Pony League
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Pony League

Atlanta, Georgia, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2013 | INDIE

Atlanta, Georgia, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2013
Band Alternative Americana




"How A Braves Home Run Stopped An Atlanta Band's Break-Up"

The game of baseball is full of stories which can be just as inspirational as any novel or classic film. Gus Fernandez, songwriter for the Atlanta band Pony League, can attest to that.

The band has a new single titled "Harder Than A Rick Ankiel," about the titular Atlanta Braves outfielder. Ankiel hit an 11th-inning home run during Game 2 of the 2010 Major League Baseball playoffs, securing the Braves a win against the San Francisco Giants.

Fernandez sat down with Myke Johns to talk about how Ankiel's fall from being an admired pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, failure in the minor leagues and rise as a home run hitter inspired the song and saved the band from a possible break up.

"Seeing somebody who'd been faced with such failure in front of so many people make it to the major leagues not once, but twice was enough for us to say 'No, no way. We can do this,' Fernandez said.

Pony League is performing at the EARL on Mar. 10.

This story was produced in collaboration with Immersive Atlanta. You can find a video of Fernandez's full performance there. - NPR/WABE

"Premiere: Pony League - "Bad Habit""

There is a distinctly American essence to bar rock ballads which can reach through the cigarette smoke and balance disaffection with poignancy. From Billy Joel to the Hold Steady, this is the kind of music co-written by the passage of time which can’t be imitated for the sake of style or genre. Pony League have previously travelled these murky alleys of time as Atlanta stalwarts Cute Boots, and now have emerged on the other side as a new band, equipped with revived energy and emboldened wisdom.

Despite their bar rock sound, Pony League is not for audiences who seek only to numb their awareness with another round. Instead, there is something rousing in their sound, a bold internal struggle which pries whiskey-clutching hands from their endless reverie into clear-minded reflection.

It is within this reflective space that frontman Gus Fernandez blends fact with fiction. In a small town drama, he explores the chasm between who he is and who he wants to be. Yet the answer to his question seems as capricious as the autumn breeze which echoes through the track.

Throughout “Bad Habit,” each of the four members play with a confidence reflective of the band’s six-year history, but the crowning moment is Charlie Mills’ half-minute guitar solo, a surprisingly sensitive endeavor which weaves the song together. There is a windswept smoothness on the track reminiscent of Jackson Browne, but Fernandez sings with a raw Southern heart recalling the Americana leanings of the Drive-By Truckers.

Whether intended or not, by the end of “Bad Habit,” you can’t help but ponder your own identity and future self. In that sense the track is a challenge which acknowledges the winding roads which each of us have to walk. Pony League should know. They’ve been there and back again.

“Bad Habit” is the B-side to the cassette single “Harder Than a Rick Ankiel,” which will be released on March 11 via Bear Kids Recordings. In addition, the band is working on a new full-length LP with a release date forthcoming.

Pony League will celebrate the release of “Harder Than a Rick Ankiel” on Thursday, March 10 at the Earl. Supporting them are fellow locals Blue Blood, New Junk City, and Jeremy Ray. Doors open at 9 p.m. Admission is $8. - Immersive Atlanta

"LINER NOTES 01: Gus Fernandez (Pony League) "Harder Than A Rick Ankiel""

LINER NOTES is a collaborative partnership between WABE and Immersive Atlanta that focuses on local songwriters and the stories they tell. Created by WABE producer Myke Johns, each episode will feature an on-air interview discussing the origins, ideas, and meanings behind a particular song accompanied by a live performance video shot, produced, and hosted by Immersive.

As frontman for Americana rockers Pony League, songwriter Gus Fernandez has been known to spin a good yarn and the group’s latest single, the driving and anthemic “Harder Than a Rick Ankiel,” is no exception. Using the rocky career of former Atlanta Braves outfielder Rick Ankiel as inspiration, Fernandez weaves a tale of tragedy turned triumph over brooding piano melodies that bring to mind classic American artists like Billy Joel and Craig Finn of the Hold Steady.

The track keys in on Ankiel’s game winning home run in the bottom of the 11th inning of the 2010 NLDS, a triumphant moment made all the more dramatic by the years of heartache and failure that preceded it. For Fernandez, the story of Ankiel’s fall, transformation, and ultimate ascent transcended sports and provided him with motivation to overcome his own fears and continue pursuing his dreams in the face of ongoing adversity.

Recently, we got the opportunity to visit Fernandez in his home and came away with this video of him delivering an intimate performance of the rousing cut. Check it out above and then make sure to visit WABE to hear him tell the remarkable story behind the song. - Immersive Atlanta

"Pianist with a Hot Foot"

“[Their set was] high-octane and had the crowd moving. Songs about kudzu, retired baseball players and being wrong littered the air while lead singer/piano player Gus Fernandez squirmed around on his stool as if someone had given him a hot foot.” -
Chris Martin, Atlanta Music Examiner - The Examiner

"STREAM: Cute Boots - "Lookout""

While the material may be new, these are songs that feel worn and dusty with age. It’s music that sounds well-traveled, that’s been places and seen many things and, as a result, comes across older and more rustic than it really is. Think of a much less punkish Titus Andronicus with much more folk-leaning tendencies and you’re starting to get the picture."
This is definitely a band you should be keeping an eye on. - Latest Disgrace

""An Emphatic Jolt of Springsteen Spirit""

Ever since Cute Boots released their eponymous debut EP back in May, I’ve been eagerly waiting for them to return with more of their earnest, sepia-toned take on folk and Americana. As it happens, a few weeks ago the band launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund a new three-song 7-inch entitled Born and Raised. With 21 days remaining, the five-piece have already drawn close to accomplishing their goal and fulfilling their financial pledge. With the funding secure, we should begin to see copies of the new record hitting Atlanta in January.

