“Less is more.” That’s the mantra that Rev. Chitwood Hammaker, brothers Noah and Justin Crowther, and Kelly Ravin deployed as they converged from a honky-tonk in Burlington, Vermont, to create Waylon Speed.
Ever since Waylon Speed formed in April 2009, the four-piece brotherhood of family and past friends has toured nationally and collected fans like empties at a pig roast in support of their albums: the debut, Georgia Overdrive; their two-disc sophomore set, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades; and their latest effort, The Boots EP.
The press has called Waylon Speed “gas on the fire of the current music scene” and “heavy, fiery country rock, for those who like their punk rock with some twang in it – but also appreciate high quality, intelligent songwriting.”
Ask Waylon Speed what it seeks from its stained-blue-collar, straight-up-from-the-underground rock, and the answer is simple: make people happy. The evidence is at their aim-to-please shows, where audience connection is a priority.
Waylon Speed has shared bills with: Jane’s Addiction, Clutch, Little Feat, Reba McEntire, Elvis Costello, Primus, and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals.
Waylon Speed’s influences are Motorhead, Fugazi, The Mother Hips, The Drive-By Truckers, and Frank Zappa. Waylon Speed’s influences are not mainstream music.
‘Course, if the guys had to be someone else in another band, they would choose either Kris Kristofferson (Kelly), Willie Nelson (Noah), Johnny Cash (Justin), or Waylon Jennings (The Reverend).
Welcome to Waylon Speed.
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Waylon Speed is:
•Rev. Chitwood Hammaker – guitars, vocals, van mechanic, gear modification specialist
•Justin Crowther – drums, vocals, tattooer, comic relief
•Kelly Ravin – guitars, vocals, lap steel, gig-booker, can drive the longest without taking a piss
•Noah Crowther – bass, vocals, band face, comfort consultant
They all prefer hair and beards.
Kelly Ravin - Guitars/Handmade and Creston
Noah Crowther - Bass/Creston
Justin Crowther - Drums/Yamaha-Slingerland
Reverend Chitwood Hammaker - Guitars/Gretsch/Blue Belly
The Boots EP 2011
Horseshoes and Hand Grenades 2011
Georgia Overdrive 2010
Waylon Speed self titled LP 2009
Live shows on Internet archive:
Waylon Speed Live w/ Little Feat, Higher Ground Ballroom 1/14/10
Waylon Speed Live on WRUV 90.1FM
Waylon Speed Live @ Momo's. Austin, TX 12/19/09
Radio airplay on the Radiator, 105.9 FM, Burlington.
Radio Airplay on Champ 101.3 FM Burlington,VT
Radio Play on Farm Fresh Radio 102.9 FM
A Little Bit Country
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A Little Bit Country Waylon Speed take off By John Flanagan [04.25.12] Outside Waylon Speed [...A Little Bit Country
Waylon Speed take off
By John Flanagan [04.25.12]
Outside Waylon Speed ’s practice loft in a Williston warehouse, airtight country-metal songs waft into the street. Inside, a black-and-white photograph of Hank Williams fills an entire wall, the country legend peering between two stacks of amplifiers as a shirtless Kelly Ravin  cracks a 27th-birthday Budweiser.
His band is rehearsing for an upcoming tour and a release party for their third full-length album, Valance, at the Higher Ground Showcase Lounge in South Burlington. That show will also feature Burlington punks Rough Francis  and Speed bassist Noah Crowther’s acoustic duo, Rabid Cobra.
Waylon Speed rose from the ashes after the demise of popular local bands Lucy Vincent and Chuch. Ravin, who sings and plays guitar, says he was on tour in the Caribbean with Lucy Vincent in 2008 when he reached a boiling point.
“It didn’t end pretty,” he says of his departure.
After a year of playing solo shows around town and taking his Kelly Ravin Trio on cross-country tours, the musician met up with Chuch members Chad Hammaker and Justin and Noah Crowther at a Honky-Tonk Tuesday session at Radio Bean. They were seeking an ax man to round out their posse.
“Kelly was just an unbelievable fit,” Hammaker says. “I had never played in a band with another guitarist without butting heads.”
Ravin, who calls his and Hammaker’s sound “guitarmonics,” agrees.
“Everyone’s got an ego; there’s no getting around it,” he says. “But all of ours just disappear when Waylon Speed play together.”
They named themselves after Hammaker’s son, Waylon, who, after watching the movie Speed Racer, decided to rename himself.
It didn’t take long for Waylon Speed to start gigging beyond Vermont, including in west Texas, where their mix of country twang and metal is a natural fit. Noah Crowther recalls an older woman approaching them after a show in Austin to say, “Y’all are way more Texas than any of these boys down here. Not bad for a bunch of Yanks!”
