by Andi Bricklin
It’s your everyday run of the mill story. You know, dad helps son form band, sister and son’s friend get involved with said band, then sister and friend fall in love and get married. We’ve all heard the story before right? No, are you sure?! Well this is the story of The Last Bison, coming to Philly this Saturday night.
Ben Hardesty is the lead singer and primary songwriter for The Last Bison, a band whose music can best be described as mountain chamber music. It’s along the lines of Mumford and Sons, but with much more complex and orchestral arrangements. I was excited to sit down with Ben to talk about their history, the latest release VA, and to finally get to the bottom of #Hodadville.
When I found out that Dan Hardesty (Ben and Annah’s father) was also in the band, I was curious about his role in The Last Bison and how this whole idea took shape. “My dad has been a musician since he was 14,” says his son. Ah-ha! So one wonders, is he living vicariously through his children? Ben tells me a sweet story about a crossroads in his life, when he got to that age, the summer between high school and college where he had to decide what he was going to do with his life. Ben spent the summer at a Bible school in England and when he returned he had decided that there was nothing he wanted to do than to play music, and Dad was right there to support him.
Obviously music runs deep in the family, so I asked about formal training. “My dad handed me a guitar at age three, but I didn’t really take it seriously until around 13.”
Dan’s advice to Ben: “It doesn’t matter how you play it, make it sounds good.” Great advice, but how do you explain such intricate arrangements. “Others members in the band have had formal training.” Here is where The Last Bison gets their unique sound; almost like a dusty diamond.
I tell Ben that I was stalking The Last Bison Facebook page and I found out a few interesting tid-bits. First thing that struck me odd was a photo of the band sitting around the living room actually stuffing copies of their new CD into mailing envelopes! It was like something out of the early 90s! “We’re running our own label” says Hardesty. Make sense for this band to go grassroots especially since one of their influences is accredited to a “great dismal swamp.”
Wait, what? How can a swamp influence a band? It turns out that just as we here in Philly are quite comfortable and find art within our city streets, so too can comfort and art be found amongst the VA swamp where The Last Bison were brought up. Which leaves just one last question: What the heck is #Hodadville?
Ben laughs hard, “You found that hashtag? That is so funny!” Turns out that whenever you attempt some straight up country bumpin’ stuff like maybe, say, chaining a canoe to an F-150 and dragging it though a pond, you would tag the resulting social media post #Hodadville. I’m so glad we cleared that up.
Ben is excited to bring The Last Bison back to Philly and the World Café Live this Saturday night, and if you feel so obliged he would happily enjoy a Jim’s cheesesteak wit wiz after the show!