By Matt Wickstrom
Escaping the brisk wintry weather of Wisconsin for the warm, sandy confines of Florida for Suwannee Springfest is high-energy string quintet Horseshoes and Hand Grenades. The trip down South for Springfest marks the band’s first trip to the Sunshine state.
The group formed in 2010 after meeting whilst jamming together at parties and other social gatherings in Steven’s Point, where they attended the University of Wisconsin at Steven’s Point. The five-piece’s lineup is comprised of David C. Lynch on harmonica, accordion, and spoons; Russell Pedersen on banjo and fiddle; Adam Greuel on guitar and dobro; Sam Odin on bass and Collin Mettelka on fiddle and mandolin.
“It’s amazing to see how music can help a room, almost as a social lubricant”, said Greuel. “We enjoy the aspect of fostering a community with our music.”
Greuel and company are looking to waste no time in fostering a new community of friends and fans in Florida, as they’ll be hosting a “Tales from the Northland” workshop at Springfest with their good friends Sloppy Joe, a mainstay at the festival for years.
“Everyone in the band met at a music venue called the Northland Ballroom, about 30 minutes from Steven’s Point”, said Greuel. “It was your stereotypical country bar; a very quaint place on the outside of town. The theme for their music was bluegrass jamboree, which involves people throwing around various tunes on-stage, some easy and others tougher. It makes for great music and entertainment. Our workshop is going to be very much the same, geared towards the essence of jamming and working with musicians whom you respect and want to learn from.”
According to Greuel, the group also plans on discussing several traditions that originate in Wisconsin and the northern U.S., such as the Mole Lake Bluegrass Festival that ran from the late 1970s to early 90s and featured acts like John Hartford, New Grass Revival and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
To this point in their musical journey, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades has opted to walk to the beat of their own bass-line. The band has their own studio, the independently operated Horseshoe Records. According to Greuel, the band has never worked with a producer or record label.
“We’ve done everything independently up to this point”, said Greuel. “There’s something nice about not having anybody telling you what to do. We all take pride in creating exactly what we feel inside ourselves, when nowadays some folks go outside of who they are to please the masses. We’ve chosen to stick to our guns and create the kind of music we want to create. It’s been fun seeing what’s inside of everyone in the group and running with it.”
Greuel and his band mates love for jamming, coupled with their friendship with Wisconsinites Sloppy Joe, will see them picking and sharing stories around the campfire all weekend long at Springfest in Slopryland, Sloppy Joe’s land far far away where people come from all walks of life to pick, jam, and share positive vibes with each other.
“Suwannee Springfest has lived in our minds as quite the infamous festival for many years”, said Greuel. “Aside from being the band’s first performances in Florida, it’s personally my first trip to the state too. It’s going to be a blast spending time with our friends and peers, but also getting to see people perform, like John Prine, who we admired growing up and still do to this day.”
Horseshoes and Hand Grenades will perform at Suwannee Springfest on Friday, March 18, from 5-6pm on the Meadow Stage. The group’s “Tales from the Northland” workshop with Sloppy Joe will be on Saturday, March 19, from 4-5pm on the Music Farmer’s Workshop Stage.
To buy tickets for Suwannee Springfest or view the lineup, which features Keller Williams, Railroad Earth, Larry Keel Experience, Infamous Stringdusters, and many more, visit http://www.suwanneespringfest.com.
Check out another Suwannee Springfest preview featuring Cincinnati’s Rumpke Mountain Boys.