Quill is the first release by the band Bison. Bison is a 7-piece band that kind of defies genre-pigeonholing, but I’m going to give it a try. They describe themselves as “Mountaintop Chamber Music” and have been described in the media as a mix of folk, bluegrass, Americana, and indie (indie-what the experts never say). I would call them “Progressive Folk,” as they have complex arrangements with diverse (although all acoustic) instruments, changing and non-standard meters and chords, and a definite story-telling bent lyrically.
I first heard of Bison when their album came through on NoiseTrade, which is where I get most of my new music these days. The Mountaintop Chamber music caught my eye, and I checked them out. What I found is what I described above – a fascinating, highly produced progressive folk music, with a spiritual bent that I wasn’t expecting. It turns out that the band leader and songwriter, Ben Hardesty, is a Pastor’s son who is still involved in his church. In fact, their first major concert was a benefit for a local food pantry.
Quickly, the band consists of Ben on lead vocals and guitar, Dan Hardesty on mandolin, banjo and vocals, Annah Hardesty on bells, mallet percussion and vocals, Andrew Benfante on reed organ and percussion, his brother Jay Benfante on percussion, Amos Housworth on cello and Teresa Tothero on violin. All the players switch around as necessary for the needs of each individual song.
I had an opportunity to see them live in concert at the recent HarborFest in Norfolk, and that sold me on the band. They are a fantastic live act, although the constantly changing nature of their music makes it hard to do typical rock concert stuff like clapping along. Even though, the audience was enthusiastic, shouting “Ho!” during the shanty-like chorus of one of the songs.
Here are some interesting links:
Some videos on their Vimeo page
Their Facebook page and
Oh, yes, you can download their album here: Bison
Check them out and leave a generous tip!