Hustle Souls
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Hustle Souls

Asheville, North Carolina, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2017

Asheville, North Carolina, United States
Established on Jan, 2017
Band Alternative Soul

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"They'll Take You There"

Hustle Souls is playing the spectrum. “We say we’re a song band for jam-band people, and a jam band for song-band people,” says bandleader Billy Litz. “We try to make music that’s fun, danceable, and makes people feel good — and that we enjoy grooving out to. That’s important. But we hope that there’s some substance there.”

The name is a playful nod to Muscle Shoals, the Alabama town that achieved worldwide fame for its recording scene beginning in the 1960s — merging blues, country, gospel, and roots music into hits for artists ranging from Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding to Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones. (Current arena fillers The Drive-By Truckers, though not a soul band, are a second-generation remnant of the phenomenon: lead singer Patterson Hood’s father, bassist and trombone player David Hood, was integral to the Muscle Shoals scene.)

“For me it wasn’t even the music, per se,” says Litz. Instead, he explains, it’s the “mythical, magical” way a “backwards small town that shouldn’t be anything … turns into the center of the world. I found that very interesting.”

But even though he describes the genre (including the legacy of the Stax Records label in nearby Memphis) as “amazing,” he emphasizes that Hustle Souls isn’t a tribute act. “We do go in more of a roots-revival/soul-revival direction … and the truth is that [that kind of] music is just super fun to write. It sounds good and it’s just a great melody and a groove. But then you can also do whatever you want, harmonically. The freedom’s all there.”

A prolific tunesmith who does a solo show every Tuesday in Asheville at Urban Orchard, Litz claims he had no intention of starting a soul band, or one of any other particular genre, when he began recruiting players. “I had a bunch of songs written, more in kind of an indie-folk vein,” he says, “but the rest of the band had a lot of R&B and soul influence. We found that it was the sound that really worked for us, and that’s what we enjoyed doing the most. We were always, if anything, intentionally eclectic. We all had such different backgrounds that we sounded like a lot of different things, until the last six months to a year, [when] we’ve really come around to the soul vibe.”

Lead singer Billy Litz didn’t like his voice in high school. Now it’s a mark of distinction. Photo by Matt Rose
Lead singer Billy Litz didn’t like his voice in high school. Now it’s a mark of distinction. Photo by Matt Rose

Hustle Souls features guitarist Chris Everett, bassist Sean McCann, and drummer Tommy Moore, as well as Litz on lead vocals, keyboards, trumpet, and harmonica. “I didn’t want to do like a Billy Litz songwriter thing with a backing band,” he says. “I wanted it to be a fully collaborative thing.”

Litz grew up in Montgomery County, Maryland, and studied music at U of M Eastern Shore. Feeling the itch to travel after graduating, he decided to join the Peace Corps and served in the village of Mukalashi in Central Province, Zambia.

“No matter what I did, I was always wishing that I had a band,” he says. “I played a lot of music while I was traveling, but never had the stability to grow a project for the number of months and years it takes to really get something going.”

Back in the U.S., Litz visited Boulder, Austin, and Portland, before deciding to move to Asheville. “Musically it’s a good fit for us,” he says. “Asheville’s pretty open-minded. There’s a history of bluegrass, but if you go out there are all kinds of music.”

His main reason for staying is his band. “Finding people that you can work with and create with and rely on — it takes a lot of hard work and patience, and no matter where I was with this band, I don’t think I’d move away from it,” he says. “I would say that the only two things in life that you use the term ‘break up’ for are a romantic relationship and a band. You don’t hear of a business breaking up or a sports team breaking up. I’ve failed at it multiple times, so I know that’s it’s very difficult to do, and I’m trying to hold on to it for as long as I can.”

The bandleader notes that the group members all play multiple instruments, and also have experience leading bands. Plus they all sing. “They know what I’m going through when I’m trying to explain this vision I have. And it’s a big part of our project that all four of us are singing on everything. It’s something that I always wanted, and I think they picked up that I got excited every time we got a new harmony worked in. Now the vocal arrangements are part of every song, and we’re always pushing them and trying to get them tighter and bring ’em out.”

Blessed with a distinctive lead voice — high, thick, suitably retro — Litz was nevertheless a reluctant singer in early bands and his high-school chorus. “I hated my voice with a passion,” he says. “But I loved songwriting — and that’s always been my number-one passion in music, writing songs. So I just sang a lot. Hours and hours a day.”