“Yeah, we do really well in Texas,” Ravin says. “It’s just hard to get there.”
Though they’ve had their share of van problems, the band members pride themselves on never missing a show thanks to their DIY know-how — both Noah Crowther and Hammaker are auto mechanics. Their respect for the handmade extends to their instruments, too: Ravin’s Telecaster-style guitar and Noah Crowther’s P-Bass-esque bass were made by Burlington artisan guitar luthier Creston Lea. Ravin’s father built his amplifier, and both of the band’s guitarists make pedals for themselves.
Another notable, if less musically inclined, construct is a ball of fireworks the band lit in the van while driving through Kentucky.
“It was like a cannonball of bullshit fireworks,” Justin Crowther remembers. After throwing the blazing flambeau from the moving van, the band watched in horror as “a fire truck circus” whizzed by the truck stop where they laid low until the blaze was snuffed.
Though waggish humor is an obvious and important aspect of the band’s appeal, an earnestness is at the head of Speed’s style and sound.
“This band means the world to all four of us,” Noah says. “It’s the end-all, be-all of what the fuck we do.”
In each of Valance’s 10 songs, that dedication and talent is evident. Ben Collette engineered the album last October at Phish’s Barn recording studio outside Burlington. The Barn’s open-room setup allowed the musicians to play together while recording, capturing a live-show sound.
“We’re a live band,” Noah Crowther says. “That’s our thing.”
Collette recorded Speed onto two-inch tape, transferred it to Pro Tools, then mixed it back onto tape, which, Noah adds, “is about as analog as it gets these days.”
Special guests on Valance include Joe Cleary on fiddle, Brett “the Ghost” Lanier on pedal steel and Adam Frehm on lap steel guitar.
Speed write their songs collaboratively. “Silver and Gold,” an albu
Shaking Off the Rust
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"Go catch speedwestern revivalists Waylon Speed at Nectar’s this Friday. The band hits the road late..."Go catch speedwestern revivalists Waylon Speed at Nectar’s this Friday. The band hits the road later this month and won’t be back for a while. Plus, the show might just whet your appetite for their debut album, which should hit stores by Christmas!."
-Dan Bolles, music editor
Waylon Speed - Horseshoes & Hand Grenades Review
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It's tempting to describe Waylon Speed just in terms of their influences but such analysis doesn't d...It's tempting to describe Waylon Speed just in terms of their influences but such analysis doesn't do justice to the irascible spirit in this music, a genuine passion that courses equally vigorously through both halves of this package.
And while this band might not want to admit it, there are more than a few moments during the course of Horseshoes and Hand Grenades that are as reminiscent of contemporary country forbears The Eagles and cowpunkers The Long Ryders, not to mention, during the course of "Amplifier Switches" or "Santa Rose," Neil Young & Crazy Horse in their earliest days.
The quartet express themselves with just about as much eloquence unencumbered by lyrics so it's within the few seconds of the "Intro" to Hand Grenades, before guitar chords cascade from "Lassiter" that it occurs to wonder how much of this instrumental content might've been interwoven within the preceding baker's dozen songs. Of course, the album might more closely resemble one of those ponderous prog rock concept albums and if there's one influence Waylon Speed don't share it's any debt to Yes or Emerson Lake &Palmer: read the titles to these tunes and know these guys are cowboys not dandies-- "Shadows on the Sage," "Under the Cottonwoods."
"Deception Pass" sounds out of place as an outtake from the companion piece to this otherwise all instrumental set which suggests Waylon Speed must've listened to more than a little of The Minutemen or The Dead Kennedys when cutting their teeth as a unit. Clearly, they're not averse to throwing anything that occurs to them into the mix, and in addition, the tongue in cheek aspect of their name weaves in and out of the music on this double cd set: the clarity in the sound of two electric guitars, bass and drums might overshadow the pensive lyrics of tunes like "Bent Carousel" or the title song were it not for the prominence of the vocals that contain a drawl as long as the twang of the guitars is loud.
To say Waylon Speed wear their collective heart on their sleeve makes them sound more sensitive than (perhaps) they really are, but there's also a defensive side to them that recalls the outlaw country movement of the Seventies spearheaded by Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. And by the time "The Minor Blues" begins, in all its ominous glory, the heavy rock more obviously influenced by British bands of the late Sixties reveals, in turn, something of a Lynyrd Skynyrd connection; oddly, this iconoclasm only makes them more lovable, the listener willing to forgive the open-faced statement "I sold my soul for rock and roll"(surely they know there's a Black Sabbath record by that name?!) if only because it's balanced by lines like this from "Street Lights": "I look in the mirror and get real sick."
If the music weren't so edgy, it wouldn't so accurately reflect the prolific nature of Waylon Speed. The double set comes just about twelve months after their debut and they've already recorded another EP of a handful of new compositions. Ultimately it's less productive to analyze this music than just feel it because that puts you on the same frequency as these young musicians.
