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5 Questions with the Packway Handle Band

Athens-based bluegrass band to perform at Crimson Moon

POSTED: July 26, 2012 12:30 a.m.

Since hitting the road full time in 2006, the Packway Handle Band isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.

At 7:30 p.m. Sunday, they’ll hit the stage at Crimson Moon, 24 North Park St. in Dahlonega. Tickets for the performance are $18 or $16 in advance. They can purchased online at www.thecrimsonmoon.com or by calling 706-864-3982.

The band members include: Tom Baker, Josh Erwin, Andrew Heaton, Zach McCoy and Michael Paynter. Between the five of them, Packway Handle is a force to be reckoned with on the banjo, guitar, fiddle, bass and mandolin.

In addition to their musical showmanship, the band’s four-part harmonies and two-steps have been keeping audiences quite entertained over the last few years.

The Athens-based bluegrass band typically plays around 200 shows every year. Erwin recently took a break from rehearsals and recording to speak with The Times about the band’s latest happenings:

Question: You guys have basically been touring nonstop nationwide and even internationally, for the last five years. How do you line up tour dates?

Answer: We started out booking shows on our own, but then in 2007 we signed with an agency. That relationship lasted for about a year and a half, but then we figured we could do nearly everything they could on our own. After that ended, I’d say that I booked about 90 percent of our gigs. I booked them, but we would get together and make decisions about what’s best for the group.

In January we signed with a new booking agency, Blue Mountain Artists, based out of Charlotte. They have a pretty good blues and acoustic roster, so we’re looking forward to building our relationship.

Q: What has your touring schedule been like this year?

A: This year has been a lighter traveling year than others because we’re being more selective about where we’re going and which offers we’re taking. Over the years, we’ve played every state except for Iowa and Hawaii. We decided to (focus on) the areas where we have done well. That, of course, includes the Southeast and even a few New England areas. We’ve also always had a good relationship with (venues) in Colorado because of all the competitions we do there.

Q: Your last album, “What Are We Gonna Do Now,” was released in 2010. Are there any new projects in the works?

A: There are two albums that we are on the verge of getting completed. We’re about halfway done on both. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get something out in the spring.

Q: Can you tell us more about those two projects?

A: One is a live album and we have collection of recordings that we are more or less pleased with. The other is an acoustic tribute to the new wave band, Devo, (who recorded the song, “Whip It.”) Over the years, we’ve grown to really like those guys. We can relate to them a lot as a group.

Q: You guys have played everywhere from wide-open festival arenas to more intimate venues. Where does this weekend’s show in Dahlonega fall?

A: Crimson Moon is more or less a listening room, which we like. Unlike in a club, the focus is on listening to the band, not dancing. We’re not adverse to playing in a club or playing music people can dance to, but it’s a very different atmosphere.

It’s a different kind of energy and there are different kinds or interactions that take place. In a listening room, you’re able to establish more of a conversation with your audience.


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