Fortunately, we don’t have to wait that long to get our first taste of what Cute Boots has in store as the band has made record’s A-side track available for download on their Soundcloud page. “The Fire” is a jaunty, piano-driven rambler that’s all about propulsive forward movement and Springsteen spirit. It’s open air, top down road trip music that glistens loud and proud with contagious energy and blue sky warmth. Check it out below. - Latest Disgrace

"Record Review: Born and Raised"

By Alex Brenner

Cute Boots – Born and Raised EP

I’m probably a bit biased when it comes to this band; probably one of my favorite Atlanta bands out at the moment. I’m not sure if I was really drunk one night at 529 but I swore during sound check they did a pretty sweet version of Springsteen’s “Darkness on the Edge of Town.” On that alone I was pretty excited to get a hold of their new EP, Born and Raised.

For some reason Cute Boots reminds me of The Band – incredible songwriting and just a huge sound. Driven by piano, boy/girl vocals and big gang sing-along choruses, every song on this record is so well done. Americana is so hard to pull off without sounding too singer/songwriter or just basically like every other alt-country band out there. Cute Boots does not have that problem. They have carved their own niche. In a town that seems to have no shortage of metal bands and indie rock hipsters with Casios, it’s great to see a band actually writing great songs and also being able to play them. I f the opening track “The Fire” doesn’t get you, than you probably need to go get your pulse checked. - Atlanta's A-List

"Cute Boots: A Sound of Intrigue"

I got to say, I have a special group for you that I saw at a small joint called 529.

Picture this: The front lady, large tattoos on both arms but in a denim sun dress and a sunhat with a bow. The band behind her all wearing long-sleeve denim shirts. All of the band is wearing some form of cowboy boot. You already know you are in for something interesting. The front lady and the pianist begin singing in harmony, with vocals that sound like something between indie rock from Seattle and "Deep South Country" with lyrics that I feel safe as describing as Dylan-esque. Thus begins the set of "Cute Boots".

This is a band that I would definitely advise to at least take a look at. Their up beat songs make you stomp your feet, and their slower ballad songs can melt your heart.

The female lead singer has a great deep soulful voice that really lends itself to their style. The pianist's, who also sings a great deal, both up front and as back-up, gives their sound its indie quality, not quite as soulful as the girl up front, but definitely gives the band an unique quality.

At the moment, I am trying to set up an interview with the group to try and give you a better idea of what "Cute Boots" are about. If you are curious about them, they have a show coming up on May 28th at the Goat Farm. They are also so kind as to send a free CD to anyone who registers on their website (www.cutebootsband.com)
- Baskin Rocks

"Pony League Discusses Dream Gig at Destination: Red Rocks"

Most bands hit an existential point in their career where they stand back and question their craft. For Atlanta-based group Pony League, that time came right before they got their big break. “You get to an age where you ask yourself, 'Is music what I’m going to do, or do I want something more?'” explains frontman Gus Fernandez. “We went the crazy route -- and decided to keep going.” - Billboard


Pony League - Harder Than a Rick Ankiel/Bad Habit (Single, March 2016)

Cute Boots - "A Fresh Start in the Same Old Town" (LP, 2014)

Cute Boots - "This Here’s The View From My Back Porch" (EP, 2013)

Cute Boots - Born and Raised (EP, 2012)



Pony League has a knack for distilling real-life moments into shimmering compositions stacked with a lush blend of piano and guitars, a skill they’ve put on display across the country. Notable performances include a recent concert on a moving plane for Southwest Airlines, and more recently at Red Rocks Amphitheater opening for The Fray. 

They're second album, A Picture Of Your Family, will be out March 23 on local Atlanta label Bear Kids Recordings. 

“It’s an exploration of human perseverance in the face of such obstacles as extreme pressure, anxiety and depression,” singer Gus Fernandez explains, keeping in theme with 2016’s “Harder Than A Rick Ankiel,” which was inspired by the hard-luck story of a pitcher-turned-batter for The Atlanta Braves.

The band draws a wealth of inspiration from their home state, though Billboard says their "warm, retro-acoustic sound feels more like California than Georgia." A fitting description of a band that’s been likened to Jackson Browne and Dawes. 

”We’re an Americana band in that our songs are reflections of our surroundings and experiences," says lead guitarist, Charlie Mills.

The 11 songs on the forthcoming album showcase a tightly knit group of friends and musicians who have steadily evolved since their 2014 debut, Fresh Start. 

Band Members