:: Packway Handle Band :: :: Avogadro’s Number :: July 26 :: :: Oskar Blues :: July 28 :: :: BB’s on Pearl :: July 29 :: :: Dulcinea’s 100th Monkey :: July 29 ::
By Tiffany Childs
Packway Handle Band is a bluegrass five-piece that calls Athens, Georgia home. That is why it’s a bit odd that their honorary sixth member lives in the foothills of the Colorado Rockies.
The sixth member in question is none other than Doug Baker, who has been an integral part of the Colorado music scene for the past few years. Working as the box office manager for the Fox Theatre in Boulder, he has become known as one of the biggest enthusiasts of music in our area. His brother, Tom Baker – banjo/vocals – is Doug’s connection to Packway Handle Band.
“The genesis of the band was in Athens and Doug just happened to be visiting during the formation,” Tom Baker told The Marquee in a recent interview. “He comes down pretty often and we are able to work together during those times.”
Packway Handle Band — rounded out by Josh Erwin (guitar/vocals), Andrew Heaton (fiddle/ vocals), Michael Paynter (mandolin/vocals) and Zach McCoy (bass) — is a group whose roots began with an interest in vocal harmonizing, which is why Doug’s efforts are so appreciated by the quintet. “Doug’s biggest influence is with our harmonies,” Baker mentioned. “We sing four-part harmony a lot and Doug will sneak into the thick of that and contribute a fifth harmony that we didn’t think was possible. We’ve even rearranged a few songs because of his input at times.”
With a recent release, Live in 2006: EP Extreme, under their belt, Packway Handle has been touring fairly frequently. While Colorado tends to be relatively receptive to bluegrass music, unfortunately, people are often a bit skeptical when they hear the term bluegrass.
Tom assured The Marquee that they shouldn’t be, as far as The Packway Handle Band is concerned. Although they are ‘technically’ classified as a bluegrass group, they don’t really think of themselves as traditional bluegrass. All of the members come from different musical backgrounds and most actually played rock and roll in their previous projects. They simply believe, like many artists, that good music is good music.
“We do a lot of weird covers like the Violent Femmes or INXS, influenced from our past. We want to be eclectic and entertaining … a bit of a freak show, if you know what I mean,” Baker said about their performances. “I mean “Nine Pound Hammer” is enjoyable, but you can only take it for so long.” That peculiar stage presence, coupled with the lyrics on many of their new songs such as “Earl the Duck” — a song about ducks and gender confusion — should make even the biggest skeptic a little curious to see what this band is all about.
When the band isn’t touring, the five-piece has been furiously working on two more new releases, one slotted for the fall of this year and the following one coming next spring, if everything stays on track. Packway Handle Band’s main songwriter is so prolific that these songs have been written long ago. It’s just a matter of the group finding the time to get into the studio and record. As for the material, Baker told us that it was increasingly progressive and may not even be classified as bluegrass on these albums.
Doug Baker is a man who doesn’t really mind how the music is classified. He simply enjoys being a part of it. Enough so that he has been called the Musical Mayor of Boulder in the past.
Sadly, it is a title Doug has relinquished. In a few short weeks, he will be moving to the Northeast. Doug, who recently hosted a farewell concert at the Fox Theatre, complete with nearly two dozen pickers on stage, plans to return to Colorado briefly to play with Packway Handle for their July shows before returning to the Boston area. As an unusual bonus, or perhaps a parting gift, Baker will not only be singing, but also plans on standing in for the guitarist who won’t be able to make it to Packway Handle Band’s Colorado shows in July.
:: Packway Handle Band ::
:: Avogadro’s Number :: July 26 ::
:: Oskar Blues :: July 28 ::
:: BB’s on Pearl :: July 29 ::
:: Dulcinea’s 100th Monkey :: July 29 ::
Spectate if you Gravitate:
• Yonder Mountain String Band
• Hackensaw Boys
• Hot Rize