Billy Two Shoes
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Billy Two Shoes

Columbus, Ohio, United States | SELF

Columbus, Ohio, United States | SELF
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"Band with local roots nets award for social change Read more: Gallipolis Daily Tribune"

The first Central Ohio Social Entrepreneur of the Year Awards were held recently in Columbus, and a Gallipolis native and his bandmates were the recipients of one of the two top awards of the evening.

Read more: Gallipolis Daily Tribune - Gallipolis Daily Tribune


"Billy Two Shoes wins Social Entrepreneur of the Year for central and Southeastern Ohio"

The first Central Ohio Social Entrepreneur of the Year Awards were held May 23, 2013 at the Gateway Film Center. Nearly 100 Rotarians voted on the winners from this year’s six finalists: Billy Two Shoes; CivitasNow; Freedom a la Cart; Freshbox Catering; Fulcrum Creatives; and The Greener Grocer.
Billy Two Shoes and Freedom a la Cart were each voted as Social Entrepreneur of the Year.
An award born out of a partnership between the Rotary of Central and Southeast Ohio and The Metropreneur, the Social Entrepreneur of the Year looks to award those whose businesses serve the community in a greater way. - The Metropreneur


"Band with Rural roots thrives on feeding others"

What began five years ago as a personal challenge for two musicians to record an album has resulted in four full-length albums of original material and more than $25,000 donated to food pantries in rural Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia.

The four-man band Billy Two Shoes performs about 30 concerts a year, donating all the proceeds from its booking fees, compact disc sales and marketing items to designated food pantries.

Band members are Sean Jenkins, 33, of Hilliard; James Gettles, 38, of Dublin; Josh Coy, 38, of the Discovery District in Columbus; and Josh Lawson, 33, of Hamilton in suburban Cincinnati.

All four migrated to central Ohio from economically depressed areas, giving each personal experience with fighting hunger.

Jenkins was raised in Zanesville, Gettles is from Gallipolis, Coy is from Youngstown and Lawson is from Fairfield.

The group uses the tagline, "Feedin' Folks Since 2008," on all its albums and marketing and promotional materials.

This year, proceeds from Columbus area shows will benefit St. John's Food Pantry in Olde Town East.

"All the proceeds are donated to food pantries. ... It's a great feeling for us to do what we enjoy and to help people who are in need," said Gettles, one of the co-founders of Billy Two Shoes.

The band originated in 2008 when Gettles and former member Jason Cowans sought to record an album.

"It was really for no other reason than to just say we did it," Gettles said.

The album, Appalachian Memoirs, was circulated among family and friends and sold at concerts the duo performed.

While supporting the first album, Gary Harden, originally from Hinton, W.Va., began playing with Billy Two Shoes.

Harden, who lives in North Carolina, occasionally plays with the band today, but remains an integral part of the group, mixing and mastering the band's subsequent three albums.

Jenkins, who was added to the band's lineup in 2010, describes the group's sound as alternative country steeped in bluegrass.

"It's been called 'hillbilly Pink Floyd,' too," Jenkins said.

Building on the tide of improving musicianship and growing numbers at gigs, Billy Two Shoes recorded New Shoes in 2009. It featured such improvised instruments as a flute made from a PVC pipe and a penny whistle.

One of the tracks was a poem written by Gettles' great-grandfather and set to music.

"I have the piece of paper the poem is written on," he said.

Gettles' great-grandfather gave the poem, titled A Poem for a Pig, to his daughter, Gettles' grandmother.

"It was stuffed into a piggy bank and was on my grandmother's shelf. I was never allowed to touch it," Gettles said.

The band's current lineup jelled during preparations to record a third album, Full Breakfast, completed in 2010.

Coy, a banjo player joined in 2009; lead vocalist Lawson joined in 2010. Lawson also plays a guitar, harmonica and mandolin.

Gettles asked Jenkins, who plays slide guitar, to join the band after talking with him during a set break.

