When artists like Steve Delopoulos, Neulore, The Last Bison, Canon Blue, and Paper Route share the stage in Nashville, you can be sure to see a full crowd in attendance. That was the scene last night at 3rd & Lindsley as industry professionals, executives, investors, and fans showed up to a showcase put on by Wedgewood Circle. Proceeds from the show (only $10) went directly to the Wedgewood Circle Artist Fund, a group that exists to give “artists the capacity to be sustained and grow in their culture space.” Wedgewood initially launched in 2007 to “invest in artists whose calling is to the common good… and to be in the world, but not of it.” The investors and board members have supported all the bands mentioned above, which collectively formed one of the best showcases that I’ve ever seen in Nashville. Despite their shortened set, Paper Route killed it as usual, playing songs from their new album, The Peace of Wild Things. It was also my second time seeing Canon Blue in concert, but this time Daniel James was joined on stage by Zach Farro on drums and Vince Scheuerman on guitar/vocals, along with horn and string sections. The result was phenomenal, and it was amazing to see the songs from his debut album, Rumspringa, come alive with the addition of quality musicians and full band performance. There were countless great moments, but the true surprise of the evening was witnessing the performance from The Last Bison.
That was the first track, called “Switzerland,” from their debut album, Inheritance. The Last Bison played songs from the EP during their set at the Wedgewood Circle showcase, and made a huge impression on the crowd of mostly new listeners. The band, originally from Chesapeake, VA, is composed of Benjamin Hardesty, Dan Hardesty, Annah Hardesty, Andrew Benfante, Amos Housworth, Teresa Totheroh, Jay Benfante. Frontman Ben Hardesty leads on vocals and guitar (sometimes bass drum) while his Dad provides harmonies and mandolin from stage right. A true family band, his sister also provides harmonies, and melodic percussion from stage left. The seven-piece band creatively describe their music as Mountaintop Chamber music. However, there’s really no description that would suffice without a listen to their debut project, Inheritance. The songs are full of life, with folk roots, and great instrumentation. Hear more music and get a better look at The Last Bison by checking out their EPK.
There’s no denying the band’s similarities to folk rock/pop contemporaries like Mumford & Sons, The Decemberists, and Fleet Foxes. The ability for bands to succeed with such alternative music brings hope for up and coming bands like The Last Bison. However, the family-led group of close friends have developed their original sound by incorporating instruments like cello, a 75-year-old chaplain’s pump organ, and Bolivian goat toenails. More importantly, the family harmonies, classical strings, and earthly percussion give them that natural ability to draw people in upon first listen. As you’ll here on Inheritance or when seeing them live, the arrangements and vibe are authentic, stemming directly from the band’s roots in colonial Virginia. Although the “band members appear to have stepped out of an 18th century stagecoach,” I think it shows listeners where the art comes from. It’s not a made-up branding scheme and it’s not a jump onto a pop culture bandwagon. If you enjoyed what you heard here, check out the rest of the album by clicking on the art below.
By Steve Harpine | Nashville Ambassador | @Steve_MWL | Beat-Play & Music Without Labels, LLC