Wednesday, March 28, 2012

No Joke with this band- Ha Ha Tonka

I first met the band Ha Ha Tonka on possibly one of their worst nights ever. They had been on one of their long tours across the country that a band needs to do to make a living. The van they had used on the tour had died a few days earlier and was 5 states away. They had put all of their equipment and bodies into the vans of the other bands on the tour. As you can imagine they were at the end of their patience. They had to make a decision as to whether to put a lot of money into the van or start the process of buying a new one once the current tour finished. I had been contacted by their manager Frank Hill to work the merch table for them in Baltimore. They had so much going on that I just tried to stay out of their way. I had never heard their music but figured that the show that evening wouldn’t be very good, with all that was on their minds. I thankfully couldn’t have been more wrong. From the moment they got on the stage, all that mattered was their music. From their kick ass songs to their beautiful harmonies they had the crowd right with them. They gained a number of fans that evening and a lot of respect from me.

The band formed in 2004 in Springfield, Missouri and are named after a state park in the Ozarks in Missouri. In 2007 when they signed with Bloodshot Records and released Buckle in the Bible Belt and followed it up with Novel Sounds of the Nouveau South in 2009. Their music combines elements of Americana, Southern Rock, Folk and some twang of Alternative Country. This is combined with a lot of sweet four part harmony. Usually during their shows they will lay down their instruments and send chills up your spine with their voices. But trust me these guys can rock and lay down a strong beat. They have toured with bands like Langhorne Slim and the Old 97’s. Their newest album Death of a Decade is their strongest to date. It really shows off their musicianship and diversity in their roots. It was one of my top 5 albums of last year. I know it is good because I am still listening to it months later. The songs build you up and take you with them. Enjoy this video of “Usual Suspects” from Death of a Decade. I chose this video to show off their harmonies but trust me this song can also rock out. Enjoy.

I have had the privilege of working the merch table for this band a few more times since we first met. Not only are they incredibly talented, but they are some of the nicest people I have ever worked with. They are always so gracious and I feel lucky to know them. They also have my favorite band tee shirt ever. Do yourself a favor and pick up some of their music and make sure to see them live when they come to your town. They write great songs and put on an amazing live performances. Everyone I have ever told them to see their shows, has agreed that their live show is outstanding (and usually end up buying a tee shirt because they are so cool).

Update: Two of my favorite bands have released new albums recently. Delta Spirit released a self titled album even though it is their 3rd release. Heartless Bastards just released Arrow. Both are amazing and worth the purchase. You won’t be disappointed if you like either of the bands.