Written by Daniel Barker
Nov 24, 2010 at 12:00 AM
ImageIn what is becoming an annual event on the eve of Thanksgiving, Austin’s The Band of Heathens came to McGonigel’s Mucky Duck for two SRO sold out shows for friends, family and dedicated Houston area fans. HMR has been on these guys since we were left speechless at Hayes Carll’s 2nd Stingaree Music Festival in April 2008 when they received a well deserved standing ovation in the formidable noon Sunday slot and we have continued to cover them all around the state from Jefferson to Galveston. This night I had the pleasure of sitting down with the group before the show for the second interview that HMR has done with BOH in 2010. Within the room, there was a level of comfort and holiday spirit that these multi-talented guys brought with them to the stage and played a great first set.

The Heathens are Colin Brooks-lap steel, Dobro, lead and rhythm guitar, lead and backing vocals; Ed Jurdi-piano, harmonica, lead and rhythm guitar; lead and backing vocals; Gordy Quist – lead and backing vocals, harmonica, lead and rhythm guitar, and tambourine; Seth Whitney-bass and backing vocals; John Chipman-drums. BOH is still touring to support their successful second studio album, “One Foot in the Ether” which hit No. 1 on the Americana Music Association Radio chart, spent two months at No. 1 on the Euro-Americana Radio chart and wound up at No. 8 on the AMA’s Top 100 Albums of 2008 list. That album also earned the band an Americana Music Association Honors & Awards nomination for 2009 New Emerging Artist of the Year. Even more amazing is that with a five-album record deal offer from one of the major-independent record labels on the table, the Band of Heathens opted to release “One Foot in the Ether” as their second full studio album on their own BOH Records.

Making this night extra special was that in two days from this event, BOH was scheduled to go back to the place where it all began, Momo’s in Austin to celebrate the 5th anniversary of what was to become. Gathering these humble and down-to-earth guys in The Muck Duck’s wine room, I was told that the date of 11-26-2005 was roughly where the guys have decided the conception of an “idea” was conceived – to take the standard weekly singer-songwriter song swaps and turn them into an ensemble show fully accompanying each other.

The proudest moment they had in all those years was playing Austin City Limits in June 2009. They are also very proud of the fact they have stayed together this long being lead by 3 individual musicians that came together with a strong rhythm section and have continued to grow while still having fun playing music together – something that anyone who has seen BOH multiple times knows as they never play a song the same way twice and often will totally create a completely fresh arrangement in the meantime before they make it back around.

I had a lot of questions about the next studio album. I was told that it is very close to being in the can and that it is sounds nothing like either of the first two. Ray Wylie Hubbard produced the self titled debut so there is a self admitted “RWH swampy” feel to the CD. “One Foot in the Ether” was mainly self-produced with help from friend Mark Addison as the guys recorded ideas in between touring until they had 16 completed songs. The guys assured me they are working with a new producer on the disc due out Spring 2010.  I will leave just who that is for ya’ll to find out but it is going to be a great collaboration. That is something to keep an ear out for sure in 2011…

The guys are not playing many of the new songs live to keep things fresh for the release as many artists are doing these days. In the tech world we are living in today the whole album can wind up live on You Tube months before the release if you are playing it all live just spoiling the release. However, BOH has been releasing several new songs on their website for free download. Some are going to be on the new CD and some not. The last question I wanted to ask the band dealt with what was the last complete album they had listened to from start to finish. I knew the influences of this band ran deep and far reaching. In these IPod shuffle and playlist days it is interesting to me who these guys believe is worthy of that kinda time and effort. The guys have been listening to old Linda Ronstadt and Dr. John with some newer stuff too like Blind Pilot.

Once the guys made it to the stage it was about doing what they love. I can only say that every time I have seen these guys play over the last two and a half years, whatever the conditions, they have always showed innovation and improvement. The comfort and tightness is something to witness with longer and longer impromptu jams thrown into nearly every song now. Then there is the songbook these guys have put together. I mean I have sat thru both sets at The Mucky Duck on a two show night before and they did not play the same song twice and both sets blew the house away as I expect happened this night.

The set list for the early show this night consisted of:

1. Judas Scariot  Blues
2. Might Quinn
3. Jenny Was
4. Let Your Heart Not Be Troubled
5. Bumble Bee
6. Hangin’ Tree
7. What’s This World
8. I Ain’t Even Lonely
9. Somebody Tell The Truth
10. Maple Tears
11. 40 Days
12. Cornbread
13. White Freightliner Blues
14. Rehab Facility
15. Your Gonna Miss Me


1. Hey Rider

If you have never seen this band live you are denying yourself a true pleasure. HMR can testify that anywhere from a primetime show on Austin City Limits or at Houston’s House of Blues to a noon show at Houston’s Central Market or Anahuac’s Fin and Fowl Hunting Lodge these guys always play like there are 30,000 people there and it may be there last time to ever do it. We will continue to follow these guys as they continue doing things their way without apologies just like HMR. This is a truly talented fellowship that has not even come close to peaking. Just you wait and see. The sky is the limit for these guys. Until next time, I will see you out supporting live music.