How about “Hee Haw” for musical inspiration?
Grand Rapids’ The Jukejoint Handmedowns point to the ‘70s variety show hosted by country legends Buck Owens and Roy Clark as a major influence on their “big tent American roots” form of honky-tonk-styled, cry-in-your-beer music.
Of course, Tim Foley, who plays stand-up bass in the quartet, also credits his discovery of a Hank Williams songbook about a decade ago for piquing his interest in throwback country strains. As he flipped from page to page, he realized “there wasn’t a dud in there.”
The same might be said for the Jukejoint Handmedowns’ repertoire, which spills over with smile-inducing lyrical hooks and plenty of twang, along with covers of classic country tunes and American standards.
First launched in 2010 as a duo by Foley and guitarist Nate James, the band later added Paul Harris on pedal-steel guitar and Craig Van Otteren (from The Willeys) on mandolin, further enhancing its striking harmonies and foot-stomping approach.
The band released its first album, “Everything But the Squeal,” earlier this year, filled with catch country-fied nuggets such as “Busy Being Lonesome,” “One More Shot” and “Don’t Wait Up.”
The foursome packed into the studios of News Talk 1340 AM this week for Local Spins Live, squeezing a stand-up bass, pedal-steel guitar, acoustic guitar and mandolin into the intimate confines to perform a harmony-spiced rendition of “Oh So Blue,” which was written by James.
You can listen to the entire podcast here, and watch a video of the band’s performance below. (And check out a story and video of last week’s Local Spins Live guest, renowned bluesman Donald Kinsey, by clicking here.)
Better yet, catch the Jukejoint Handmedowns “rat-kickin’ ” live show when they open for Lucky Tubb & the Modern Day Troubadours at the Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill on Aug. 3. They also play Gun Lake Casino on Aug. 9.
“Hee Haw” and Williams aside, the band also cites everything from Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash to Little Jimmy Dickens and the Asylum Street Spankers as influences, with “drinkin’, cheatin’, honky tonkin’, pinin’ for mother, ropin’, ridin’, doin’ time, trains, and cryin’ in our beer” as interests.
Clearly, a sense of humor helps drive this rusty ol’ musical truck, along with a healthy dose of passion for an American art form that’s enjoyed a bit of a resurgence as of late. Mainstream country it’s not.