Hustle Souls is writing and rehearsing material for its first full-length album. “I’ll bring an idea, and they can push it [in] a different direction than I was thinking at all. But by the time we get into the studio, we’ve been playing the song hundreds of times, so you become a creature of habit,” Litz says. “I think we’re pretty good at continuing to listen creatively and change stuff as we go, but I want to get another ear involved in the process as a producer. One more set of ears can’t hurt. I’m interested in hearing somebody else’s perspective.

“Honestly, what we’re really working on more than anything is trying to play [more minimally], make things more purposeful, and that’s what I think the Muscle Shoals and Stax people do so phenomenally well.” - Bold Life Magazine


"Hustle and Heart Will Set You Apart"

I recently had the pleasure of discovering a new band, Hustle Souls! They are a high energy soul collective from Asheville, NC. Their rhythm is full of beautiful southern magic, and the lyrics are comfortingly familiar. Hitting you with raw emotion, and soul opening connection, they have a southern charm and smooth flow that warms the whole room with nostalgia. When something touches your soul, it never leaves you.

It is my pleasure to introduce the members of Hustle Souls. Billy Litz is on lead vocals, trumpet, piano/organ, and harmonica. Sean McCann is full of deep smiles on the bass. Christopher Everett lays down steady soul shreds on guitar. Tommy Moore sits on drums with steady rhythm that gets me movin and grovin along with a fresh young voice that compliments Billy’s deep soulful vocals. All the guys sing, creating a beautiful connection that has me singing my own heart out with them every time I hear them now. Each member plays their complimentary parts as emotions do in our mind, body, hearts and souls. You will find them often in North Carolina, where they found themselves a home, as well as up and down the east coast. They are new to the scene, and I have a good feeling about what they will bring to our music community.

The inspiration of the name Hustle souls is a play on the magical Muscle Shoals, home to Fame Studios in Alabama. The magic of Muscle Shoals has been a great inspiration to the music of America, as well as the members of the band. Hustle Souls has found their own piece of Muscle Shoals magic in the heart of Asheville NC, where they have made their selves a home. I had the pleasure of experiencing the mountain magic of North Carolina recently, and I am really looking forward to catching a Hustle Soul show in Asheville soon for the full experience.

I first saw Hustle souls when they opened for LITZ at the 8×10 in Baltimore, MD this winter. Both talented front men Austin Litz (LITZ) and Billy Litz (Hustle Souls) are brothers, leading the audience with vocals, keys, horns, and strong stage presence. The energy was a little distracting here, with the high energy of our lovely, funky LITZ family taking over the vibes.

I got to experience a different vibe when they came to my hometown of Solomons, MD a few months later. This was a last minute surprise show for me and I was up-close and personal, their energy taking my soul for one hell of a ride. They mellowed it out somewhat at this show, adjusting to their audience. This is a family friendly bar in a southern Maryland vs. the high energy club vibes of the 8×10. Their smooth southern soul was a sweet Sunday delight for my town. I got their beautiful stickers and their first and only EP; which I played nonstop for weeks. I had the pleasure of speaking with each of them and they showed gratitude for expression of themselves, music, and the support and energy there that night.

Their EP is a go to when my soul needs deep comforting healing. It makes great summer backyard chilling music, Sunday morning cruises with the windows down, or late night lovin' with your lover. It is what I jam to with my coworker at the end of a shift when we just got to sing out those blues!

Starting with “me oh my” (my favorite to sing to!) which tells the familiar tale of navigating relationships, and ourselves. Each note and lyrics glides through your soul with grace and beautiful rawness. Each song guides us through a collective soul session. They sing about how we live and learn through the dance of love and life, and express it in a way that is healing for anyone who listens. You’ll find Guitar that squeezes and pulls, and lyrics that are all too familiar yet comforting and full of inevitable evolving change.

I jammed this album through a month of rain this spring, which brought heavy soul growth to me which I am forever grateful for. A particular favorite bliss moment of mine off the album is near the end of “shake hands”. The harmonizing in here is so touching, gracing me with the most beauty I have felt in a long time. I feel like a harp being stroked gently, longingly. Listening to their EP I can’t help but hug myself, my core warm and cozy, music moving me.

