If cigarette-and-whiskey voices over fiddles, harmonicas, banjos and guitars tickle your fancy, strap on your boots for the coming weekend. Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, the five-man, beer swindling, bluegrass band from Stephen’s Point, Wisconsin, is coming to Southeast Ohio to play Hocktoberfest at the Hocking College. Flex musician Russell Pedersen sat down with Backdrop Magazine to talk about the upcoming show.
Backdrop Magazine: If you had to, what genre would you place Horseshoes and Hand grenades?
Russell Pedersen: We are a progressive string band. We’re rooted in old-time music in the bluegrass tradition as far as our instruments go and what we all came to learn. So I guess, as a genre, we fall into that progressive bluegrass band kind of rep.
BM: Tell me about the band’s beginning.
RP: Well, we all kinda met randomly where we were going to school. We were all interested in playing music, so as we would meet one another, it was kind of like, “Let’s have a jam session, you should come meet these other pickers.” As we all became friends, the real culmination of all five of us playing together really happened late night at a college party in Stephen’s Point in somebody’s house or basement. From there, we just never quit, figured that we’d start playing around town.
BM: Who are your musical influences?
RP: I love old country music. I love old time music like the old recordings from the south. Currently I’ve been really interested in listening to a fellow named Old Man Luedecke, a singer-songwriter extraordinaire out of Canada. The man just weaves some beautiful works together. He’s definitely been an influence as of late on me. I kind of like listening to a lot of old stuff, but I like listening to a lot of the Midwest strong bands too. All of our friends and a lot of other groups produce all these awesome, great records. I just like to meet a lot of friends and have a lot of good music around to listen to.
BM: Do you guys have any tricks up your sleeve for the show? Is there anything special we can expect?
RP: We’ll be bringing big smiles and a lot of energy. That’s not necessarily our secret, it’s pretty out there on our faces and on our demeanors when we’re on stage. We just love playing music, man. We’ll be coming full force to bring a little Wisco-grass over there to Ohio. I would come with your party pants pressed, ready to have a good time and stomp your feet a little bit.
BM: You guys have a song about (and titled) “Whiskey.” What is your brand of choice?
RP: We’re pretty partial to the ol’ Jim Bean, but no whiskey is outside of our grasp.
BM: Any good road stories you’d like to share with us?
RP: The cool part of the road – it’s not necessarily one story – but we found on tour this summer, no matter the town you walk into, there’s always going to be some pickers around in that town. Meeting those pickers and getting to see the flavor of the area’s folk musicians is one of my favorite experiences on the road. The folks are awesome people you make friends with for life; you can’t wait to go back in town to play there again and see them again, or stay at their house. We play with their dogs in the backyard. That kind of stuff really sticks with me when we go out on the road. I always look forward to going to new towns and meeting new folks and new pickers and seeing the town for who’s there and what the vibe is. It’s a beautiful thing man.