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5 questions with Packway Handle

Zach McCoy, guitarist for bluegrass band discusses its crossover appeal

POSTED: September 8, 2011 12:30 a.m.
/For Get Out

The Athens-based bluegrass band Packway Handle will perform in concert at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9, at the Historic Holly Theater in Dahlonega.

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This weekend, the Athens-based Packway Handle band will bring its interpretation of bluegrass music to the stage in Dahlonega.

The group will perform 8 p.m. Friday at the Historic Holly Theater, 69 West Main St., Dahlonega.

Band members include Tom Baker on banjo, Andrew Heaton on fiddle, Zach McCoy on bass and Michael Paynter on mandolin.

Packway Handle has released four CDs since 2003. The most recent release was last year's "What Are We Gonna Do Now."

The group travels around the country performing more than 200 shows each year. The Times caught up with the group's resident guitarist, Josh Erwin, for a quick interview:

Question: How did you all come together as a band?

A: (In 2001) Tom's brother came to Athens from Colorado to visit. Of course music was involved. We arranged some songs and some of those songs required vocal harmony. Tom, Michael, nor I had ever sung before. We tried it out and it was a blast.

Q: What do you like best about performing bluegrass music?

A: I like performing the music we play because it is not exactly bluegrass. It tends to cross over to people who don't necessarily like bluegrass music and to those that do.

Q: What inspires you as a song writer?

A: I get inspiration from watching and wondering about the gray areas of life and how people have such problems dealing with them.

Q: How would you describe your music to someone who has never seen Packway Handle perform?

A: It's acoustic, alternative bluegrass and experimental music with three- and four-part harmonies. Sometimes we incorporate electric guitar and minimalist standing drum kit.

Q: How does the band's latest album, "What Are We Gonna Do Now," compare to other releases?.

A: It's different because we incorporated more production on the album than we had any other album we recorded. It's fun working with technology and arranging songs. Several songs have extra instruments we don't use on stage.We have kind of embraced the fact that we're not necessarily a bluegrass band trying to make something that is bare-bones acoustic.



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