Medicine Hat
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Medicine Hat

Chicago, IL | Established. Jan 01, 2004 | SELF

Chicago, IL | SELF
Established on Jan, 2004
Band Rock Americana


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More authentic, more rockin', and definitely more deserving of a Rolling Stone cover than Britney Spears, Medicine Hat reaches back to snatch some seriously solid instrumental inspiration from multiple sources to produce an album as eye-opening as caffeine kickers on a 2am highway. Surprisingly, these Chicago boys are just as capable of Southern booty rock as slow cooked country-blues, and I don't mind saying they put Steve Earle to shame (especially after Earle's sorry last release The Revolution Starts ... Now). Certainly, Medicine Hat has rendered an environment so comfortable on their release, Hymns and Curses From the Heartland, you won't even lock your doors at night.

Unquestionably, Medicine Hat slings sounds as different from song to song as the Florida weather shifts. Hell, guitars as lulling as Mazzy Star instrumentals ("Seven Sundays") are followed by Charlie Daniels-style blues rock. Soulful vocals leave no need to fake a twang, and with back-up harmonies like those, who needs angels? With a sublimely hashed assortment of instruments - Demi Buckley, guitars, mandolin, vocals, banjo, lap steel; Ben Walker, vocals, washboard, percussion; Ryan Marzano, guitar; John DiNunzio, bass; Tara Rich, drums, percussion; and Glen Kelly, keys - Medicine Hat channels the funky side of Georgia to arrive at a heavy-hyper Black Crowes meets North Mississippi Allstars twist that they manage to keep all their own.

As a writer whose skills have been honed on telling tales Clapton-fashion, Buckley swivels from heartbroken to righteous in two teardrops time and still succeeds in penning lines like "swallow silver dollars" - simple, yet hefty with image as well as a weird detached emotion I can't place. After hearing "Saint in Tattered Clothes," I'm not convinced the band could play a bad tune if the pope commanded it. The mildly bluegrass-inclined track has lyrics more sure of themselves than Nancy Grace, in addition to instrumentation that seemingly emulates the love-child of Tom Petty and Blind Boys of Alabama - nice banjo. Check out these whiskey-swigging Northerners for a real good time. - Genevieve Will--

"This Town", off the band's forthcoming album "Hymns and Curses From the Heartland", recently received an honorable mention award in Songprize's international songwriting contest by finishing in the top ten in their worldwide competition. The song was also the top-ranked Americana entry. -

WXRT Radio in Chicago voted Medicine Hat's song "Downtown Vampires", from their "State Of The Union" album, amongst the best songs of the year by a Chicago-based artist, joining Wilco and Umphrey's McGee on said list. - WXRT

"Medicine Hat is perhaps the poor man's Calexico, The Replacements drinking whiskey, or The Magnolia Electric Company listening to pop music."

Shut Eye Records' compilation album "The United State of Americana, Vol. 3" features "Saint In Tattered Clothes" by Medicine Hat. - Shut Eye Records (Atlanta, GA)

"Medicine Hat's tales of violence and life on the road have an authentic rural feel, thanks to Demi Buckley's slide guitar, mandolin, and harmonica playing. Buckley writes the bulk of the band's material with occasional help from guitarist Ryan Marzano, and Ben Walker brings the lyrics to life with his rough- hewn vocals. "County Line Girl" is a melodic, midtempo southern rocker, while "Sharecropper" gallops along at a much faster pace. Medicine Hat gets down with some ZZ Top boogie on "Front Porch Swing," and sounds most effective evoking Steve Earle with the energetic roots rock of "Highway Run"." - Reviewer--Terrence Flamm

"Sundown Road" is an interesting mix of blues, country, and rock. The first two cuts of Medicine Hat pay homage to retro/blues-based rock, complete with slide guitar. In fact, both Ryan Marzano and Demi Buckley play slide on the second cut, "Bananaface Jones".
It might be a bit of a surprise to find that the group hails from Chicago, although that would explain the blues influence. "Sharecropper" is a fast- paced number based on a sped up blues riff. "Headed for Saturn," at nearly eight minutes, is almost a country rock epic, with both acoustic and electric guitars weaving in and out of Ben Walker's vocals. "Stone Pony" has the band overlaying interesting guitar work. "Stray Cat Railroad" ends the CD--this combination of delta blues and rock shows why Medicine Hat is such an interesting band.
Their web site shows that the members of Medicine Hat are still young. But they have certainly learned both country and blues well. All ten of the songs here are originals that pay homage to the band's influences, while still showing a unique songwriting voice.
Blues has been stuck in a rut in the last decade, with bands repeating the same riffs and songs over and over. Bands like Medicine Hat are a welcome sign for the future of the blues, mixing indie style with American tradition. - Reviewer--David Howell

Listener Station (, a web-based source of great music from both independent and signed artists alike, selected Medicine Hat's "Highway Run" (off of their debut album, "Sundown Road") to be featured in their spring 2005 advertising spots broadcast on radio stations nationwide. In addition, the band will be doing voice-overs for these commercials, promoting both Medicine Hat and the Listener Station website to radio listeners across the country.


