I’m really looking forward to this self-titled release from Austin’s punkgrass band Whiskey Shivers. Now the reveals of the Homer & Jethro-inspired cover for the album ahs amped up teh anticipation.
I’ve yet to catch these boys live but I’ll make up for that when I catch a NorTex stop.
From the release:
“Whiskey Shivers isn’t just the five of us on stage, it’s everybody in the room,” (frontman and fiddle master Bobby) Fitzgerald says. “We try to bring everybody into the moment and get them to realize there’s no wall between us and the crowd. We’re all in this together, and we’re all here to have a good time. We’ll do our best to facilitate it, but it takes all of us to make it happen. When you start to feel that, you can’t help but feel a little attachment and become invested in the show. You realize, ‘Oh, I’m here to have good time too!'”
Despite their joyful demeanor, the guys in Whiskey Shivers aren’t pretending that life is always easy. Far from it, Fitzgerald explains. Their new self-titled album, out September 23 and produced by fellow roots music boundary-pusher Robert Ellis, is heavy with traditional bluegrass themes and imagery lamenting universal struggles – work, pain, sin, regret and death.
It’s in the contrast where Whiskey Shivers’ music shines. They infuse their songs with punk rock energy and a darkly comical light-heartedness, stretching the bluegrass genre to fit whatever they feel is right. For them, being happy is a conscious choice, and making fun of life’s struggles is part of their philosophy.
“We’re all going through s**t all the time. We recognize that life’s tough,” Fitzgerald says. “We try to write songs that recognize the hard times that we all share. When you put your problems out on the table where everyone can see them, it doesn’t really have the same power over you any more, and you can start to acknowledge it, separate yourself from it, and go on with your life. Try to take a night where you can forget about your problems and just feel good, have a good time with your friends, make new friends, and be part of a little community for a while.”
That sort of musical honesty is what brought together the ragtag group of string players from small towns around the country to Austin, TX, where Whiskey Shivers was formed when stand-up bassist Andrew VanVoorhees answered a dubious Craiglist ad from a man named “Bob” looking to form a bluegrass band.
The full lineup now consists of Bobby Fitzgerald (vocals, fiddle) from Dundee, NY, Andrew VanVoorhees (bass, vocals) from Prineville, OR, Joe Deuce (washboards) from Vider, TX, Jeff “Horti” Hortillosa (vocals, guitar) from Middlesboro, KY, and James Bookert (banjo) from Georgetown, TX.
Whiskey Shivers will hit the road hard this summer and fall, including sets at the Americana Music Festival in Nashville and a string of dates with the Legendary Shack Shakers. See below for a full list of dates.
Fitzgerald admits that it can sometimes seem impossible to maintain such a high level of energy night after night on the road. “Well, it can seem that way, up until the moment the show starts,” he says. “We could have a really tough day, driving through bad weather on no sleep, feeling like s**t, the sound is terrible, or whatever else is going on that day. And then as soon as we start playing, it all just kind of falls away. All of the sudden we’re having a good time again, and the momentum carries itself. That’s why we’re doing this, because we love it.”
7/31 – Austin, TX @ Holy Mountain
9/3 – Lexington, KY @ Cosmic Charlies #
9/4 – Louisville, KY @ Zanzabar #
9/5 – Newport, KY @ Southgate House #
9/6 – Columbus, OH @ Rumba Café #
9/7 – Detroit, MI @ Magic Stick #
9/9 – Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom #
9/10 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Club Café #
9/11 – Brooklyn, NY @ Knitting Factory #
9/12 – Cambridge, MA @ The Middle East #
9/13 – Asbury Park, NJ @ Asbury Lanes #
9/14 – Lancaster, PA @ Chameleon Club #
9/15 – Washington, DC @ Black Cat #
9/16 – Asheville, NC @ Grey Eagle
9/18 – Nashville, TN @ Americana Music Festival
9/19 – Fort Wayne, IN @ Brass Rail
9/20 – Elgin, IL @ Second Space
9/25 – Houston, TX @ Continental Club
9/26 – Austin, TX @ Scoot Inn
9/27 – Arlington, TX @ Levitt Pavilion
9/30 – Lafayette, LA @ Blue Moon Saloon
10/3 – Charlotte, NC @ Evening Muse
10/4 – Mt. Pleasant, SC @ Grove at Patriots Point
10/5 – Atlanta, GA @ Eddie’s Attic
10/6 – Knoxville, TN @ Barleys
10/9 – New York, NY @ Mercury Lounge
10/10 – Buffalo, NY @ Sportsmans Tavern
10/11 – Grand Rapids, MI @ Founders Brewing Co
10/15 – Nashville, TN @ Loveless Barn
10/16 – Ozark, AR @ Mulberry Mountain
10/17 – Tulsa, OK @ Shrine
10/18 – Maryville, MO @ The Palms Bar and Grill
10/21 – Ann Arbor, MI @ The Ark
10/22 – Chicago, IL @ Schubas
10/24 – Minneapolis, MN @ Lee’s Liquor Lounge