Normally, unless I specifically went to a show to see the opening act, I do not write about them. Normally, seeing an opener that I’ve never even heard of doesn’t leave much of an impression. However, judging from the undivided attention the crowd at theOrpheum was giving them, I think I speak for most of the venue when I say the Pine Hill Haints aren’t your normal band.I missed the beginning of the Pine Hill Haints show due to the wife feeling ill and walked in in the middle of a stirring rendition of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”. The first thing I noticed was the contraption that serves as a Bass; a washtub with a nylon rope coming out of the center that is attached to a broomstick. It looks odd, but it was more than adequate. The drummer’s kit is a single snare which he was playing with steel brushes. The bassist and drummer were rounded out by a guitar-playing singer and a girl who played everything from Mandolin to washboard, and even a handsaw at one point. The band plays a self-described style called Appalachian Ghost Music, a style whose name comes from the fact that they are playing a brand of music that they feel is dead in the modern world. As their set unraveled, the crowd stood motionless as if they were indeed staring at ghosts.
I’ve never seen an O’Death show, but I imagine the Pine Hill Haints pull of a similar vibe. For all the talk of ghost and haunting I’ve done, I don’t want you to get the impression that this was some ethereal belly-button lint picking show. For such a minimal stage setup, these guys beat the hell out of it. Jumpin’, hollerin’, and singin ‘, while a crowd who had never heard them before danced and nodded in approval. Matter of fact, the crowd liked them so much that it requested, and was granted, an encore. Everyone I spoke to after the show was utterly impressed.
If these guys come to your neck of the woods, you should go check it out, it’s a damned good time. Then, as so many others did, buy a copy of their debut disc, Ghost Dance. Taking it’s name from the Native American dance of the same name, the band does lose a little of it’s awe-factor in translation from the live show, but it’s still a wonderful effort nonetheless.