Herb and Hanson
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Herb and Hanson

Band Country Bluegrass

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


"Herb and Hanson Album A Treasure"

I've never been much on modern string band type music. the extent of my taste-- and knowledge --stops at Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs and Dr. Ralph Stanley.
That said, I generally know if I am going to like an album by listening to the first few bars of its opening track.
When I plugged in Herb & Hanson's third cd, The Whiskey Fund, and heard "Slow Rag Mama", I knew I was in for a treat. You've gotta love a song that starts out with the sounds of a kazoo.
The group is made up of its namesakes, Herb Manila (vocals, guitar, mandolin), Michael Hanson (vocals, guitar, banjo) and Tyler "T-Peg" Bunch (Bass) and "Rollin" Ralph Heymsfeld (banjo).
After the memorable opening track, comes great tunes like "Flanagan Hill", "Feelin' So Low", "Poor Man's Dime", "Bonnie Lee", "Bonnie Lee Breakdown" and "3&30 Nights".
These guys are talented and their songs and lyrics are well thought out.
Catch one of their shows, and while you're at it, pick up their CD. these boys are really good and likely going places.

-Matt Burdette
- Graffiti: West Virginia's News Alternative (Nov. 1-8, 2006)


"Folk Rock Duo Draws From Diverse Musical Influences, Creates Unique Sound"

Herb and Hanson isn’t your kid sister’s favorite band, but they might be someday.

“We get a lot of Web hits from 12-year-old girls,” said Michael Hanson, one half of the acoustic Fairfax duo that blends blues, bluegrass and folk rock into an eclectic style that they call “acoustic destruction,” which was in full fury Thursday night at Dave’s Downtown Taverna.

The band is often confused with the late ‘90s pubescent pop band Hanson, but the similarities end with the name. Herb and Hanson are hell-bent on taking it easy at your local bar with their weapons of choice — two guitars.

So what is acoustic destruction?

“You can’t define it,” Herb Manila, the other half of the band, said. “You can only feel it and experience it,” Hanson adds. Acoustic destruction begins with a musical style — such as blues — and then is transformed into an aggressive style of acoustic guitar play. The result is various musical genres filtering through two guitars.

It’s also a lifestyle, which apparently borrows heavily from the garage-band lifestyle of rootless and homeless. Hanson, who currently calls Morgantown, W.Va., home, can’t say it with much more conviction than saying he lives in his car. A perfect testament to waywardness and to the traveling band lifestyle they spread throughout the mid-Atlantic region, the band connects to its crowd in a personal sense.

They also connect in a musician’s sense. Basically, they’re damn good at what they do.

Tending to upset the mind and the balance of senses, acoustic destruction can be intoxicating and stupefying. However, the music remains tightly constructed, and the songwriting smart, and it burns and soothes going down much like a straight shot of whiskey, which happens to be the band’s favorite poison.

Initially playing with a Northern Virginia folk-rock outfit called Liquid Caravan, the band eventually disbanded, and Herb and Hanson formed their own band in 1998. The duo has played at private parties, award ceremonies, fundraisers, weddings and other events across the country every since.

“We’re just so comfortable playing each other that we know our styles so well,” Hanson says.

His influences range from Bob Dylan to the Grateful Dead to Townes Van Zandt and John Hartford; however, Herb’s first album was Beastie Boys’ Licensed To Ill, and Hanson’s was Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet.

Part of what makes the band’s music resonate with audiences is the diversity of its musical influences — Hanson’s iPod is currently packing the punch of some Eminem, David brothers, John Harford, NWA and The Clash. And while you shouldn’t expect to hear an NWA cover anytime soon from the band, do expect a “NoVa. With Attitude” sensibility on stage. Their live show combines the virtuosity of Lynyrd Skynyrd with the sincerity of flannel. No theatrics, just porch-stompin’ music and two guitarists born to add background music to the clanging of beer bottles and banter of bar scene, USA.

The band recorded an album of predominately original songs at Flat Mountain Sound in Springfield, Va., and released a live album from that captured the energy of their live show for loyal fans. Currently, the band is in the studio finishing up production on their sophomore studio album, which will hopefully drop in mid March.

Until then the band hopes to continue playing live shows. “We just want to play music, there’s no 401K, but [we] just want to pay the bills and get by,” Herb said. Hanson agrees: “Playing music is fun. Every place is fun, we meet crazy people — fun people, nice people.”

Crazy-fun people with an inclination towards the twang of acoustic detonation, that is.

Catch Herb and Hanson at Friday, Feb. 3, at the Little Grill Collective at 8:30 p.m. Check out the band’s official Web site, www.herbandhanson.com for a complete list of upcoming shows.
- Zach Beard, The Breeze, Harrisonburg, VA


Discography


"Herb and Hanson" -- 2001 Flat Mountain Sound Studio

"The Flying Dodo Benefit/Live at Brion's Grill" -- 2003

"The Whiskey Fund" -- 2006 Echoes Recording Studio

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

"If tenacity is an ingredient for success, there's proof in the pudding" -- Americana Rhythm Music Magazine.

"That show was a great time. Herb and Hanson...generally tore it up. Rarely do you see a duo that features top notch playing by both members like this, but neither Herb nor Hanson are lacking when it comes to chops." -- Couches on Fire: A Morgantown Area Music and Culture Blog.

FRESH SOUND- Playing together for over eleven years, Herb and Hanson have developed an honestly intense sound through acoustic instruments and vocal harmonies. The Duo crosses many genres of music, from bluegrass and blues to rock and ragtime to country ballads and country swing; performing a mixture of original songs, interpretations of traditional material, and sincere tributes to their favorite artists. They have astonished audiences on countless occasions with their skillful instrumental interplay and heartfelt vocal teamwork.

EXPERIENCED SONGWRITING- Calling on a wide range of influences such as John Hartford, Bob Dylan, Tim O'Brien, Townes Van Zandt, Gillian Welch, Jerry Garcia and many others, the Duo has created a wide catalogue of original songs over the past ten years that have become favorites for their loyal fan base. Their self-titled debut album, recorded at Flat Mountain Sound Studio and released in 2001 is crammed with original material and has yet to slow down in sales. Their sophomore effort entitled "The Whiskey Fund", recorded at Echoes Recording Studio and newly released in the Summer of 2006, strongly shows the maturation of their songwriting skills

DEDICATED PERFORMERS- Using strictly grassroots promotional techniques and self representation, Herb and Hanson have performed over 200 shows throughout the Mid-Atlantic region in 2004 and 2005. Constantly working on expanding their listening audience and gaining exposure, they have performed from DC to San Francisco and Alaska. They have also generated long standing relationships with venues in VA, MD, WV and PA.

RAVE REVIEWS- Everywhere Herb and Hanson play, they are receiving rave reviews for their performances. From the Pacific to the Atlantic, people are starting to talk about this incredibly talented acoustic duo that thrive in any stage role.