Find their first EP here- https://www.dropbox.com/sh/0tnpr4vgpbqtp8a/AAAxynCihEBIw9y1l2sWcD52a?dl=0

These men have the courage to put their stories, emotions, and souls out there, and that is inspiration for us all. We can acknowledge the familiar stories of love heartbreak, lessons, and life itself. This is what soul music is all about, feeling deep emotion through sound. This is the kind of band that sets a tone to make history through the “sound” of soul. When something touches your soul it never leaves you. It may come in waves, but they’ll hit you in that heavy place, hitting spots of your soul you didn’t know needed healing. Hustle and heart will surely set these southern souls apart. - Kerri Tucker


"ASHEVILLE MUSIC WEEKEND: HUSTLE SOULS, MAGGIE VALLEY BAND, FLEETWOODS"

Of course, this is Asheville, so it can’t just be that easy. As you would expect, TMVB is not the only local band performing that evening, in fact, they aren’t even the only album release show. While the Miller Sisters and Co. are lighting up the stage over at Isis, Ellington Underground has a mind-blowing lineup of local musicians.

The evening starts off with Brie Capone, former Brown-Bag winner and rising star in the Asheville music scene before giving way to possibly the hottest young local band on the scene, Window Cat.

Normally that would be an entire show right there, but after both Capone and Window Cat, Hustle Souls will be having a CD-release party of their own. Releasing a CD that, if you listen to keyboardist Billy Litz tell it, will define their sound as a band for the foreseeable future.

“We are happy with our previous releases,” Litz explains, “but we think this one will really define what we do. We have been doing these songs and road testing them for a while and they have become the core of our set and sound.”

With a style that started out tilting towards Americana but has picked up heavy doses of funk and soul, Hustle Souls can take their listener to some very dark, and some very bright places. Nuanced and always easy to dance to they bring it every night.

“We practice twice a week, and we usually gig weekly, but we have been laying low,” Litz confides.

Friday night they plan to let it loose. - Asheville Grit


"Hustle Souls celebrate the debut of their debut full-length album"

Teetering between classic, midcentury soul and modern, feel-good rock, Hustle Souls — an Asheville-based powerhouse band — have found their groove among a sizable stack of influences.

“It’s definitely influenced by ’60s and ’70s soul music, but it’s not a revival of that music at all,” singer and keyboardist Billy Litz says of the group’s style. “It sounds like its own, new thing. The roots are in [classic] soul, and that’s at its core, but there are definitely outliers that hit a wider range of music, rock, R&B, progressive stuff as well.”

Hustle Souls formed about 2 1/2 years ago. After Litz returned from the Peace Corps, he found himself in Asheville. With a group of new friends — who eventually formed the indie-soul outfit — he recorded a five-song EP, with a second released the following year.

Hustle Souls will premiere their debut full-length album, Color, on Friday, Feb. 2, at Ellington Underground. Fellow local soul acts Window Cat and Brie Capone open the show, and, in addition to the band’s four core members, the Hustle Souls’ set will feature a full horn section with Derrick Johnson on trombone, Austin Litz on saxophone and Billy Litz on trumpet.


“Throughout [the first two] albums, you hear a progression in our music — a change and a development in our sound,” Billy Litz says. “We believe in this album a lot. We think it’s going to be a big step for us — a big leap for us. It’s the first album that captures who we are and what we’re going for.”


Litz and his bandmates, guitarist Chris Everett, bassist Sean McCann and drummer Tommy Moore, recorded Color at Echo Mountain. While the album came together through the band members’ collective vision, the project was set into rapid motion by gold- and platinum-status mixer and producer Eric “Mixerman” Sarafin.

“We wrote the songs over the last year to year and a half, and last February, we did a live video series out in Burnsville at this mountain arts compound — and those videos got in front of Eric Sarafin,” Litz says. “We didn’t have a relationship with him at the time, but he contacted us after seeing the videos, saying that he wanted to work on something with us.”

He continues, “We had been talking about doing a full-length album, but we didn’t have anyone to help us with it.” So, with Sarafin’s expert guidance, the team set out to make it happen.

One successful Kickstarter campaign and $9,000 later, Hustle Souls were on-site at Echo Mountain, laying down tracks for their debut LP. “We basically just got to lay back, relax and play music — and mess around with all this great, vintage gear,” Litz says.

Asheville is blessed to have both the renowned recording studio, Litz says, and its great community of people. “It’s superhumbling that people believed in what we were doing enough to put some of their energy and hard-earned money into it,” he says of the Kickstarter campaign. “It was just a really nice thing, and we’re not taking it at all for granted. We’re in a really special place, and we’re extremely grateful to have the opportunity to create this album.”

