Thursday, August 12, 2010

Ten Shots with Keith Mallette & Ryan Tackett, founders of Hillgrass Bluebilly (HB) Records & Entertainment

Ten Shots with Keith Mallette and Ryan Tackett, founders of Hillgrass Bluebilly (HB) Records and Entertainment 
By Georgetown Fats
Over the past several months I have taken several somewhat public shots at Jay Sieleman, The Director of Administration, for some unproductive comments he made to the Wall Street Journal.  I did so because of the unproductively of his comments and the fact is I’m sure Mr. Sieleman can still manage to sleep at night though bloggers and self-professed critics have taken him into their view finders.
‘What is The Blues’ really boils down to a variety of personal definitions, my own has to due with the conveying raw emotions over sparse instrumentation.  Having long sense tired of Mr. Sieleman’s version of the blues, I have run full speed to the ‘Deep Blues’ community.  One of the leading record labels for the ‘Deep Blues’ community happens to be Hillgrass Bluebilly, the same guys with the sense to sign Allston’s own The Ten Foot Polecats.
Unconcerned with categorizing music by type, Hillgrass Bluebilly is stepping to the forefront of a movement to help music made with blood & guts, and heart & conviction ready available to you via recording or live to you in venues across the country. What they have done is build a connection between artist, fan, promoter and venue to create support for the music and help build an expanding fan base throughout the country. 
Whether working with such Blues influenced artists as T-Model Ford, Scott H. Biram, Bob Log III, Left Lane Cruiser, Restavrant, or other artists such as Possessed By Paul James, Tom VandenAvond, Soda Gardocki, Larry and His Flask, you will see and hear that the music supported by Hillgrass Bluebilly is new and unique and building an ever growing fan base of people who are looking forward to the new direction of roots, blues, country, americana, etc. music in America in the coming years.
GF- How did Keith Mallette & Ryan Tackett get together to form Hillgrass Bluebilly Entertainment?
KM- I pitched my idea to Ryan, for 5 years or so prior to HB he had walked me through heart, skill & the "real" in music, everything from Mississippi Fred McDowell to Hank Williams (other than the 20 greatist hits I had owned for years) along with the breakdowns of everything we saw live in concert together in 2004 from Hank III, Biram, Weary Boys & whatever else we saw. That being said, I knew what I personally had the drive for in accomplishments & try hards and Ryan believed in my here we are.
RT-The shed! You know what I"m talkin bout Keifer.
GF - What brought on your interest in creating the Hillgrass Bluebilly label/Dirty Foot Entertainment?
KM- There is a humdrum in the booking of touring shows, I felt these could be "events" with the right talent & the right pitch, I felt we'd hit some homeruns. The Dirty Foot Family is our workin class fan base that enjoys seeing things the way we present them.
RT- wanting to see the Weary Boys in Phoenix.

GF - Where does the Hillgrass Bluebilly Entertainment label lie and the Dirty Foot Entertainment begin?
KM- The DirtyFoot is always in place and is always in motion. It's a home. A home you can take residence in, or just to pop by when you can. Whether you're grandpa or the new addition... our aim is make you feel welcome. I think everyone who reads this interview and has been to any Hillgrass Bluebilly event or tour can vouch that you take something home with you from our events. I shouldn't discredit our ol pal humdrum though. Pound for Pound, this music is the undisputed champ. Our investments don't go much farther than the ear, heart & gut. Thats where it goes and thats where it stays. Entertainment....promoters....a good mix? Sure...but not on this level yet...everything around us whether barely or full-on is unstable... and pouring money into live events, making different aspects of our personal lives at risk...weighs on us after awhile. The record label is our answer for now for a balance of our true calling which is yet to be discovered. I can't leave this "movement" behind and I will not give up on it. Sure, I guess there is a line to crossed. BUT I AM A FAN.... we work...I clean pools, Ryan installs cable, internet & phone 6 days a week. HB is certainly a calling and a duty and I do not feel I am those like me, start chapters!
RT-One's a flag , One's a people!

GF - From my limited understanding “Hillgrass Bluebilly” has a few unique characteristics not found in other record labels.  Could you explain the additional services you provide to musicians or your regional affiliate set-up?
KM- Well shit, we have limited understanding. We have no book that says the do's and don'ts. We try and supply an in house fan base, the original idea... to have Hillgrass Bluebilly in every time zone...and then spiderweb from there. Thats VERY hard to do. I see chains like HOB or an invester contacting us as soon as they start recognizing an established 5 years of record breaking "drink sales" and "attendence" nights at our events and for the most part...consistantly. We are trying to obtain that ourseves. We have 15 years or more before the kids are out of the house..... we have time to build for now... We would like some more good chapter owners.... but not everyone is in for the long haul... thats understandably hard to ask someone.... they have to want it (like Ando & Brenn in Ft. Wayne), but again.... its hard.........hurts so good, ya know?
RT-Keith will give free hand jobs. 
GF - When a dog bites himself while trying to rid himself of fleas does he think “hmmmmm, I taste like chicken?
KM- I think the dog thinks "whats this irritating mother fucking itch?"
RT-This sounds like a question from a cat owner!
****Mr. Managing Editor’s note, unless we’re talking Jazz or ethnic food of untraceable origin, I am NOT a cat owner/fan********

