Shotgun Holler features Shawn Brock (mandolin/harmony vocals), Matt Jones (guitar/lead vocals), Rod Lunger (bass/harmony vocals), Nathan Treadway (banjo), and Alex Benefiel (fiddle/harmony vocals) who hail from Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio.
Shotgun Holler’s Debut Album “Loaded” Mixes Traditional Bluegrass With A Modern Alternative Edge: “Loaded” is released by Lonesome Day Records’ new imprint, Dry Lightning Records.
It’s not often that a bluegrass band comes around sporting tattoos and singing about things that some radio stations of that genre might find a bit too left of center, but that’s exactly what Shotgun Holler is all about.
The subject matter tackled on the band’s debut album released on June 30, 2015 dives into some darker topics not usually heard in traditional bluegrass music, such as drug addiction, and prostitution. “We don’t really fit the typical bluegrass mold of today,” explains Brock. “Instrumentally we are pretty recognizable as bluegrass. We’re using the traditional bluegrass instruments,- banjo, guitar, upright bass, mandolin, and fiddle. Where we tend to cross into other areas is the material that we choose, which can be very non-traditional. Lyrically, all of the songs aren’t necessarily wholesome.”
It was one fateful day listening to the radio that inspired Brock, a long-time session musician who also has three jazz albums under his belt, to start Shotgun Holler in February of 2014. “I was listening to a bluegrass radio station and it was kind of like a volcano was building up inside of me. It seemed like people were cutting this watered down sterile material singing about the same subject matter and no one is trying to sound different. I listened to five songs and couldn’t tell one artist from another. I have been playing Bluegrass for 23 years, and in the 90’s I knew every artist who came on just by their sound. Blue Highway had a great distinctive sound, which was vastly different from the classic sound of the Bluegrass Album Band. Both are favorites of Shotgun Holler members, but each unit had their own thing going. I called friend and former band member from the group Blue and Lonesome Matt Jones and I said,“I’m sick of hearing singers and pickers imitate each other and cover songs that were just recorded 3 years ago. Let’s put a band together and do what we’ve always tried to do, be different.” His words to me were, “Man, I’ve just been waiting on you.” From there, the two co-founders, Brock and Jones put a band together featuring seasoned players. With their impressive resumes, they were able to book shows before the band even had their first rehearsal.
“Loaded” was produced by Mountain Heart founding member Jim VanCleve at Lonesome Day Studios in Booneville, Kentucky. Van Cleve has produced award winning projects spanning a variety of genres for acts such as Mountain Heart, Newfound Road, Del Shields, Celebration of Life II (Musicians Against Childhood Cancer), Annabelle Road, his own Grammy Nominated solo project, and the IBMA Awards Show Theme, among others. VanCleve engineered the album with Greg Lawrence. VanCleve, Shawn Brock, and Matt Jones mixed the record in Lexington, Kentucky.
Matt Jones had the opportunity to be around greatness at a young age. Growing up in Indiana, his father and uncles (also musicians) were friends with a lot of road musicians of the time, such as Larry Sparks. This environment enabled Matt to be surrounded by great music as a child. Matt got the chance to work with another family friend and well known song crafter, Marvin Davis. It was many late night discussions traveling to and from gigs with Marvin that would light the fire under him to start writing. Matt would go on to start his own band, Blue & Lonesome, with partner and influential acoustic bassist Larry D Sparks. At that time, Matt really started learning the details of how band mates and instruments work together. He learned a lot about dynamics, musicianship, band structure and what it means to truly be a band of brothers. When Larry D went back on the road with the Lonesome Ramblers, Matt would fill the next few years playing locally with area musicians and on the road playing bass with the Wildwood Valley Boys and the late Gerald Evans from time to time. Matt says “one of the best training grounds I could have asked for was time playing with the late Paul “Moon” Mullins and son Joe Mullins. Paul and I spent a lot of time together learning about more than just music. He was a true educator of mountain life and folklore, and a well of true life knowledge that never ran dry.” Matt has brought these years of experience and life lessons to the Shotgun Holler.
