The Cincinnati-based ensemble Buffalo Wabs (as in ‘mobs’) and the Price Hill Hustle can be best described as ‘American’– from the mountains to Music Row, blues-gospel to traditional country, the Hustle combines parts of the American-born genre catalogue to create an energetic experience every single night.
This four-piece moves from fast-paced, foot-stomping anthems to harmony-laden ballads and traditional dirges of spirit and labor. “The group started around the love of music that moves you,” says drummer/vocalist and band spokesman, Casey Campbell. “The music accompanies the story; and sometimes the music is the story by which we can all connect to one another.”
The new original material featured on Stranger in the Alps is a “cross-section of stylistic influences and voices,” says Campbell. “Oh, Ramona!,” written by Campbell, hearkens to the Piedmont Blues-era musicians, with tongue-in-cheek lyrics and a wry humor throughout. “Those old pickers knew how to tell a story; that’s the kind of vibe we’re after.”
The band also pays respects to some of the great influencers of American music on this latest album. “The covers we’ve chosen mean something to us; these are songs that still speak to us, and we want folks who may not know them to become familiar.” On the album’s third track, the band takes a full-steam-ahead approach to the iconic Leadbelly song, “Stewball,” an all-out fest that echoes the frantic speeds of a racetrack. “The intensity, the pace, it all builds from the first note to the last,” with help from acclaimed regional musicians Joe Macheret (The Tillers and Joe’s Truckstop) on fiddle and John K. Victor on harmonica. Macheret’s fiddle plays a pivotal role throughout the album; as Campbell notes, “Having such immensely talented friends is so beneficial when building the sonic landscape of a studio tune.”
Founded on the West Side of Cincinnati, the current lineup of the Hustle is starting its third year together. Anchored by the upright, Bill Baldock brings decades of experience and finesse to the talent pool, having been based around Nashville, TN, for many years while playing for a litany of revered industry professionals. Primary soloist Scott Risner does the same; now based in Cincinnati, Risner has also been a staple in the circuit for over thirty years, playing with such renowned acts as Alison Krauss and JD Crowe and the New South. Founding members Matt Wabnitz and Casey Campbell have been picking out heavy-hearted tunes for a decade together. Campbell, an Alabama native, brings a gospel-vocal sense to the arrangements while Wabnitz’ distinct hammering of the strings and raw vocal power sets the tone.
“We play music that we connect to, whether it’s an old find or a new line. We want it to mean something, every time.”