Local band hopes to take Music City by storm

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 11, 2011

They’re already a favorite on independent music charts and now the musicians of the local band The Whipps are hoping to make an impression on the music industry as well.

The band, which consists of five musicians from the Tri-State, will play a showcase Thursday evening in Nashville, Tenn., in front of representatives from the music industry.

“The main goal is to land a record deal of course,” said front man Don Hanshaw, of Deering. “The industry has changed a lot. It’s a lot different than it was due to piracy. They don’t sell as many CDs as artists used to and it’s harder to get a deal.”

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The band members have been playing together since the summer of 2009.

Hanshaw describes the band’s sound as a mixture of “hick-hop” and rock. “Hick-hop,” a cross between country and hip-hop, has gotten attention recently with the rise of artists like Jason Aldean and Colt Ford, who sing different versions of the song “Dirt Road Anthem.”

The Whipps’ song “Honestly,” recently spent eight weeks at No. 1 for country on Indie Music Charts and is currently in the No. 5 spot.

The band writes its own music, Hanshaw said.

“I write about my life and what I see around me,” he said. “I write about my life basically.”

A native of Coal Grove, Hanshaw got his start at music 20 years ago playing drums in school.

Highlights from Hanshaw’s career prior to founding The Whipps include touring with Ricky Lynn Greg, who is perhaps best known for his song, “If I Had a Cheating Heart.”

He also toured with George Jones during the mid-1990s.

“(He’s a) very nice guy. (He was) hard to attain. I was lucky I got a picture with him,” Hanshaw said, adding that Jones would play a show and then go back to the tour bus directly after.

“It was awesome,” Hanshaw said. “I learned a lot about the music industry playing with Ricky.”

These days if he’s not playing music or with his wife Lisa and two children, Hanshaw can be found working at Leto’s Italian Deli, which his brother Brian Hanshaw co-owns with Heather Leto. Hanshaw said his brother and the restaurant have been very supportive of him in his career.

“He’s helped the band out tremendously,” Hanshaw said. Leto and Gina Collinsworth have been helping out with public relations, he added.

Band members are Hanshaw on acoustic guitar and lead vocals, Larry Collinsworth on lead guitar and vocals, Eric Daniels on bass and vocals, Greg Fletcher on drums and Ed Price on steel guitar and banjo.

During the upcoming showcase, the band will get some help on auxiliary drums from Steve French, who currently tours with Billy Ray Cyrus.

For Hanshaw, the best part of playing music is the fans.

“We have a following everywhere we go,” he said. “Without the fans, without people (we) wouldn’t be able to do what we do.”

And Hanshaw is inviting any fan willing to make the trip to see the show, which is free to the public. Details about tickets can be found on the band’s Facebook page.

The showcase will be at 6 p.m. central time Thursday at Exit/In, Nashville, Tenn.