The Last Bison
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The Last Bison


Band Folk Americana


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This band has not uploaded any videos




Previously offered through their Bandcamp page, Bison’s 2011 album Quill is now being given away for free by Bison through Noisetrade. Bison are an indie-folk band dabbling in the chamber music of such acts as Fleet Foxes, The Decemberists, and Mumford & Sons. Bison was formed in a family living room and around backyard bonfires, instilling the music with an honest, rootsy quality. Listen to or download the full album, Quill, below.
- Earbuddy

"Doe Bay Artist Spotlight: Bison"

Along with all of the local bands playing Doe Bay Fest this year there are also some bands from out of the area that are traveling a long way to be part of the festival. One of those is Virginia band Bison. I chatted with Bison back in February and they told me then that they had high hopes of playing Doe Bay Fest.

Well, now that the lineup is out and they made it I thought it would be good to touch base with Bison and get their reaction. This quote is one of the best things any band has ever said to me:

"From the birthplace of our nation, we get to follow the paths of our forefathers, and trace the trails of the pioneers, heading west to a land of promise to share the company of songsters and merry makers. This is the kind of stuff we dream of! We are honored to represent the Mother Of States to the majestic Pacific Northwest!"

How epic is that?

I really like this band and can't wait to see them play out at Doe Bay. I also know they are trying to get some Seattle shows lined up while they are out here. More on that as stuff comes together. For now, enjoy their song “Switzerland.”
- HeraldNet

"Featured Artist The Last Bison"

Today’s “Featured Artist and Song of the Day” showcases Chesapeake, Virginia’s own, The Last Bison, with their song, “Switzerland,” off their debut album, Quill, which they self-released in September of 2011. The band’s mountain-top chamber music brings folk-chestral alive, and is brought through the talented seven-member band which consists of Benjamin Hardesty, Dan Hardesty, Annah Hardesty, Andrew Benfante, Amos Housworth, Teresa Totheroh, and Jay Benfante. The band found its origin in the family living room and playing music around backyard bonfires, and are now taking their music around the country. The Last Bison will be playing the Doe Bay Music Festival in early August, and then have tour dates throughout the US. They’ll be heading to Colorado, September 11th, to play the Larimer Lounge. Be sure to check out their tour dates for a show near you.

This is just the beginning of something special for The Last Bison, and they’ll be a band to continue to follow as they sing their songs, with everything in their souls, from mountain tops near and far.
- Troubadours Road

"The Last Bison"

What's so good?
By Vanessa Torres | August 20th, 2012

Ever hear of the term folk-chestral? Well, I really hadn’t either until I heard the single Switzerland from the Chesapeake, VA based band The Last Bison. Their debut album, Quill, was released almost a year ago, and it has taken them a while but they finally put out a visually stunning video for the single. The entire album is one beautiful piece of art.

Tangled with lively violins and whimsical banjo rifts, “Switzerland” hinges on the similar sounds of Mumford & Sons and Fleet Foxes. The seven-member band grew from jamming in a living room to a real live act that reflects in their root-sy quality and complex arrangements. With such a wide range of instruments, the band has really created a unique sound that, while may sound similar to other artists, makes them a hybrid that truly stands out.
- Indie Shuffle

"Bison Quill Debut Release"

When a band describes itself as “mountain-top chamber music,” you know you’re either in for some serious artistry or some glorious cacophony. Luckily, a few listens through Quill, the debut release from indie-folk ensemble Bison, will show you which side of that line they land on. Hailing form Chesapeake, VA and playing a type of acoustic-based, multi-layered, classical-flavored roots music I call “orfolkstral,” Bison combines a variety of talents, instruments, voices and moods to create a uniquely rich sonic experience all their own.

