The Grand Rapids country heroes celebrate “Hungry & Sober” at Founders on Saturday. They’re featured for this week’s spring fund drive edition of Local Spins on WYCE, which also debuted tracks by Hickory Creek Revival, Signal Quartet, Michelle Billingsley and more.
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When I first interviewed Jake Stilson eight years ago, not long after his formation of The Bootstrap Boys, he gushed about his long-held love of country music – from Johnny Cash to Hank Williams.
In terms of their passion for vintage country strains, not much has changed for Stilson and members of the Grand Rapids band.
“We would love to open for Willie Nelson. He is a living legend. Of course, that goes without saying,” Stilson said, then cited a West Michigan-bred star who just happened to release a new single (“California Sober”) with Nelson today.
“If we could tour with Billy Strings, that would be the bee’s knees, the cat’s ass, and the all-around best possible scenario.”
But while the undying ardor for country icons is still the same, The Bootstrap Boys of 2023 are a more experienced, more polished and more outspoken bunch – something reflected in the band’s new studio album, “Hungry & Sober,” being released this weekend.
“It (music) has become more in-depth in its conception and delivery. We have become better musicians as a result of playing 100-plus shows per year and also individual study of our instruments,” said Stilson, aka Big Jake Bootstrap.
“We went from a stand-up bass to electric bass in 2019, so that was different for sure. We have tried to proclaim our views on inclusivity – this music is for anyone that wants to listen to it – and just being more vocal about that in the field of country music may have made us a little more accessible.”
Recorded at yellow DOG Studios in Wimberley, Texas, on the Blanco River south of Austin, “Hungry & Sober” represents the next step on The Bootstrap Boys’ dusty trail, a collection of infectious, rootsy and even psychedelic gems overseen by award-winning producer David Percefull.
“It was an all-around game-changer and a gem of an experience,” the guitarist and singer said, noting the tracks reflect country music “from different perspectives. I’ve got some storytelling songs, I’ve got some heartfelt poetry, I’ve got some speculative prose, and then some lighthearted stuff, too.”
For this week’s edition of Local Spins on WYCE, Stilson spotlighted two tracks from the new recording – “City Livin’ ” and “Carharrt Cowboy.” Scroll down to listen to the songs and full radio show podcast, and watch the music video for “City Livin’ “ here (officially released today).
VIDEO: “City Livin’,” The Bootstrap Boys
SETTING THE STAGE FOR AN ‘ALL KILLER, NO FILLER’ ALBUM-RELEASE SHOW
To celebrate the album’s release, The Bootstrap Boys – Stilson, guitarist Nick Alexander, bassist Jonny Bruha and drummer Jeff Knol – will roll out live renditions of the new album at Founders Brewing Co. in Grand Rapids at 8 p.m. Saturday (along with some “favorite bangers” from the past). Beth Bombara Band opens the show.
As is The Bootstrap Boys tradition, expect “all killer, no filler” on Saturday, Stilson insisted.
“I’m asking everyone to wear their most cowboy clothes, so it will be an excellent time to show off your best Western fashion outfit,” Stilson said, noting that a couple of special guests will also be on board. “Beth Bombara and her band are coming in all the way from St. Louis to open the show.”
The album-release show will add to other band milestones: playing three WYCE Jammie Awards, winning the Jammie for best roots/Americana album for “New Beginnings,” performing at Wheatland Music Festival, gracing several showcases at this year’s South By Southwest in Austin and having the group featured recently on Billboards in the Grand Rapids area.
It also signals the launch of a busy spring and summer, starting with a Midwest tour that kicks off Wednesday (May 3) in Goshen, Ind.
“We are excited to play at some new venues to some new faces and hopefully make some new fans and friends,” said Stilson, noting the band will also play three Michigan music festivals this summer: Buttermilk Jamboree, Tamarack Music Festival and Wild Thyme Music Fest.
This week’s special WYCE Spring Fund Drive edition of Local Spins on WYCE on WYCE 88.1 FM and online at wyce.org also featured the debut of new music by Hickory Creek Revival, Signal Quartet, Adam Main and Michelle Billingsley, as well as classic tracks by Ralston Bowles and Organissimo. Listen to the full radio show here.
Support community radio by donating to the fund drive online here. All contributors will be placed in a drawing for a grand prize Electric Forest festival package. Second place will receive a special Local Spins gift pack that includes two tickets to Local Spins Fest on May 20 at Studio Park, along with T-shirts and other goodies.
PODCAST: Local Spins on WYCE (4/27/23)
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