Mayhem String Band

Mayhem String Band

 Oxford, Mississippi, USA

In a medium somewhere between songcraft, energized theatrics, blazing solos, comedy and a plain ole' good time, the Mayhem String Band has a reputation like few other bands. Take traditional bluegrass, strike it with lightning and soak in bourbon, get the idea?


Music has worked its way into nearly every aspect of today’s culture. Something in a song immediately sends the brain into a complex reaction involving impulse, memory, and emotion. This phenomenon has been the basis for everything from religious ceremonies to battle calls to jackpots on the slot machine. It’s no
surprise that many folks have attempted to exploit it just to make a few bucks.
Down in Mississippi music has a way of appearing as a near primitive expression – radiating directly from the soul. It is often found late at night coming from a sweaty bar or juke joint or porch swing, long after the day is done. There you’ll find the performers and audience entangled in a dancin’, playin’, hootin‘ and hollerin’ room of energy bursting at the seems.

It is this basis that sets the Mayhem String Band apart from many of their peers. Gone are the polished edges of contemporary taste and Nashville production. These distractions are replaced by the energy and emotion of performers who understand the unbridled force of live music. Their brand of outlaw bluegrass conjures up the ghosts of Bill, Jimmy, Hank and Waylon by creating chaos and taming it in the same performance. These men play string music, raw and aggressive, with the simple hope that people will listen up, catch the buzz and get to dancin’.

The Mayhem String Band has its roots in Oxford, Mississippi where 4 veteran musicians of the music scene got together and formed a bluegrass band in 2005. Ben Johnson (Bass), Chris Steiner (Guitar), Jamison Hollister (Fiddle, Mandolin) and J.T. Lack (Banjo) took on a weekly gig that eventually became known as “Wednesday Night Mayhem”, born out of the whiskey-soaked dance floor and general insanity that seemed to follow the band around. After months of numerous shows in the hills of North Mississippi they settled on the name Mayhem String Band, also an acronym for “May All Your Hangovers End Miraculously.” In February of 2006 Kevin Larkin, creator of the Spaghetti Western bluegrass band "Pineross," moved from Boulder, Colorado to join the band on mandolin, accordion and harmonica.

Just 3 years and hundreds of shows later, the Mayhem String Band has taken their bluegrass sound to a new level, incorporating Cajun two-steps, Irish jigs, and a chunk of Mississippi blues. Each member of the band writes songs, injecting familiar traditional sounds with the madness that defines the world today. The result is a live show balancing songcraft, instrumental virtuosity, heart-wrenching harmonies and a plain ole’ good time. They deliver this concoction in an all-out assault of music on whomever may be listening.

These 5 players have been taking their brand of Mississippi bluegrass all over the country playing over 170 shows a year. Their second album, Land Pirates, was released in March of 2009, co-produced with Jimbo Mathus (Squirrel Nut Zippers) and featuring Ferd Moyse (Hackensaw Boys) on fiddle.


'Land Pirates' (March 2009)
-Recorded at Delta Recording Service - Como, MS
-Produced by Jimbo Mathus and The Mayhem String Band
-Regular airplay on Outlaw Country (SIRIUS/XM)

'Rapscallions and Ne'erdowells' (April 2007)
-Recorded and Mixed at Tweed Studios - Oxford, MS
-Mastered at Taproot Audio Design - Oxford, MS
-Reached #19 on Roots Music Report "Folk" Radio Chart

Set List

Set list can be up to 5 hours, covering some 70 original, traditional, and cover songs.

Easy Mind
Taylor Two Step
Porterhorse Breakdown
Bella Donna
Joy and Pain
As The Fat Wind Blew
Kimoto Waltz
Nickels and Dimes
Devil's Life
Life Aint Worth Living
Blowing Skirt
In The Morning So Blue
Humphreys County
Long Time Comin
Tittie Bars and Cocaine
Nothin but Blue
Extra Gold
Blue Moon of Kentucky
Cindy, Cindy
Paint My Masterpiece
Just Like Tom Thumbs Blues
Big Spike Hammer
Rabbit in the Log
Kinky Reggae
Billy in the Lowground
White Lightning
Tennessee Stud
Mountain Dew
John Henry
John Hardy
You Aint Going Nowhere
Maggie's Farm
Little Maggie
Cripple Creek
Freeborn Man
Lost Highway
Dark As Dungeon
Slop My Gray
Gravel Yard
Waymores Blues
Cherokee Shuffle
Good Hearted Women
Black Rose
Sally Goodin
Theme Time
Foggy Mountain Breakdown
Sit Here and Drink
Blue and Lonesome
Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound
Roll In My