Whistle Pigs bring the bluegrass, Loveless brings the country

The Illinois trio will stop by Mojo's on Jan. 19 with Loveless opening.

By Connor Casey | Jan. 16, 2012

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The hillbilly trio known as The Whistle Pigs will take the stage at Mojo’s on Thursday, bringing with them a sound that calls back to the Deep South roots of country and blues.

Comprised of vocalist/banjo plauer Joe McCamish, standing bassist Randy Hill and Alex Pape on the accordion, the band began its run when McCamish saw Hill play at PK’s Bar in Carbondale, Ill. The two teamed up, added Pape to make a trio and began a two-and-a-half-year gig playing at PK’s every week. The group's first professional album Long Term Plan hit shelves in 2009 and had sold over 1,000 copies by spring 2010.

Now The Whistle Pigs have taken their show on the road, with their current tour taking them through Colorado, Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri.

McCamish talked with MOVE after an Illinois show, giving some insight into life on the road and how he, Hill and Pape came up with their style.

[MOVE] Why did you choose the banjo over the guitar?

[Joe McCamdish] For some reason, the banjo just seemed easier for me than a guitar, probably because it just has less strings to work with. But I do know how to play the bass guitar, too.

[MOVE] Who inspired you to start playing?

[JM] It has to be all the old-time guys. Grandpa Jones … any of those old bluegrass style guys.

[MOVE] How and why did you and the guys decide to form the band?

[JM] It just sort of happened. I played with a lot of people, and it really just came down to the three of us being the ones that would show up every week.

[MOVE] What’s it like being on the road instead of playing at the same place every week?

[JM] It comes down to not much sleep and long road trips. Sometimes we’ll play a show, party until sun comes up, forget what town we’re in and move on to the next one. Between shows we focus on where we’re going to eat at, find cool restaurants, get rowdy at bars with some bottles of Jagermeister and sleep. Gets hard to balance.

Before the Whistle Pigs go on, the crowd will be treated to an opening performance from Lydia Loveless, whose latest album Indestructible Machine was ranked number four on SPIN’s Top 10 Country/Americana Albums of the Year for 2011. The Ohio native has developed her own style of country mixed with punk rock, making a rowdy sound of which the likes of Gretchen Wilson and Kid Rock have only scratched the surface.

Loveless sat down with MOVE Magazine while touring through Nebraska.

[MOVE] So how did it all start for you? Were you always a guitar player?

[Lydia Loveless] I took piano lessons when I was 7, but sucked at it. I started playing in my sister’s band as a bass player when I was 13, then started playing guitar at 15 and performing on my own.

[MOVE] How did you come up with this unique style?

[LL] I don’t know. It was really a mix of everything. I was big into old outlaw country like Hank Williams and Hank Williams III but also punk rock bands like The Exploding Hearts.

[MOVE] What have been some of the biggest moments in your career so far?

[LL] Definitely releasing my newest album. It's been really successful. Also, just seeing the crowds at my shows getting bigger each time. In fact, I was just in Colorado at a big music festival, and it was wild.

[MOVE] What’s life been like on the road touring?

[LL] It’s great. It ranges from boring to really stressful, but it’s a lot of fun!

[MOVE] What’s next for Lydia Loveless?

[LL] Almost done with this week-and-a-half tour that went through Colorado, Nebraska and Missouri. After that I’m heading to Knoxville, then it’s back to another scary trip through the Rocky Mountains, so that should be fun!

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