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The Hackensaw Boys build on their success one tour stop at a time
Charlottesville-based band the Hackensaw Boys will perform
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BY MATT CAMERON
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You may not know it yet, but the Hackensaw Boys are big.
The Charlottesville-based bluegrass/folk-rock/whatever-you-want-to-label-them outfit has become one of a handful of bands out there that have been able to transcend musical genres successfully.
The band will perform tonight at the State Theatre in Falls Church, and it'll roll through Fredericksburg tomorrow for a show at The Loft.
They might sound bluegrass, but the Hackensaws draw their sound from influences far more diverse than that, as band member Jesse "Baby J." Fiske will tell you.
"I do run across a lot of folks who, if it's got fiddle and banjo, then it's bluegrass," he said.
"The definition [of bluegrass] has become stretched tremendously since Bill Monroe coined the term with his guys. I used to be more strict about not being a bluegrass band, but being more old-time."
Yet, Fiske added, "We're not really an old-time band either. As long as we speak to someone, it doesn't really matter what the genre is."
To understand this musical diversity, one has to look back through the band's long history to see where exactly they came from.
When the Hackensaw Boys began playing in the streets of Charlottesville in the fall of 1999, the band comprised four members who were firmly rooted in bluegrass music.
Over time, however, they morphed into a band even more complex than words can describe. The band also grew in size as well as musical style. At its peak, the Hackensaw Boys had 12 members. Since then, however, the group has shrunk to six members who appear to be dedicated to the band's long-term future.
Only one original member, Robert "Mahlon" Bullington, remains. But the band's sound remains unique and intriguing.
It was a seemingly minor addition that set the band, quite literally, on the road to success, said Fiske. The acquisition of a 1964 GMC touring coach allowed the Hackensaws to begin touring and expanding their influence in the music scene.
"We kind of had this panoramic view of the world, and that was a pretty nice way to roll," said Fiske. "It was probably one of my most romantic memories."