Led by the commanding (and occasionally manic) vocals of frontman Ben Hardesty and supported by a melodically woven patchwork of guitars, strings, organ, mandolin, banjo, xylophone, percussion and more, Bison’s songs ebb and flow with powerful rhythmic surges, lush instrumental passages, rich vocal harmonies and deceivingly complex arrangements. While this is never exactly an easy thing to do, it’s even harder to accomplish when you’ve got a stage full of folks rivaling Arcade Fire or The Polyphonic Spree. In a relatively short time, Bison has impressively learned how to make room for the voices and instruments of each of its seven members, without playing over top of each other or muddying the sonic waters. However, one of the most important things to note about Bison is that at the heart of all of these impressive melodic moments lie actual tried and true, well-crafted songs.

While they will undoubtedly (and unfairly) draw immediate comparisons to bands like The Low Anthem, The Decemberists or even Mumford and Sons, Bison has already crafted a sound that is threaded with their own singular strands of creativity. Songs like “In Your Room,” “Switzerland,” “The Woodcutter’s Son” and “River Rhine” all unfurl in textured, poetic waves that are based far more in inspiration than imitation. Quill is spilling over with these types of musical musings and in my opinion, Bison’s strengths blend together the best on the infectious romp of the titular track “Quill.” Opening with the smooth sway of a mandolin, vocal and strings passage, swelling on a percussive thump and then descending into a whimsical carnival organ outro, “Quill” is a three and half minute thrill ride for your ears and heart. Bison isn’t your run-of-the-mill folk band and Quill certainly isn’t your run-of-the-mill debut album, so head on up to the mountain and give them a listen!
- Noisetrade

"Bison / Quill / Switzerland"

Dare I say that Bison is to folk what Arcade Fire is to indie rock? Boasting 7 members and a sound seemingly born on the tree covered mountain tops of Virginia Bison lays down expansive and yet imminently listenable folk with an original feel I’ve not experienced in quite some time.

Amidst all the comparisons regarding this band and others (who will remain nameless here) who have unexpectedly achieved success in this American climate of Katy Perry’s and T-Pain’s, Bison is a welcome respite from all that is manufactured. It’s easy to make quick judgements and label this band with a paintbrush tinted with What Is The Most Popular Folk Band In The Mainstream Today? color, but we will not do so here. No. This music stands on its own, no effigies necessary. To label is to do it all an injustice.

And you. Yes, you. Hi there. Don’t just quit with this download. Carry on and hit that bandcamp link. Give these 7 fine folks some money and fill your heart with some hearty, spacial, moving folk. This band deserves your eyes and your ears…

- Folk Hive

"Mumford and Sons, Bison, Joshua Marcus - Monday Threesome"

Bison (@bisonfolk), hailing from Chesapeake, VA, truly capture the musical heritage of their home and demonstrate that with the huge passion they bring to their music. Distinguishing themselves from other groups in the genre, they also incorporate a unique, classical element to their sound, which features a full string section and arrangements to match. The title track to their newest album, a perfect example of this, begins with beautifully intertwined violin and mandolin sounds that build to include choral vocals and cello. Giving equal merit to both classical and folk/bluegrass, Benjamin Hardesty’s lead vocals follow with great intensity. Their debut album Quill is available free to stream on Bandcamp. - Wild Honey Pie

"The Five Best Concerts This Weekend"

The Last Bison

Considering the mainstream success of superficially similar indie folksters The Decemberists and Mumford & Sons, it's something of a surprise to find Virginia's The Last Bison at the compact Hotel Cafe. At once epic and intimate, great-outdoorsy and fireside cozy, the group sways between classical music's involved, aloof arrangements and folk's off-the-cuff vigor and strummy inclusiveness. Though the band is seven strong (featuring both traditional folk and classical instruments), instantly charming tunes like "Switzerland," with its wonderfully music box-y backbone, would be lost without frontman Ben Hardesty's rumpled, mountain-top timbre -- he's a sound eccentric and escapist, yet he's capable of chilling for-your-ears-only connection. With its sophomore album (including rerecorded cuts from last year's Quill) due early next year, this might be a final chance to get within petting distance of The Last Bison. --Paul Rogers - LA Weekly

"Not Just New Music But A New Sound"

Not just new music, but a new sound

By Jim Roope, CNN

(Los Angeles) - Inside the recording studios of Sound City in Los Angeles, where Elton John, Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and many others made hit records, a new band with a new sound is hoping a new recording contract will help capture the ears and hearts of music lovers.

