Bands In Town
The Hippy Nuts
The Hippy Nuts Bio
“I sit and dream and drop back down into who I am and always was.”
From deep in the heart of Texas to the far-out rainy recesses of the Pacific Northwest come the two musical pilgrims whose long and crooked journeys would ultimately find fruition in the formation of a band that is quintessentially New York, The Hippy Nuts. It all started in 1993 when singer Kathena Bryant, who, though originally from Greenville, Texas was now studying poetry at NYU, met up with Seattle spawned guitarist/producer Tim Champion at the behest of her vocal teacher and mutual friend John Goodwin. Kathena had been gathering material for what would ultimately become the pair’s first collaboration on record, her solo album “Highway,” produced by Tim, which ultimately came out in 1998.
Initially, their attempts to collaborate were fairly fruitless until one night after a few margaritas Kathena’s somewhat folksy Texas accent popped out unexpectedly, having hitherto been somewhat repressed as a result of her intensive theatrical training. For a blues obsessed artist like Tim Champion, who had long been keen on the lone star sounds of Freddie King and Johnny Winter and who in his own words “considered Texas to be the most exotic place in the universe,” this sudden emergence of Kathena as the down-home Greenville gal, made for the perfect muse.
Two previous efforts, 2004’s “Hardcore Mellowdriven,” and 2007’s “Before The Fall Of Onions or Tales,” have paved the way for this year’s already acclaimed and heralded masterpiece of the return of American blues and depression-era economics “I Feel Lucky Tonight.”
“Everybody’s feeling a little down right now…they can’t help it.”
One thing that is crucial to understanding “I Feel Lucky Tonight,” the latest true-blue slice of Americana Pie from The Hippy Nuts, is that it is not just a collection of songs, it is a concept, variations on a common theme, a story. The story begins in 2007 and arcs into 2008 at the onset of one of the most substantial periods of economic collapse in the history of the United States, followed by the rapid onset of Depression era economics. It started with devastating clips on the news of severe urban decay in the heart of working-class America in cities like Detroit, but soon even the Big Apple began to get worms. Living in what had thus far been the unmitigated prosperity of Manhattan’s West Village, soon there would be no hiding from hard times. Stores and businesses were closing left and right, as were many of the bars and venues that had made New York such a favorable locale for musicians. It was then that the Hippy Nuts began to hone the concept for what would become “I Feel Lucky Tonight,” writing songs about the economy and love, together. In the words of Tim Champion, “The collapse of the economy was kind of bringing the blues to us & to everyone.” So The Hippy Nuts began to bring the blues right back, one track at a time.
“My eyes were closed before…but now they’re open wide.”
The Hippy Nuts new LP introduces itself on a dark note with “Love Put The Hurt On Me,” an anthem of pure-bred American blues rock. With wry humor and blunt honesty the Nuts meditate on the kind of nastiness and abuse that surfaces in relationships during times of economic hardship. Meanwhile, the beautiful Americana ballad “Pouring Out My Soul,” is a lushly poetic reminder to make it a point to nurture and feed our soul and spirit, no matter what other crises may abound in the world. A few more songs on the theme of love and work follow with “Working For Love” and Albert King inspired blues of “Work On Me Baby,” a classic bit of euphemistic rock n’ roll innuendo with its cooing refrain “Work on me…work on me...work on me.”
Sandwiched between two more tracks of rootsy, blues-based bits of American spiritual gospel: the lyrically touching “Wild In My Heart,” and the slide-guitar spiked cover of Mississippi John Hurt’s classic “Beulah Land” comes the title track with a bittersweet sign of light at the end of the tunnel: “I Feel Lucky Tonight.”
Just a bit more of bittersweet love making, “Back In The Sugar,” a cover of a song by their friend Alice Ripley, makes way for a tour-de-force of a closer. “Smile On The Shelf,” is a good old fashioned tongue-in-cheek country-gal theme in the tradition of Wanda Jackson and classic Dolly Parton, with a bit of Bob Dylan’s Blonde On Blonde thrown in for good measure
With circumspect precision and uncluttered commitment to the Rhythm and the Blues, The Hippy Nuts present “I Feel Lucky Tonight,” an LP consisting of nine uncompromising meditations on love, work and the return of the blues in an era of economic collapse. So take a moment and listen to the record that moved legendary Strokes producer and fellow Seattle native Gordon Raphael to name The Hippy Nuts as “one of the best rock groups in the world.”