GF - The Hillgrass Bluebilly roster seems to balance both ‘Deep Blues’ artists with a ‘Outlaw Country/Americana Vibe’, what goes into the thought process on which artists Hillgrass Bluebilly attempts to sign?
KM- heart.... always heart. writing & delivery... not so much outlaw.....
RT- Ain't nobody round here wanna hear no bullshit no matter how you title it

GF - Can you provide a delineation between the ‘Hillgrass Bluebilly Records’ line and the ‘Dirtyfoot Entertainment’ brand?
KM- a delineation? its all the same, first came the individual dirtyfoot... now they have a record label?....Ryan?
RT- Dirtyfoot has nothing to do with a business plan.Those are just the wonderful hopeless motherfuckers that spin our world around nothing but faith and heart baby. That's what the songs should be about that's what the shows should be stays true ,two stays true and so on. 
GF- What are some of your biggest challenges as an independent/national label?
KM- "shake. that. thing"...... would you like to finish Ryan?
RT-  "money. money. money."

GF- The Hiram/Huddie Double CD has garnered Hillgrass Bluebilly an incredible amount of buzz/support/awards for Hillgrass Bluebilly, while the original concept is easily understandable how was it possible to receive interest and tracks from non-Hillgrass artists?
KM- It was a pretty cool concept, its a winner because its a winner, I think everyone knew it...who wouldn't want to be apart of that? buzz? we had 3 write-ups about that album.... its underground as fuck...still.... the true value of this record I yet to be discovered....
RT-  WILLIAMS_____LEADBELLY!!!!!  that's how!

GF - Though Hillgrass Bluebilly has received a phenomenal amount of press for “Hiram/Huddie” I do understand the label is driven more from passion instead of revenue generator.  After putting in a full day of work at your day job, how do you find the strength to offer your best to the Hillgrass Bluebilly label?
KM- Our best? ....the passion is there....the ideas are there.... it's just a stupid money thing. Press for Hiram & Huddie has been word of mouth friend, a write up on ninebullets, I think Rick S finally did one...and another blogspot I cant remember the name of right now.... the rest, I asked people to write me their reviews for my personal enjoyment.
RT- We are still working to get to the point of being able to give it our best. 
****Mr. Managing Editor’s note Hiram & Huddie  HIRAM & HUDDIE vol. 1 & 2 won the Vox Pop Voting at the Independent Music Awards.  The debut album for Hillgrass Bluebilly Records "Hiram & Huddie vol. 1 & 2" won the "voters poll" for 2010 Independent Music Awards.*******
GF - Ultimately if you had any sage advice to provide to upcoming deep blues/punk/americana bands, what would it be?
KM- Don't do it man.....unless you really really HAVE to.....
RT-Fucking do it what else are you gonna do? You got a guitar a couple fingers couple feet some bullshit going on all around you tell us about it! Like a bird with balls to heavy to fly.
GF - Though in my own personal experience all of the Hillgrass Bluebilly artists have been musically refreshing, for those with a blues bent which Hillgrass Bluebilly artists do you recommend?
KM- Any of them.....
RT-That's a loaded ?.Depends what you feel blues is! Is it   DUUUNANANA. . . I'M MAN OR IS IT I SHOT A MAN JUST TO WATCH HIM DIE OR IS IT HOW CAN I ROLL WHEN THE WHEELS WON'T GO? All sounds like blues to me it's just how you want it ,and we want it all!

GF - For fans of traditional pop blues (i.e khakis and bowling shirts) can you recommend anything to those folks looking to branch out?
KM- No advice... we ask that you come at your own will....when its ready for you. But to answer all of these questions with an answer... "Biram". But he's not a Hillgrass Bluebilly my heart....he's not a Bloodshot artist......  but I can recommend him to anybody...and do!
RT-I refuse to awnser this ? Let me know how Justin Beiber's blues album is? WTF pop blues what the fuck is that ? Does that really exist? And if so keep it away from me please.....If the next ? is about Eric Clapton I'm going to bed.
For more information on Hillgrass Bluebilly Entertainment, please check out the following contact information or links;
Keith Mallette
Hillgrass Bluebilly Records
c 512-300-4136

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