The runaway locomotive energy that The Hackensaw Boys bring to the stage makes their joy obvious. The band has played all over the US and Europe at festivals, concert halls, pubs and barns for well over a decade, but last Friday they were still grinning like school kids for Asheville fans. For the final two songs of their wild set at New Mountain, the four men with the mighty sound unplugged and took to the dance floor. With the crowd circling close around, front man and guitarist David Sickmen shouted, “We’re the Hackensaw Boys, we’ve always been the Hackensaw Boys, we always will be!” During the show Sickmen drove the guitar while banjo and fiddle rang out. Meanwhile, Brian Gorby on “charismo” (a homemade, heart-tickling, tin can percussive masterpiece) rattled off each song with full steam.
New Mountain’s balcony seating and back-lit bar set it apart from Asheville’s pub and brewery scene, yet it’s small enough to make for an intimate experience. In addition to The Hackensaw Boys, Friday’s show featured two opening bands that brought the crowd instantly to its feet: The twangy, sometimes arrhythmic whine of Packway Handle Band out of Athens, Ga.; and the bright, energetic folk-pop of Rosco Bandana. The latter, from Mississippi, performed with bouncy theatrical antics, its high-heeled, leather pants-clad female musicians expertly balanced on drum sets while wielding instruments and singing. At the same time, the four long-haired men headbanged their flowing mops in unison.
The bands and the venue provided full-throttle fun for the $12 ticket price. New Mountain is well named as the fresh place to see music, laugh at live comedy and interact with a truly friendly and helpful staff. If you want to get your feet wet at this new community-minded establishment, checkout a free show on Wednesday, Aug. 27, featuring local artists Lyric and The Paper Crowns, who will be playing for a taping of “Local Color Live.”