Music » Livewire

The Hackensaw Boys

With Pete McDonald and One Dollar Hat. Wednesday, January 24, at the Beachland.

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Taking their cues from punk, folk, and bluegrass, the Hackensaw Boys defy simple tags. "While it's true that we try to bring a punk ethic, sensibility, and spirit to our performance, we are most easily classified as a secular gospel band," explains mandolinist Rob Bullington [a.k.a. Mahlon Hackensaw]. "I think what we're trying to get across is the punk rock ethics of honesty and integrity."

Much like the Pogues -- Brits who invented Celtic punk back in the '80s -- the Hackensaw Boys play American roots music with an energy and flair that's generally reserved for amplified endeavors. Coming together in Charlottesville, Virginia, the collective began playing street corners, eventually touring the United States as well as Europe. But at the end of the day, Bullington says, the band will always get back to its roots. "A lot of times at the end of a show, we'll get down on the floor in a circle, so the people who are there can hear it without all the microphones and PA equipment."

While Bullington worries that it may be too cold for the band to play a Cleveland street corner on the fly, the Boys' date at the Beachland will give them the perfect opportunity to get closer to their fans. "We try to lift people's spirits," he says. "I think the one thing I can guarantee is that they'll feel better walking out than they did walking in."

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