Shawn Brock hails from Harlan County, Kentucky. His mandolin and guitar playing has been featured as a side-man and session musician for the likes of Sara Evans, Dolly Parton, Ricky Skaggs, Buddy Jewell, Steve Gulley, Dale Ann Bradley, The Comet Bluegrass All-Stars, Don Rigsby, Sharon White, Peter Frampton, Eldon Huff, The Jenni Lyn Band, Gary Brewer, Jeff Parker, Darrell Webb, and many more. He has appeared on 5 Grammy winning recordings, and has performed for Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Blind from birth Brock took up guitar at the age of 9, and mandolin when he was 14. He has performed on more than 1200 recordings to date, and his music has been heard on countless documentaries produced by The History Channel. Shawn’s work is also featured on various television shows such as Law & Order, Becker, Friends and Pawn Stars, to name a few. Brock’s work has spanned many genres other than Bluegrass. In 2011 his 2nd solo jazz effort, “Sight Unseen” spent an astounding 53 weeks on the jazz charts. When not performing with Shotgun Holler he can be found producing and engineering recording sessions for other artists. Or passing time in his latest venture, the world of guitar building. Shawn makes his home in Louisville, Kentucky.
Nathan is one of the best Midwestern banjo players to come along in a while. He started on the 5 string banjo at age 12 when his grandparents bought him a banjo and signed him up for private lessons with nearby musician, Mark Poe (of Feller & Hill). Hesitant at first, Nathan was not a fan of the banjo lessons; however, he did not give up and with consistent practice and hard work, everything just sort of took off. To this day he still can be heard saying “I hated it at first, but looking back, I am so glad that I didn’t give up”. Nathan’s strong work ethic was instilled in him by his family values growing up and working on the family’s farm in the small rural community of Bath, Indiana. After a relatively short period he started playing banjo in several regional bands and has been a sought after sideman. Some of his biggest influences are his family for always supporting him, JD Crowe, Earl Scruggs, Jim Mills, Tony Rice, Lonesome River Band, Mark Poe, Steve Baldridge and many others.Nathan also plays guitar and showcases his talents on both the banjo and guitar during Shotgun Holler performances. When not performing with Shotgun Holler, he can often be found around a bonfire with friends, at a truck and tractor pull, or at the dirt drag races with his mom and dad racing a short bed Chevy that he and his father built together.
Rod makes his home in Green County, Kentucky which just happens to be the backyard stomping grounds of the Kentucky Headhunters and Black Stone Cherry. Rod is a retired Army veteran with a rather distinct and unique perspective on music and life. He has traveled the world and played in various genres and a plethora of styles during his military service and life. Rod spent his childhood immersed in 1960’s straight ahead country music played every weekend by his father and uncles. “To this day I can still hear that old Ford car radio in the garage or driveway roaring out those old tunes, hell there wasn’t a time when there wasn’t music playing or being played around our place growing up, it was a part of everyday life for me.” Surrounded by the sounds of Buck Owens, George Jones,Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard and many others, he knew at a young age that music was going to be an important part of his life someday, one way or another, he just didn’t know how, when or where. He started with the guitar about the age of 8 and moved to tried his hand at piano, drums and saxophone by 7th grade. By the time he hit his freshman year of high school, he was playing electric guitar and bass knee deep in 50’s, 60’s and 70’s rock and roll but never forgot about his roots seeded deep in pure country music. Along the way he picked up the mandolin, bass and a little claw-hammer banjo as well. Since 1977, Rod has played with many bands including The Wildwood Valley Boys, Bound and Determined, Dayle Eskridge and Changing Times, Randy Saltsman and Blue Tradition, Hickory Vaught, Blue and Lonesome, Charles Whitmer and Bluegrass Express..all these and many other bands filling in as a pinch hitter from when the call came. When not out running the roads or hitting the clubs with the boys in the “Holler” Rod spends time on his farm, gardening or hanging out in the woods bagging critters.
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