Paw. Mahlon. Kooky-Eyed Fox. Baby J. Jigsaw. To join The Hackensaw Boys was to be welcomed into a second family and christened with a new moniker. What if I had had the talent? What if I had been invited to join the band? Such questions have led me to wonder what my musical alter ego might have been.
Could I have been Piebald Hackensaw? Tie Rod or Cathead Biscuit? Maybe Lycra, Clodhopper, Wingnut, Hickory, or Brittle?
Oh, the pseudonymic possbilities!
In bygone days, the number of Hackensaws on stage could swell to over fifteen and venue floors were in danger of buckling due to dancing crowds at the band’s live shows. While the extended clan remains large, three Hackensaws – Dave Sickmen, Ferd Moyse, and Brian Gorby – are now charged with continuing the family tradition of rough and rowdy Appalachian music.
The Hackensaw Boys are set to release Charismo, their first studio record in nearly a decade, on Friday. Named for the junkyard percussion set cobbled together by Salvage Hackensaw in the band’s first years, the record is aptly titled. More than any of other recording in recent memory, Charismo brings to mind the Hackensaw’s work on early records like Get Some and Keep It Simple.
Recently, I had the pleasure of catching up Dave Sickmen to chat about the new record.
BRO – Ten years since the last studio album. Why the long gap, and how does it feel to get these new tunes out?
DS – It has been a while since our last recording, but there’s no real specific reason why, I suppose. Good things take time to achieve and we believe this is a great recording. We wanted to take our time with it and make it the best it could be. It feels rewarding to put something out there again, and we hope it’ll end up being worth the wait for the folks who enjoy Hackensaw tunes.
BRO – This record really reminds of the band’s earliest days. How did working with Larry Campbell bring things full circle and return you to where you began?
DS – Larry is an excellent captain. We trusted him and the decisions he made with regards to the songs. His goal was the same as ours – a solid batch of songs, where each song would stand well next to the others. Maybe some of the sense that this new record gets back to our roots is due to the fact that Larry was able to guide us in distilling the songs in a way that made the crucial elements in each tune really shine. It’s not overproduced, but it was produced by an expert hand that understands where we come from and where we’ve been, but also where we want to go.
BRO – If I wanted to put together my own charismo, could you share with me any tricks of the trade for capturing just the right tone?
DS – Head on over to your local recycling center and grab a nice set of cans you’d like to bang on. Then invite Mary Jane over for a couple beers and your’re on the right track to building the perfect charismo!
DS – We are featuring “You Want Me To Change” on this month’s Trail Mix. What’s the story behind the song?
DS – Friends and lovers come and go, but in the end who we are as individuals is what gets us through. It’s really hard to do sometimes, but one ought to be true to oneself as much as possible.
BRO – How long has it been since anyone called you Shiner?
DS – Just now!!!
The Hackensaw Boys will be celebrating the release of Charismo with shows in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, at Sugarlands Distilling Company on Friday, and in Salisburg, North Carolina, at New Sarum Brewing Company on Saturday. Later dates this month include stops in Virginia, New York, and Pennsylvania.
You can dig up more dirt on The Hackensaw Boys, including when they will be rolling into your town and how you can grab your own copy of Charismo, by checking out the band’s website.