IF YOU GO:
Who: Hayshaker Jones with Bob’s Country Bunker
When: 11 p.m. Saturday
Where: Cedars Lounge,
23 N. Hazel St., Youngstown.
Info: Call 330-743-6560
By John Benson
When you’re in a tear-in-your-beer musical outfit, there is perhaps no better accolade than being named the “Best Band To Drink To.”
Even though Cleveland-based outfit Hayshaker Jones received such a designation from a Rock Hall City weekly a few years back, the alt-country act — Amy Young (vocals), Clint Holley (vocals, guitar, harmonica), Bob Basone (bass), Jon Baughman (guitar), Tony Marinovic (drums) and Frank Matrka (pedal steel) — still is holding tight to the unlikeliest of compliments.
“It’s just a great band to have fun with and drink and dance around or do whatever you want to do,” said Young, a New Castle, Pa., resident who also performs in local group The Guilty Pleasures. “Stylistically, before I joined the band, we used to be pretty much classic country, which we still have quite a bit of that, but when I was added to the band, we had more harmony vocals and share leads. You have a mix of country and classic country, and not poppy country by any means. We don’t pattern ourselves on modern country. I get compared a lot to Patsy Cline quite a bit. I have a deeper voice, and that’s OK; that’s great. It could be worse.”
Like getting compared to, say, Shania Twain?
“Oh, God,” Young said, laughing. “I’ve had people request that, and we definitely won’t be doing that.”
Formed at the turn of the century by Holley, Hayshaker Jones initially was built around a love of classic-country and rock-based songwriting of artists such as Neil Young and The Rolling Stones. When Young arrived, her bluesy voice added a new wrinkle in the fold with rockabilly and blues becoming more prevalent. The act released two CDs — “The Neon Years” and “Life’s Ugly Circumstance” — and is known for tracks such as the bluesy “Under the Neon Moon” and the pedal-steel driven “Girl in this Town.”
Whatever momentum the band was experiencing, it came to an end two years ago when a divorce forced Young to move from Cleveland back to her native New Castle. At that point, the future of the group was uncertain.
“At first the band wasn’t going to stay together,” Young said. “Our bass and guitar player said if I wasn’t going to be in it then they weren’t going to be in it. Then we worked out a plan where we’d do shows a couple of times a year, and that seemed to work for us. So we said, ‘Let’s keep doing it.’ We all like each other in the band. There’s no egos or anything, and that’s difficult with six people.”
Suffice it to say, there seems to be a little bit of a buzz surrounding the reclusive Hayshaker Jones making its way back to Youngstown for a Saturday show at Cedars Lounge. Young said the group is looking forward to reconnecting with its Mahoning County fans.
“We have Bob’s Country Bunker opening, so they’ll kick off the night in an energetic fashion,” Young said. “We hope to keep that energy going, but we’re definitely a band that has some rock songs but also some slower songs. It’s a nice mix of stuff, and we’ll probably do a few Johnny Cash covers and a Patsy Cline song thrown in there, too.”
Just to confirm, no Shania Twain, right?
“No,” Young said, laughing, “No Shania Twain.”