Georgia Overdrive Album Review
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"Equal parts Merle Haggard and Motorhead" "Noah Crowther, here and throughout the record, who tru..."Equal parts Merle Haggard and Motorhead"
"Noah Crowther, here and throughout the record, who truly stands out. The songwriter seems reinvigorated and gives an inspired performance"
"Opener “Leave Me Blue” finds the boys in classic form. Hammaker, long one of the area’s more underrated axe men, shreds fiery, twang-metal licks. Justin Crowther, as always, is a paragon of metronomic precision"
"But on the disc’s second track, “Bobby’s Car,” Ravin puts his singular stamp on the proceedings. The veteran songwriter sounds self-assured and muscular, his reedy drawl a potent foil to Noah Crowther’s plainspoken delivery"
"Ravin and Hammaker also complement each other well as guitarists, nowhere more than on the instrumental “Running Colors.” The song shifts — and sometimes grinds — gears with alarming intensity. At the song’s metalicious breakdown, an unleashed Hammaker seems fully in his element.
The album closes with “Stump,” a tune that perhaps embodies the evolution from Chuch to Waylon Speed, and all within the span of about two minutes. It is a smart, concise and slyly crafted punkabilly song"
CD review: Waylon Speed, 'Georgia Overdrive'
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"Georgia Overdrive" has plenty of the hard-driving, gas-fueled, open-road songs such as the frenetic..."Georgia Overdrive" has plenty of the hard-driving, gas-fueled, open-road songs such as the frenetic "Hot Rod" and the instrumental "Running Colors." "The addition of Ravin to the mix, however, brings a little more of a dusty pop bent to the sound!"
"Tracks such as "Bobby's Car," "Drivin' Fast" and "This City" have a grungy, closing-time Americana vibe"
Big Honkin' Soundbites
"I say only this: giddyup." -Dan Bolles, music critic
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" Waylon Speed is one of the best twangy rock outfits going in town at the moment, but also because ..." Waylon Speed is one of the best twangy rock outfits going in town at the moment, but also because three-quarters of Waylon Speed once belonged to late, great truckstop rockers Chuch"
Interview at the Radiator 105.9FM Burlington
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Words by Nick Kramer. Photos by James Lockridge. On Wednesday, Burlington-based foursome Waylon S...Words by Nick Kramer. Photos by James Lockridge.
On Wednesday, Burlington-based foursome Waylon Speed dropped in on the Radiator Studios to play some tunes and give Sam the scoop on what they’ve got going on. The country-rocking crew of Rev. Chitwood Hammaker, Noah Crowther, Kelly Ravin, and Justin Crowther just released ‘The Boots EP’. They debuted the excellent 4-song set with a release party Thanksgiving weekend at the Rock ’n’ Roll Resort festival in Kershonksen, NY.
In addition to the EP, the band has already recorded a follow-up to their second album ‘Horseshoes and Hand Grenades’, and looks to drop their third full-length disc this coming March. Recording at Trey Anastasio’s legendary The Barn studio, Waylon Speed worked a grueling session schedule, but “walked away with big smiles on our faces.” Inspired by the aura of a place that seems to Noah, “created for good recording vibes,” the boys have great expectations for the record.
On the air, they played songs pulled from throughout their catalog, including some rocking numbers from ‘The Boots EP.’ Their songs run the gamut from a crooning, country-rock slow-burner with guest vocals from Lowell Thompson, to the quick-picking “Koi Pond”, which has Kelly and Chitwood trading red-hot licks over a kick-stomping honky-tonk backbeat.
Always playing shows in the Northeast, Waylon Speed are a central force of the home-town Burlington scene. As for favorite gigs outside the 802, Kelly and Noah look back to last summer’s Floyd Fest in Virginia, as well as raucous nights in Dover New Hampshire, where Noach boasts, “we’re like Kiss in Dover, for some reason.”
As they move towards the March album release, the band is hard at work planning their spring and summer tour dates, which will include a long run of West Coast shows, as well as a healthy trip around the summer festival circuit - a perfect fit for Waylon Speed, who have made stops at the past two Gatherings of the Vibes, as well as several other multi-day fetes.
You can find the ‘The Boots EP’ for sale at your online music vendor of choice (iTunes, CDBaby et al.) and for all things Waylon Speed be sure to stop by http://waylonspeed.blogspot.com
Waylon Speed plays original music but can, and will adapt to any venue. Dinner parties, stadiums, club/hall venues, outdoor festivals, small bars and punk rock shows in basements. Waylon speed will play to the room and keep the room.
PDF RiderWaylon Speed updated input list
There are no upcoming dates at this time.