Local interest in the live performances of Billy Two Shoes has grown in proportion to the group's popularity on the Internet as fellow musicians sought or accepted opportunities to perform on Full Breakfast.

"We had musicians from Colorado, North Carolina and the Netherlands play with us ... and they did it free in order to help us send more money to food pantries," Gettles said.

In 2012, Billy Two Shoes recorded and released a 10-track album Bourbon for Beans, an acoustic recording completed in the studio in a single day.

All four members share in composing the lyrics and music for their recordings. The group occasionally plays a cover song live, but all four albums are original material.

When not performing, members of Billy Two Shoes have day jobs.

Gettles is employed at Audio Power Labs, Jenkins works on graphic web designs at Roy Hobbs Baseball, Coy is a graduate student at the Ohio State University and Lawson is a teacher and coach at Little Miami schools in suburban Cincinnati.

Billy Two Shoes' next scheduled performance is at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 13, at the Rendezvous Lounge, 5835 Sawmill Road in Dublin.

For more information about the band, visit billytwoshoes.com. - This Week


"Feedin Folks with Music"

It started as a challenge for founders James Gettles and Jason Cowans---record an album in 24 hours. What followed has been a four year effort to feed the hungry through music with the band, Billy Two Shoes.

After completing their challenge with the first B2S album “Appalachian Memoirs”, Gettles and Cowans (who have roots in Gallia County and Logan, W.Va.) made the decision that any sales and profits from their music would be used to help feed those back home.

Over the next several years, more band members were added and musicians from all over joined in to contribute to the albums. All of the musicians play for free to allow proceeds to go to the “Feedin’ Folks” cause. B2S now consists of Gettles, Josh Lawson, Josh Coy and Sean Jenkins. While no longer with the band, Cowans appears on the first three albums.

Why hunger?

“There are quite a few food pantries in our area that have a tough time keeping their shelves stocked. They are pretty efficient at getting food for pennies on the dollar, so it doesn't take much to feed a lot of people,” said Jenkins. “We felt our dollars could have the most impact helping food pantries feed folks in our local communities.”

Many people may question how the band members can live if all their profits go toward the “Feedin’ Folks” cause. It’s simple. They all have “day jobs”.

“We are all fortunate enough to have regular jobs to pay the bills and put gas in the tank to get to our gigs,” said Jenkins. “That allows us to give away everything we make playing music. James works in electronics, Lawson is a teacher, Coy is a facilities manager and I do graphic design.”

If you’ve never been to a B2S show, Jenkins said the audience can expect to have a good time listening to acoustic style music.

“We are all really friendly folks and we try to create an enjoyable laid back atmosphere when we play,” said Jenkins. “We do mention where our proceeds go, but we try not to overdo it. Typically when people go out to see live music, they are looking to have a fun entertaining evening and that is what we do our best to deliver.”

Pulling from a wide variety of influences ranging from punk to country to classic rock, the band covers artists like Johnny Cash, Eric Clapton, The Beatles, Social Distortion, Hank Williams, The Avett Brothers, Tom Petty.

“As far as our original tunes go, I think someone referred to our sound as "trailer park swamp stomp",” said Jenkins. “Kind of a slinky, twangy mix of all our influences played on acoustic instruments including banjo, dobro, guitar, mandolin and upright bass and occasionally pedal steel.”

Since 2008, the band has raised over $17,000 for area food pantries, with approximately $4,000 going to the Gallia County Outreach Center.

Recently the band announced they will be playing at the Appalachian Uprising in Scottown, Ohio, May 31 through June 2.

“It is going to be a really fun weekend with lots of great bluegrass acts including Ricky Skaggs, The Punch Brothers, The Infamous Stringdusters, Mountain Heart and more,” said Jenkins. “We will be down there all weekend playing on stage, pickin' around the campfire and enjoying all of the great bands.”

As far as their supporters over the last four years, there are too many to name.

“We are thankful to all of the nice people who have donated to our cause over the years. From the biggest donation to the smallest, every little bit helps feed folks,” said Jenkins. “We call it drips and drops... you add up all those drips and drops and the next thing you know you have a full bucket, or in this case a lot of full bellies.”