As for the record-release show, “We’ll be playing with some of our great friends and some of the best bands in town. … This is the first three-band Asheville bill that we’re headlining — and also the first time we’re working with horn players,” Litz says. “It’s been a hectic time getting the show together, but the stars are aligned and it’s going to be an awesome time.”

WHO: Hustle Souls with Window Cat and Brie Capone
WHERE: Ellington Underground, 56 Patton Ave., ellingtonunderground.com
WHEN: Friday, Feb. 2, 9:30 p.m. $10 - Mountain xpress


"Acoustic Asheville: Hustle Souls"

Hustle Souls has come to the fore, through two years of extensive touring, as a powerhouse soul band. The musicians play with unbridled energy and produce a catchy sound that feels vintage. - Acoustic Asheville


"Smart Bets: Hustle Souls"

This spring, Asheville-based soul, roots and funk band Hustle Souls released a series of live performance videos on Facebook. Filmed at the Snaggy Mountain artist retreat in Burnsville, the work caught the eyes and ears of studio whiz Eric “Mixerman” Sarafin, who invited the band to collaborate. Ben Harper’s go-to mixer since 1995’s Fight for Your Mind and the engineer for Barenaked Ladies’ 2003 album Everything to Everyone, Sarafin produced and mixed fellow local rockers The Broadcast’s Dodge the Arrow. Hustle Souls and Sarafin have recording sessions booked for October... - Mountain Xpress


"Hustle Souls Discover Musical Identity"

The soulful sound that permeates Hustle Souls’ music wasn’t an overnight decision, but a two-year search for an identity.

“We went into it very open and said, generally speaking, that we just wanted to make music,” said vocalist and keyboard player Billy Litz. “The fact we landed on something of our own, we’re just happy we did it.”

When Litz began to form the Asheville-based band several years ago he had written songs on an acoustic guitar with more of an Americana influence.

Through additions and subtraction Hustle Souls became the quartet of Litz, guitarist Chris Everett, bassist Sean McCann and drummer Tommy Moore. The foursome have a wide range of influences and it came across early.

Hustle Souls, which plays a free show at 8 p.m. Saturday at Salvage Station in Asheville, released a couple of EPs where songs bounced around genres.

Finally, it clicked.

“We were all coming from very different places. We tried a bunch of different stuff,” Litz said. “We had old country songs that sounded like Uncle Tupelo. We had some jam band rock, some heavy blues, some New Orleans-sounding ragtime. People could never define us because songs were so drastically different.

“Once we started this more soul-influenced sound and the R&B elements balanced out the Americana sound, that’s when it all clicked and we’re all having fun and it feels good.”

The band will release its first full-length new album, “Color,” in February. It’s an album, which was recorded at Asheville’s famed Echo Mountain Studio, that the band is excited for others to hears because it should help to showcase their sound.The album was produced by Eric Sarafin, who has mixed or produced for big-named artists like Ben Harper, Amy Grant, Foreigner and others.


“We’re really excited about the album,” Litz said. “We feel like it’s going to be a kind of before-the-album and after-the-album effect in how people hear us.”

One of the memorable parts of their songs is the four-part harmonies that emerge.

“It’s something I’ve always loved in music and I’ve really wanted,” said Litz, who now hears the harmony parts when he writes songs. “It’s hard to find instrumentalists who can sing as well as our band can.” - Blue Ridge Now


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

In 2014, in the budding music-mecca of Asheville, NC, a man with a trumpet, an acoustic guitar and a mission metamorphosed into the synergistic soul/indie-pop band, Hustle Souls. With 2 ½ years of touring under their belt, the band’s feel-good and timeless sound have earned them a reputation as one of the region’s most promising independent acts. Lead singer and keyboardist, Billy Litz’s rootsy influences and vulnerable compositions are embroidered, harmonized, and decked out by a powerhouse soul band.  The rhythm section, Tommy Moore and Sean McCann aggressively usher in a tight jazz and R&B influence, while guitarist, Chris Everett, brings the group to the next level with his rock-ribbed feel. In 2017 the band was approached by gold and platinum mixer and producer Eric “Mixerman” Sarafin (Ben Harper, Pharcyde, The Broadcast) about making a record which has set the ball rolling at a different pace. Hustle Souls’ eclectic sound will soon come together on their debut full-length album, “Color.”

Band Members