The band is called The Last Bison. The seven-member group out of Chesapeake, Virginia, plays a form of music that blends the music rooted in that region with classical music that bandleader Ben Hardesty calls “Mountaintop Chamber.”

[2:13] “We just kind of like sneak the classical sensibilities into the pop structure in a way that just kind of surprises the listener which we love doing,” Hardesty said.

Maybe more surprised than the listeners of their music is violinist Teresa Totheroh.

[2:41] “I was planning on maybe going to go a conservatory to study music so at first I was sort of unsure. But I’ve grown to love so much the way we can make classical music not just marketable to the public, but show people that they really do love classical music even though they don’t really know that."

The group includes Ben Hardesty with his sister Anna, who plays the orchestral bells, percussion, and sings harmony, and their dad, Dan who plays banjo and mandolin.

[3:25] “This was very unexpected. It’s not like I was ever thinking, ‘oh, one day I’ll play in a band with my kids,’ that was not on the agenda.”

Dan Hardesty said that when his son Ben returned home from bible school in England and announced the wanted to pursue a music career rather than go to college, he encouraged his son to do so.

[3:48] “I said this is the time of your life to do it. So I started helping him find places to play music and the next thing I knew I was playing behind him.”

An instrument that helps create the unique sound of The Last Bison is an old reed organ that Hardesty said his grandmother use to play at church.

[4:46] “I love the instrument. I love the deep tones that came out of and the spaces it can fill easily and it still being an acoustic instrument and a folky instrument.”

Listen to our story and the music of The Last Bison then join the conversation and tell us what you think. - CNN


September 28,2011 - Quill (Self Released)
October 23, 2012 - Inheritance EP (Universal Republic)
TBD Jan 2013 - Untitled LP (Universal Republic)



The Last Bison’s mountain-top chamber music combines elements of alternative indie-folk with classical sensibilities, bringing a fresh inspiring sound to the folk genre. The music of this seven member band grew organically in the family living room and around backyard bonfires giving it a rootsy quality and yet the complex arrangements and refined strings seem just as appropriate in the symphony hall. With recent airplay on WROX (Norfolk, VA), the popularity of the band is expanding rapidly. According to the stations program manager, “Switzerland”, the first single from their Debut album has prompted the biggest audience response of any tune in his five years at the station.

Ben Hardesty’s (vocals and guitar) songwriting bears sonic resemblance to groups such as Fleet Foxes, Mumford and Sons and The Decemberists. Folkhive stated stated “Dare I say that [The Last] Bison is to folk what Arcade Fire is to indie rock? Boasting 7 members and a sound seemingly born on the tree covered mountain tops of Virginia [The Last] Bison lays down expansive and yet imminently listenable folk with an original feel I’ve not experienced in quite some time”. Incorporating traditional folk instruments with a reed organ, percussion and classical strings creates a unique hybrid sound that defies pigeon-holing the band. The blog “Independent Clauses” stated “[The Last] Bison’s debut album Quill uses the seriousness of Fleet Foxes’ grounded sound as a framework, layering strings, bells and more on top. “Iscariot” and “The Woodcutter’s Son” have a darkly pastoral bent that recalls pre-The King is Dead Decemberists. “[The Last] Bison has had the opportunity to headline the Norva (Norfolk, VA) as well as perform with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra.

The Daily Press (Newport News VA) said of The Last Bison’s live performance, “The stars of [the] show did not disappoint. [The Last] Bison skillfully performed complex arrangements and delivered songs with passion and sensitivity. The crowd sang along with the group’s local hit “Switzerland” and gave a warm reception to many other tunes. [The Last] Bison is a unique musical outfit that creates an unusual energy on stage. The fact that so many local fans are embracing its sound is good news indeed.”