The Colonels formed as a touring band in 2007 in Northampton, MA. Andrew Bryan Smith and professional vagabond/ musician Peter Sohriakoff were the founding members. Their shared interests in music, muscle cars, and well-developed storylines resulted in The Colonels. They brought Sasha Starr, a dedicated francophone, on board in July of 2008.
The Colonels have recorded and produced two full-length records, showcased at CMJ, toured extensively with 100 shows in 2009/10, and shared the stage with Justin Townes Earle, Steven Kellogg, The Mountain Goats, The Nields and Mary Gauthier. Popmatters and American Songwriter have touted the Colonels. Yahoo Music, WRSI, WBUR, and WXOJ have been early adopters of the Colonels’ blend of well-developed storylines and gritty American music. The Colonels have a dedicated following in the Northeast and Pacific Northwest.
The Colonels began with a wild gambit. Andrew Bryan Smith, a hardcore troubadour, novelist, and urbanist from Nashville and Peter Sohriakoff, bassist and rock and roll archivist from Portland, Oregon, began to make music in 2007. The scene was Northampton, MA, a small City in the Connecticut River Valley that is both a college town and musical incubator. The sidewalks of Northampton have a way of bringing drifters with mutual interests together. Their shared interest in almost forgotten music, muscle cars, and well-developed storylines called for the formation of The Colonels. They began collaborating with the French-speaking Sasha Starr in July 2008.
In September of 2008 The Colonels released their first full-length recording, a ten song, self-titled LP. It was recorded by Dave Chalfant, who is most well known for his work with Erin McKeown, Stephen Kellogg and the Winterpills. His experience was a perfect fit for what was then The Colonels’ raw, almost primitive, devotion to recreating the sounds of vintage 1950s country music. The album, when it was released, garnered wild praise from local and national press, who likened it to a “slow-burn Appalachian Splendor.” The untamed mix of pedal steel, banjo, fiddle and electric guitar proved that The Colonels were not content to recreate golden-era country classics and hinted at a new range of musical expression as the band matured.
The band's sound has evolved significantly since their 2008 debut. A year of touring New England and meeting musicians from every end of the spectrum has led to a fresh batch of songs that celebrate The Colonels’ love of bare-knuckled neo-traditional American rock. The kernel of this nervy sound can be heard all throughout the band’s previous releases, but on their second release (September 2010), The Colonels give themselves over to it completely.
After two years and a 100 shows, the Colonels have made significant gains. Major breaks have included dates with seasoned musicians—The Mountain Goats, Justin Townes Earle, Marshall Crenshaw, Amy LaVere, Mary Gauthier and the Nields— and outstanding sets in some of the Northeast’s finest clubs- The Iron Horse, Toad, The Rodeo Bar, The Living Room.
The band tours as a trio and has gained respect for the strength of their song-writing and instrumentation.
In October The Colonels will be touring the Northeast to support their second LP. It’s a 12 song patchwork about strivers in small towns and the worlds they inhabit. Recording occurred in the winter of 2010 in a small barn in the frozen foothills of Western Massachusetts. The icy landscape and hushed soughing of winter branches were punctuated by the staccato burst of a brushfire that edged its way across the hillside during most of the band’s recording sessions. On quieter takes, a slow-burn woodsy smell drifted in and out of the studio. A year on the road. Short days and long nights. A hard place to land. Bicycles and Cigarettes. And a quiet fire somewhere uphill. The Colonels could not have made this record without these things.
Peter S - Bass and Accordian
Jason Eckerson - Drums / Percussion
Andrew Bryan Smith - Vocals, guitars, mandolin
2010 Big Night, Small Town
2008 Drew Hickum & The Colonels
2007 Ministry of Folk EP
"All-American Rock." CMJ Music Marathon 2010
All-American southern rock with melodic guitars and great vocals.
Ken Mauri (Pedro The Lion, The Mammals)
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“Drew knows how to write songs… his clear, crafted lyrics stand out from the pack…It’s the freight-t...“Drew knows how to write songs… his clear, crafted lyrics stand out from the pack…It’s the freight-train-birthing buffalo in his voice that makes the songs hit you in your heart"
Album review 10/2008
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For fans of straight-up country music, there would seem to be but two options for new releases: the ...For fans of straight-up country music, there would seem to be but two options for new releases: the glossy pink pop sounds of the mainstream, or arted-up and unrecognizable. Of course this is a false choice. There are loads of artists who still adhere to traditional country songcraft without resorting to studio tricks or obfuscations: Steve Earle, Robbie Fulks, the whole Bloodshot roster. Add Drew Hickum & the Colonels to that list.
The self-titled debut from this western New England outfit is full of the pure thrills that great country hooks and sounds provide. From the irreverent opener “Don’t Believe In Love”, to the brash war story “The Army”, Hickum’s steely voice shoulders arrangements of banjo, briskly strummed guitar, and pedal steel courtesy of guest Bruce Tull (Scud Mountain Boys, Lo Fine). A 12-song set clocking in at just over a half hour, these songs get in and get out, but not before leaving their mark. Hickum’s lyrics and melodies will no doubt draw comparisons to early Ryan Adams, and that’s a good thing. The work of both exudes confidence in and love of a well-constructed and deeply felt country song.
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No matter you you lick em or stick em, Drew Hickum and the Colonels have a good time. And I'd like t...No matter you you lick em or stick em, Drew Hickum and the Colonels have a good time. And I'd like to apologize for that statement, but I'm giddy with lack of sleep, and rhymes like that simply cannot be passed up. This crew makes quite fine music--pleasant, rollicking, banjo-fueled fun with a decided Southern accent. It ends up somewhere between the Old 97s, Ricky Skaggs and some kind of slow-burn Appalachian splendor.
It's almost a cliche to associate Southern-flavored music with road trips, but this album is begging to go into the CD changer for a voyage. You should really give them a listen over at the ole Myspace.
Good Press from Mountain Goats Show
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Opening local band Drew Hickum and the Ministry of Folk (self-described as "gangster folk") was a pl...Opening local band Drew Hickum and the Ministry of Folk (self-described as "gangster folk") was a pleasant surprise. I was into their Nashville-inspired southern sound from the first song I walked in on. Drew, Lisa Marie, Adam and Peter Sohriakoff added bits of banjo, acoustic and electric guitar into the mix and to my surprise were joined by the familiar face of Ben Laine of Fancy Trash on drums. Drew has played several venues around here (with more to come) and even though it was only their second show playing with Ben, they were incredibly solid.
Standout to me was their bluegrass song "Sarah Flynne" played with such quick and jaunty intensity that I think most of them were panting by the end. If I was sipping sweet tea and had a straw hat on, I would have felt right at home. Busy guys and gal that they are, they are playing the Sierra Grille with Fancy Trash next week on March 27th and the Iron Horse on Friday, March 21. Western Mass needs a good dose of Southern rock every once in awhile.
--Heather Rush, blog.masslive.com
Andrew...sounded like maybe how Damien Jurado sounded when he was young.
We're always writing new material, but we perform two 45 minutes set, usually. No covers.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.