Billy Two Shoes will perform at Uncle Kenny’s Saloon in Gallipolis on Saturday, April 21 starting at 8:30 p.m.

For more information on Billy Two Shoes, you can find them on Facebook or visit www.billytwoshoes.com for news on an album release date and upcoming shows.
- Gallia Hometown Herald


"Interview With Billy Two Shoes, a band dedicated to feeding people."

“ There ain’t a one of us Billies that’s afraid of a hard day’s work, and ain’t a one of us that minds givin’ it all away.” How many bands do you know that can honestly make a statement like that? When Billy Two Shoes says it they are not just blowing smoke. As of June 5th 2011 these guys donated more than $10,000 to food pantries in Ohio and surrounding states! Using money from their albums Appalachian Memoirs, New Shoes and Full Breakfast as well as playing local shows they are paying it forward in a big way.
I was as happy as a puppy with two, uhm, tails, that James Gettles, one of the founding members, and the band took the time to answer some questions for me.
Deb: Tell me about “the weekend” that Billy Two Shoes was born.
BTS:We had been talkin’ for awhile about tryin’ to cut a record in a weekend, writin’ a bunch of new tunes and recordin’ it all in one shot. We wanted to make some music that talked a bit of our times and experiences down on the river in Gallia County. James (Gettles) and Big J (Cowans)gathered up the instruments, started on Thursday evenin’, framed up the tunes and took a swing. We spent ’round 15 hours a day for the next three days cuttin’ tracks. (Dan) Rees stopped through for some harmonica on Saturday afternoon, and we wrapped ‘er up by Sunday night. It was a kind of an organized mayhem of sorts. We knew what we wanted to do, but really had no idea if we could pull it off or what it would sound like in the end. We got what we got and we ran with it.
Deb: Where does the band’s name come from?
BTS: Billy was actually a reference to what Big J calls goin’ “Goat Boy”, which is when ya drink too much whiskey and start actin’ goat boy. The “Two Shoes” part was ’cause it was just two folks at the start puttin’ all the music together.
Deb: How many people have played with BTS to date?
BTS: A bunch of folks, a whole bunch, from all kinds of places. There have been 17 Billies that have musically contributed to the project. We’re playin’ out as a four piece string band now, with Josh Lawson, Josh Coy, Sean Jenkins and James. Other Billies that have played live or contributed to the albums are: Big J Cowans (Columbus OH) Drums and foundin’ Billy; Gary Harden (Chapel Hill, NC) Lapsteel, Mandolin and Dobro, Dan Rees (Columbus OH) Harmonica; Stacy Harden (Chapel Hill NC) Bass; Matt Fleak (Obetz OH) PVC Flutes; Tom Howard (Columbus OH) Bass; Keith Flint (Deleware OH) Percussion and Harmonica; Dan Laney (Columbus OH ) Fiddle; Steve Ball (Columbus OH) Bass; Gus Hoffman (Denver CO) Trombone; Wim Oudijk (The Hauge NL) Orchestration; Pete McPartland and Colin Heaney (Liverpool UK) Ukelele and Cuatro. Many of these folks contributed parts to the albums, and every once in awhiles ol’ Gary will make a trip up from Chapel Hill to pick a few tunes with us. Gatherin’ up with Gary always makes for good Billy times.
Deb:Who writes the songs?
BTS: For the first three records James and Big J wrote all the tunes, some individually and some collaboratively. For the recordin’ though, it was pretty much a free for all puttin’ the music together. We had no preconceived vision for the tunes, and didn’t want to guide folks one way or the other. We’d work out some guitar and drums, maybe a scratch vox and send ‘er down to Gary in Chapel Hill. For the last couple records, he put together all the Lapsteel, Dobro and Mandolin, which really gave life and a particular feel to the tracks. For our “Full Breakfast”, there were thirteen folks that contributed, which made for all kinds of new Billy sounds. These days, the Joshes and Jenkins are all bringin’ new Billy tunes to the table. We’ll be hearin’ alot of their works on the next record. They’re great folks to make music with.
Deb: Tell me about why the band donates everything to feeding people?
BTS: It is our way of givin’ back to the folks where our families are from. It’s hard livin’ ’round many of them parts. Jobs are thin, and there ain’t much of a career to be made unles - Loud and Upfront Columbus


"Interview With Billy Two Shoes, a band dedicated to feeding people."

