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Hayseed Dixie to play at Laidback Thursday

HANGING ROCK - What began as an encounter between four men, one dead stranger and his record collection led to a bluegrass homage to headbanger music.

Hayseed Dixie, a group of four bluegrass musicians who have traveled the country playing bluegrass covers of rock and metal songs, will be onstage at the Laidback Bar and Grill at 9:30 p.m. Thursday night.

According to the band's Web site, the band claims to come from "Deer Lick Holler, deep in the heart of Appalachia." The band members grew up playing traditional bluegrass music of their forefathers until a stranger passed through Deer Lick. This stranger crashed his car into an old oak tree at a place known as Devil's Elbow Curve.

"Sadly, the stranger expired, but his legacy lives on," the band's biography reads.

The band members then found some old black vinyl AC/DC records under the back seat of the man's car as they went looking through it trying to find the man's identification. The band went on to record an album of AC/DC's songs in their own bluegrass style with a fiddle, guitar, banjo and mandolin.

"Yeah, so when we was first listening to those records, I mean, it became revealed to me that the 'Lost Highway' of Brother Hank Williams and that 'Highway to Hell' them boys was singing about, well, I knew they're the same road," lead singer John Wheeler, a.k.a. "Barley Scotch" commented on the band's site.

In 2001, the band recorded its first album, "A Hillbilly Tribute to AC/DC," which not only got the attention of the general public, but the original band as well. AC/DC bassist Cliff Williams invited the band to play at a tour-wrap party and even joined Hayseed Dixie onstage to play bass on "Have a Drink on Me."

Last year, the band released the follow-up album, "A Hillbilly Tribute to Mountain Love," which includes a variety of bluegrass covers of rock songs such as Queen's "Fat Bottom Girls" and "Cat Scratch Fever" and one original song. This year, the band released "Kiss my Grass - A Hillbilly Tribute to KISS."

Pat Boggs, the owner/manager of the Laidback, said advance ticket sales have been heavy.

"I bet I sold 50 this morning," he said. "They're going like hotcakes right now."

Boggs also had many compliments for the band, which he has seen play live before.

"They're electric. They really put on a show," he said. "They really get the crowd into it."

Tickets for the show cost $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Ticket sales will be limited to 350, Boggs said, because of the available space at the bar. Advance tickets may be ordered by calling the bar at 532-4001.