Whistle Pigs: Bless Your Hearts and Livers

Whistle Pigs: Bless Your Hearts and Livers

Who: Whistle Pigs
What: hillbilly music CD release party and Christmas Eve-eve Celebration
When: 2010-12-23
Bless the Whistle Pigs
T.J. Jones

It's been a busy year for the Whistle Pigs. The hillbilly trio of "Banjo" Joe McCamish, Alex Pape, and Randy Hill have spent the year touring through most parts of the continental United States and have even signed with Oklahoma-based Mudstomp Records. They will release Bless Your Hearts and Livers, the band's first recording with Mudstomp, during the band's Christmas Eve-eve show on Thursday, December 23 at the Hangar 9.

The Whistle Pigs' previous release, Long Term Plan, is an almost gleeful celebration about being broke, drunk, and happy. Banjo Joe says Bless Your Hearts and Livers was an enormous change for the band, one they see as the next big step.

"We had a bigger label backing us, so we were able to get really good Nashville musicians behind us. We got Steve Fishell on pedal steel [guitar] and dobro. He played with Emmylou Harris for about fourteen years. Our manager got an engineer for us who knew people, so we got a lot more connections."

Fishell, for example, worked with John Prine, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, and Carbondale's own Jason Ringenberg, in addition to Emmylou Harris.

The band's previous recording, Long Term Plan, was recorded in Carterville, and McCamish says the new release's rich production trumps the band's previous self-release. Recorded at the Sound Kitchen in Franklin, Tennessee, Bless Your Hearts and Livers was created in the same studio that has seen Hank Williams Jr. and George Jones.

Ever wary about calling themselves a bluegrass band-- it's hillbilly music, damn it-- McCamish says Bless Your Hearts has a much stronger classic country sound, as opposed to a straight jug-band vibe.

"The songs I wrote [for] this album are more influenced from classic country stars like Waylon Jennings and Hank Williams Sr.," McCamish says. "I acquired a record player and a bunch of old vinyl [albums] that I'd wanted for a long time, and after about a year of listening to those [records] these [new] songs came out."

Arkansas's Mountain Sprout, a local favorite, recommended the Whistle Pigs to Mudstomp owner Jack Stafford, who at the time was looking for new talent.

"[Stafford] came up here and we talked it over, and they made a lot of contracts and we reviewed those for a couple months and had a lawyer look over it," McCamish says. "It's a pretty great deal. They're really great people."

McCamish says they have a two-year contract with Mudstomp that calls for one full-length album (Bless Your Hearts), with an option to do another, which McCamish says they'll probably do.

After the CD release party, Bless Your Hearts and Livers will be available at local record stores, in addition to Long Term Plan. Find out more at <http://www.myspace.com/WhistlePigs>.

who: Whistle Pigs

what: hillbilly music CD release party and Christmas Eve-eve Celebration

where: Tres Hombres / Hangar 9

when: Thursday, December 23 w/ Sprickets / Heat Tape