For the past twenty years, Hackensaw Boys have been a hard-touring force of nature in the American roots music world, bringing a punk ferocity to their stringband base and a powerful sensitivity to their ballad roots. Operating more as a collective than a band, Hackensaw Boys were around before the O Brother craze kickstarted Americana, back in the old alt-country days.
With all this history, it shook up bandleader and lead singer David Sickmen when long-time band member Ferd Moyse let him know that he was leaving the band in 2018. Sickmen’s a man who survived throat surgery to save his voice and endured any number of hardships over two decades on the road, but nothing hits harder than a crisis of faith for a man whose used his own indomitable will to push past every obstacle.
Sickmen, who said he’s to fargone to stop, formed up a brand-new band – Beau Dodson (“charismo”, percussion), Chris Stevens (bass), Caleb Powers (fiddle, banjo, mandolin, vocals) – drawing from no shortage of talent in the group’s pool of musical friends and compatriots. Keeping their roots close to home in Lynchburg, VA, Hackensaw Boys have a new EP, A Fireproof House of Sunshine, coming out on June 21, 2019 with their label Free Dirt Records. The EP’s title nods to Sickmen’s fiery new purpose, and his wish to build something that endures.
Retreating to the Charlottesville studio of co-producer Rob Evans (Dave Matthews Band), Hackensaw Boys cut the new EP in just four days. These five new songs showcase the band’s graceful maturation and feel more timeless than timely, in no small part due to Sickmen’s most deeply cultivated songwriting to date.
Today, Ghettoblaster has the pleasure of premiering “Pass Unloving Eyes” today. This is what Sickmen had to say about it:
“This is an older song that I wrote. It had been there for a long time but just hadn’t crystalized. The chorus came to me one day and I said, there it is! Finally! It’s a song about how we all share the same stuff. I think it’s pretty relatable. I guess it was meant to be, it kept showing up, like it was sitting in the corner asking me not to forget about it. I have other songs like that, but these days with my wife and three kids trying to make ends meet, I don’t sit around as much trying to work out songs, there’s not enough time in the day. It’s nice to use those songs from the past. There’s a little bit of songwriter guilt like I should be able to bust out something fresh. But it’s kind of a blessing to have those old notebooks.”