Old country for folk men

Liquorbox brings back true country music covering songs from Johnny Cash and Hank Williams

Liquorbox played this year’s Muddy Roots Music Festival in Cookeville
Image supplied by: Supplied
Liquorbox played this year’s Muddy Roots Music Festival in Cookeville

Kingston-based Liquorbox defines themselves as true country — unlike Taylor Swift or Lady Antebellum.

“The stuff you hear on corporate radio called country music isn’t country music because it isn’t for the people, it isn’t by the people,” acoustic guitarist and vocalist J.T. Wisteard said.

“It’s basically business men and women writing songs for business men and women in order to make money.

“Being a roots music, being a folk music, country isn’t about that at all, it’s not about big business.”

Wisteard said even though they consider themselves a country band, Liquorbox has diverse influences.

“I would say it is country music,” he said. “We draw a lot as well [from] our backgrounds and our influences. All of us coming from punk rock scenes or metal scenes, you know just heavier music scenes — we do inject that sort of attitude and energy into the music.”

Liquorbox frequents as the Toucan Pub’s all-night band. Wisteard said the type of show they’re playing dictates the music.

“If we’re doing a night where we have bands supporting us, or maybe we’re supporting another band then you’re going to hear pretty much all original songs,” he said.

“If you’re coming out to an all night gig … you’re going to hear the originals plus the cover music.”

Wisteard said Liquorbox covers songs from musicians who define the true country scene.

“We’ll do the really old time stuff that has informed us, like Hank Williams, like Brian Young, like Ernest Tubb,” he said. “Then going up through the years, you know, you’re gonna hear Johnny Cash or Buck Owens.”

In August Wisteard started Who the Hell is Billy? — a music festival dedicated to hillbilly tunes. He said he hopes to make the festival an annual event.

“We can kind of see it grow in front of us,” he said. “It’s really cool to be starting something in this area that you know that’s happening worldwide, but really isn’t prevalent in this area yet.”

The band will head to Rebel Roots Studio in North Carolina to start recording a new album, set to be titled 6onna 6et 6one. It will be a large project with many guest performers, so the release date is undetermined.

But until then the band plans to continue playing shows. Wisteard said performing in a five-person band can be interesting. The lineup includes banjoist Nick Patterson, fiddler Al Duquette, mandolin and drummer Chris Macdonald and Upright bass player Jim-Bob.

“When you’re on long hauls like that, that are lasting, … it can get smelly, sometimes it can get a little tense, sometimes it can get a little bit too stupid for its own good,” he said.

“But we do consider each other family.”

Liquorbox plays the Toucan Pub tomorrow night at 9 p.m. and the Mansion on Nov. 17 at 8 p.m.


country, Hank Williams, Interview, Johnny Cash, Liquorbox, Toucan Pub

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