Alt-country, memorable lyrics and tight musicianship are what stand out on Chicago-based Medicine Hat's second full-length album, "Hymns and Curses from the Heartland." Borrowing from both 70's classic rock and more modern day roots rockers Son Volt and Uncle Tupelo, their music is an ode to both, while adding their own style to the fray.

From the roaring first song "Dopesick" to the forlorn lyrics of "I Would Pay the Devil For Your Heart", Medicine Hat proves that they are a talented group of musicians. Medicine Hat doesn't break any new ground on this CD--the point of this album isn't to be cutting edge or experimental, but more about telling a good story backed by great music.

Of the standouts is the second song on the album "This Town", which tells the story of the traveling musician and his craving for his home--counting up the miles as he is driving away. Another standout, punctuated by mandolin and banjo, is "Saint in Tattered Clothes.” A haunting number - "I'm the savior, killing strangers, I'm the devil no one knows”. "I Would Pay the Devil For Your Heart" is literally about a man signing his soul away to get back his long lost love.

The rest of the album swerves between alt-country and barn-burning jams that will make any Skynard fan stomp his feet. Their alt-country side, in my opinion, is when they are at their best. And for that this album deserves a thumbs up and a listen.
- Review of "Hymns and Curses From the Heartland"

The term 'mongrel rock' was used by the band Brother to describe its music. Maybe kangaroo rock would be better for the Aussie brothers. After listening to the sophomore CD by Chicago's Medicine Hat, I'd say they're the truly adorable mutts on the scene. Their music careens wildly like a runaway semi on a slippery mountain slope, yet always pulls back into the groove at the right moment. Speaking of truck analogies, Medicine Hat's hybrid approach to making music is very much akin to that of one of my favorite acts, the Drive By Truckers. Americana, swamp, country, straight-up rock and guitar torchers all could come up at any given time in a Medicine Hat show. - Paddy Fineran


"Full Moon Fables" -- Full-length LP to be released in Spring of 2016.

"Blood and Bone" -- Full-length LP (released through the band's privately-owned indie label, DFC Records).

"State Of The Union" -- Full-length LP (released through the band's privately-owned indie label, DFC Records).

"Hymns and Curses From the Heartland"-- Full-length sophomore album (independent release in August, 2005). Available at

"Sundown Road"-- Full-length debut album (independent release in May of 2004). Available at

"The United State of Americana, Vol. 3"--compilation disc by Atlanta Georgia's Shut Eye Records features Medicine Hat's "Saint In Tattered Clothes".

"Chicago's Hunt 4 Sound"--compilation disc by Chicago's Hunt 4 Sound Records features The Hat's "Highway Run".

WXRT Radio (93.1 FM) in Chicago has played "The Hat" on their airwaves, and the band has also performed live on the air in the studios of WZRD Radio (88.3 FM) in Chicago.



Chicago's Medicine Hat combines roots-rock and Americana, with a gritty attitude emphasizing substance over style. Creating a sound sometimes reminiscent of classic era Black Crowes, Rolling Stones or Crazy Horse, while giving a nod and wink to more recent artists such as The Drive By Truckers and Son Volt, the members of Medicine Hat long ago carved out their own niche, oblivious to trends or fads that fade away as soon as they appear.

Despite delivering a decidedly ‘American’ sound (and often taking strong social and political stances), the band has none-the-less-sold albums in such far away locales as England, Germany, Spain, and Japan.

To be sure, The Hat are best experienced live, as they continue to earn a reputation for their raucous, energetic performances in Chicago and throughout the Midwest. With two albums under their belt between 2004 and 2006, their third album, "State Of The Union", was their most cohesive and ambitious work to date, garnering fine reviews in Chicago print and radio. A record built around various statements concerning America in the 21st century, SOTU felt like a concept album minus the pretension that often accompanies such compositions.

In July, 2008, the band released their fourth album, "Blood and Bone", which pushed the band's limits even further while solidifying their position in the Windy City music scene as a band hell-bent on doing things their own way.

After an extended hiatus, the band re-formed near the end of 2013, and are targeting early 2016 for the release of their latest album, "Full Moon Fables". Early returns indicate the record will be the band's most cohesive and finest work to date. The best of 'The Hat' is yet to come.

Band Members