“ There ain’t a one of us Billies that’s afraid of a hard day’s work, and ain’t a one of us that minds givin’ it all away.” How many bands do you know that can honestly make a statement like that? When Billy Two Shoes says it they are not just blowing smoke. As of June 5th 2011 these guys donated more than $10,000 to food pantries in Ohio and surrounding states! Using money from their albums Appalachian Memoirs, New Shoes and Full Breakfast as well as playing local shows they are paying it forward in a big way.
I was as happy as a puppy with two, uhm, tails, that James Gettles, one of the founding members, and the band took the time to answer some questions for me.
Deb: Tell me about “the weekend” that Billy Two Shoes was born.
BTS:We had been talkin’ for awhile about tryin’ to cut a record in a weekend, writin’ a bunch of new tunes and recordin’ it all in one shot. We wanted to make some music that talked a bit of our times and experiences down on the river in Gallia County. James (Gettles) and Big J (Cowans)gathered up the instruments, started on Thursday evenin’, framed up the tunes and took a swing. We spent ’round 15 hours a day for the next three days cuttin’ tracks. (Dan) Rees stopped through for some harmonica on Saturday afternoon, and we wrapped ‘er up by Sunday night. It was a kind of an organized mayhem of sorts. We knew what we wanted to do, but really had no idea if we could pull it off or what it would sound like in the end. We got what we got and we ran with it.
Deb: Where does the band’s name come from?
BTS: Billy was actually a reference to what Big J calls goin’ “Goat Boy”, which is when ya drink too much whiskey and start actin’ goat boy. The “Two Shoes” part was ’cause it was just two folks at the start puttin’ all the music together.
Deb: How many people have played with BTS to date?
BTS: A bunch of folks, a whole bunch, from all kinds of places. There have been 17 Billies that have musically contributed to the project. We’re playin’ out as a four piece string band now, with Josh Lawson, Josh Coy, Sean Jenkins and James. Other Billies that have played live or contributed to the albums are: Big J Cowans (Columbus OH) Drums and foundin’ Billy; Gary Harden (Chapel Hill, NC) Lapsteel, Mandolin and Dobro, Dan Rees (Columbus OH) Harmonica; Stacy Harden (Chapel Hill NC) Bass; Matt Fleak (Obetz OH) PVC Flutes; Tom Howard (Columbus OH) Bass; Keith Flint (Deleware OH) Percussion and Harmonica; Dan Laney (Columbus OH ) Fiddle; Steve Ball (Columbus OH) Bass; Gus Hoffman (Denver CO) Trombone; Wim Oudijk (The Hauge NL) Orchestration; Pete McPartland and Colin Heaney (Liverpool UK) Ukelele and Cuatro. Many of these folks contributed parts to the albums, and every once in awhiles ol’ Gary will make a trip up from Chapel Hill to pick a few tunes with us. Gatherin’ up with Gary always makes for good Billy times.
Deb:Who writes the songs?
BTS: For the first three records James and Big J wrote all the tunes, some individually and some collaboratively. For the recordin’ though, it was pretty much a free for all puttin’ the music together. We had no preconceived vision for the tunes, and didn’t want to guide folks one way or the other. We’d work out some guitar and drums, maybe a scratch vox and send ‘er down to Gary in Chapel Hill. For the last couple records, he put together all the Lapsteel, Dobro and Mandolin, which really gave life and a particular feel to the tracks. For our “Full Breakfast”, there were thirteen folks that contributed, which made for all kinds of new Billy sounds. These days, the Joshes and Jenkins are all bringin’ new Billy tunes to the table. We’ll be hearin’ alot of their works on the next record. They’re great folks to make music with.
Deb: Tell me about why the band donates everything to feeding people?
BTS: It is our way of givin’ back to the folks where our families are from. It’s hard livin’ ’round many of them parts. Jobs are thin, and there ain’t much of a career to be made unles - Loud and Upfront Columbus


