Taking the Opry stage was a long time coming for these guys.
The Austin, Texas-based The Band Of Heathens has been around for quite some time, curating an authentic sound that blends country, southern rock, blues and funk into a unique style that’s all their own.
And after seventeen years together, the group finally took center stage at the historic Grand Ole Opry.
Speaking on the opportunity to step into the historic circle, founding member Ed Jurdi noted that the Opry is in institution that transcends genres:
“Country music is a big umbrella, but the Grand Ole Opry is almost bigger in some way.
I know people that don’t really listen to country music, and they hear ‘Opry’ or ‘Grand Ole Opry,’ it’s like (‘snaps fingers’).”
And when Whiskey Riff had some time to catch up with the guys before making their debut, they said it was something they had never even dreamed of:
“Wasn’t sure we qualified as a rock and roll outfit that we would get the call, but here we are.”
And despite proudly calling Austin, Texas home, the band says they don’t consider themselves a “Texas” act. Says lead singer Gordy Quist:
“I think we generally think more in terms of American music more so than “Texas” or “Nashville.” We don’t actually ever even talk in those terms when we’re talking about music or anything.
But yeah, we’re from Austin and proud of it. It’s a great place. I would say that the band is a little microcosm of the Austin music scene. We were just kind of collaborating and jamming. I think it’s that collaborative spirit is why we’re here. So we certainly have a lot to owe to the Austin music scene.”
And it’s that collaborative spirit that really shows through in their harmony-focused sound, adding significant complexities to their tight melodies that Quist says is inspired by listening to artists like Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt, who focused heavily on the new folk sound.
Likewise, Jurdi brings up names like The Byrds and Gram Parsons when discussing where the band gets their sound:
“The Opry is sort of the institution that has housed a lot of those artists. It’s really one of the well-springs of American Music.”
Now as a band of five, they are evolving each time they take the stage. They have taken their time as independent artists to fine-tune their sound and have stuck to their roots, not letting people change them as they gain traction in the public eye.
Their Opry debut is one of them to remember. A long road has led them to this stage, and one they didn’t take it for granted.
“It’s kind of surreal, walking out on the stage, just taking it all in. Also, again, cherishing the opportunity to be here for ourselves, but also for everyone that has been behind us along the way.”
If you aren’t familiar with The Band Of Heathens, check out some of their work below.