Hayseed Dixie rocks the Laidback #045; Bluegrass style

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 6, 2003

HANGING ROCK - Thursday night, five musicians took the boxes used to categorize music and ripped them apart.

Hayseed Dixie, a Tennessee-based band known for its Bluegrass versions of AC/DC, KISS and other rock bands, drew a packed house at the Laidback Bar and Grill as people from as far away as California

strutted their stuff in front of the stage until the wee hours of the night.

Email newsletter signup

According to lead singer and fiddle player John Wheeler, a.k.a "Barley Scotch," the key elements to a good song are drinking, cheating, killing and hell - in that order. Hillbilly music, he said, began not with gospel music, but with Scottish and Irish murder songs.

"It's rough music about rough people living rough lives," he said.

The band's lineup included two new members - bassist Chad Mize, a native of Bowling Green, Ky., and drummer Dann Sherrill, a native of North Carolina who once worked with country

legend Mel Tillis.

The Laidback show was Mize's first gig with the band.

"I heard they were in need of a bass player and I jumped on it as fast as I could," he said.

Mize was sent the band's four CDs and began learning the songs.

Thursday night's performance was Sherrill's third gig with the band. When he was younger, R&B and soul music was generally "the order of the day." He said his mother was not encouraging of his desire to become a professional musician.

"After becoming a musician, the next thing was heroin and alcohol," he said of his mother's fears.

Despite the fact that most of the band members grace the stage wearing overalls, Sherrill said he is encouraged to rock.

"John pretty much gives me free reign to bash," he said.

The band's mix of two genres that seem worlds apart has garnered a legion of fans who are fans of either Bluegrass or rock, or fans of both.

"I heard Hayseed was coming, so I decided to come out and see them," Ironton resident Brad Lowe said while wearing a Limp Bizkit shirt. "That's what I like - rock and Bluegrass. I like it all."

"Watching the people makes me feel good," mandolin and guitar player Dale Reno said. "If they're having no fun, I'm not feeling I've earned my money. If they're having as much fun as we are, that's good."

Regarding the band's future, Wheeler said he cannot really plan it. Whatever doors open for the band members, they will walk through.

"Mozart didn't sit down and say he was going to create great art. He just had to support his kids and pay his house notes," Wheeler said.

Wheeler said he does not think of himself as an artist, but an entertainer.

"I give people the full spectrum. They can figure out if it's art," he said.