Discography

2008, "Appalachian Memoirs"
2009, "New Shoes"
2011, "Full Breakfast"
2012, "Bourbon for Beans"

Photos

Bio

Formed in 2008 in Columbus, Ohio Billy Two Shoes initially took shape from a personal challenge to record a full length album in a weekend, just to see if it could be done.

Out of that weekend, two things emerged; the first, Billy Two Shoes' album "Appalachian Memoirs", a collection of uniquely Ohio-based Americana with a swampy, trailer park twist. 
The second, the decision that any sales and profits of Billy Two Shoes music would go to help feedin’ folks back home  in areas of Appalachia that have trouble finding help feeding the needy.

Passing "Appalachia Memoirs" among friends, playing small gigs, and getting play on internet radio, B2S began to build up steam.  Early comparisons were drawn to Ween and bluesy alternative country, with "hillbilly Pink Floyd" being mentioned more than once.  The Billies experimented with their sound and gathered up a local following of fans and musicians... enough to begin a second album.

Released in 2009, "New Shoes" is full of enthusiasm and grooving acoustic soul.  That Southern Ohio sound comes through loud and clear, with a Beatlesque flavor and always a nod to bluegrass and country roots.  Intermixed with harp, electric slide work, punchy drummin', and even a bit of homemade pvc flute and penny whistle, tunes like "Times ain't so tough", "Best that you leave it alone", and "Doin' what you can" all point right at the general Billy philosophy. But then again, so do the ornery "Ain't going out today" and "Nursery Gin", odes to settin' still and that you don’t get to ante up at the end.  A special treat is "Poem about a Pig", a poem penned by B2S's founding bass player James Gettles' Great-Grandpa put to music.

Spurred on by the success of "New Shoes", the Billy crew began to grow in preparation for a third release and bigger gigs.  Banjo player Josh Coy joined in 2009 to help nail down that trailer park sound...  Josh Lawson took over the helm of lead vocals in 2010 and brought his mandolin along, giving them Billies Kentucky-bred street cred... and Sean Jenkins joined as well in 2010 on lead slide and dobro guitars. Now a solid 4-pc string band, the Billies gathered steam. 

During this time, them Billies kept right on recordin'.
Internet and local interest had grown dramatically, and offers of help from other musicians came darn near pouring in. 
The third Billy album, "Full Breakfast", has a laundry list of fantastic players from literally the world over. Artists from the Netherlands, Liverpool, Colorado, and North Carolina can be heard on this 2011 release. All told, 12 folks added themselves to the mix to help feed folks!

In December 2012, the band released their 4th studio album, "Bourbon for Beans," a return to full on southern Ohio roots music performed by the "local" Billies and mixed and mastered by long distance Billy, Gary Harden, down in Chapel Hill.

In 2012, B2S played across Ohio, into Kentucky and Indiana, and some great festivals like Appalachian Uprising, Browngrass, Northern Kentucky Music Fest, and MidPoint Music Festival, with more to come!
In the spring of 2013, B2S received a grant from the Idea Lab at the OSU Urban Arts Space to help fund proper 501(c)3 status, and we expect to have that up and running by summertime.

Since that first weekend in 2008, absolutely all proceeds have gone to food pantries, now totaling over $25,000.  All band members, and anyone that has given time, energy, music, support, or lent a hand or a nickel, has done so completely for free in order to send more dollars to those in need.

We hope y'all will give us a listen, and maybe lend a hand in doin' what we do. Hopefully we can help get a few bellies full in the meantime. -The Billies