Shotgun Friday is blending music with craft beer know-how into an eclectic mix of sounds that co-frontman and banjoist Tony Drewry has dubbed “hill-hop,” a mix of “hillbilly and hip-hop.” Not surprisingly, Drewry is a beer consultant by day.
Drewry, co-frontman Adrian Cook (electric washboard/percussion/vocals), Matthew Broyles (guitar/vocals), and Blackie Graham (bass) have been gigging regularly at regional craft beer breweries and pubs over the past year.
Shotgun Friday is basically Fish Fry Bingo minus founder Dan Benjamin, who suggested they all part ways last August. Broyles, Drewry, and company consider their Fish Fry Bingo days as an incubation period. “We’re much more of a definitive group now … a band of brothers,” Broyles said. We even have a hard time letting other people sit in with us.”
Shotgun Friday’s success could be seen as a reflection of the booming craft beer movement. To fund Fish Fry Bingo’s last album, No Sleep ’Til Memphis, Drewry solicited help from local breweries. The average contribution, he said, was $500.
By performing beer culture-friendly covers and originals like Drewry’s ode to his favorite brew, “Velvet Hammer,” and by sporting clothes with local brewery logos, Shotgun Friday, Broyles said, has created an environment where his band is benefiting from and supporting local breweries.
“It’s kind of like a return to the days of Hank Williams and the Light Crust Doughboys, when they had sponsors,” he said. “We are doing something similar. Small businesses need the help.”
Is Shotgun Friday selling out?
“The people who helped out on the album were friends first and sponsors second,” Drewry said. “We just offered it as an opportunity, and all they got in return was a small copy of their logo on the album’s back.”
Seems there’s a serious market for “hill-hop,” a style that reflects the musicians’ tastes. “We’re all Generation Xers,” Cook said. “Our influences are all over the place, but we’re eclectic within boundaries.”
No matter the song, it’s performed at breakneck speed, a process Drewry calls “shotgunning.” Each tune also has lots of room for improvising. Metallica, Bob Marley, and Cypress Hill are just some of the major artists whose work Shotgun Friday will quote during a set or recording.
Spontaneity is a must, given the band’s, uh, unique rehearsal regimen. “We don’t rehearse,” Broyles said. “Everything is done live, including songwriting.”
A band member with an idea for a new song will discuss the chord progressions with his bandmates minutes before a performance. After a short talk, the song goes live. The kinks get worked out during subsequent performances. Sometimes it takes one or two renditions before the song sounds the way it should, other times 10 or more.
“Shotgun Friday is about throwing disparate musical ideas together and seeing what forms,” Broyles said, noting that sometimes the mix inadvertently “explodes.”
The name “Shotgun Friday,” Drewry said, came easily enough. It started a couple of years ago while he was working as a brewmaster for Rahr & Sons Brewing Company. His idea: to start a craft beer shotgunning movement.
“When I was working at Rahr, we would talk about all the dumb things we’ve done, like shotgunning beers,” Drewry recalled, referring to the act of puncturing a hole in the bottom of a beer can and draining the contents as quickly as possible. “That was about the time we were thinking of a new name.”
Shotgun Friday, Drewry said, is not about reckless behavior or glamorizing alcohol addiction. “When I started the shotgunning craft beer movement, our mission statement was ‘one and done,’ ” he said, meaning just one beer. “This isn’t college, and we want people to behave responsibly.”
Along with a steady schedule of gigs, the band will record its debut album at Absintheory Research Laboratories in Oklahoma City this summer. The yet-unnamed long-player will include at least one original song from each bandmember.
“Our songs are always changing, so recording isn’t about anything being set in stone,” Broyles said. “It’s more about how [the songs] sound right now.”
Drewry said the album will also feature old-timey songs –– but with a Shotgun Friday twist: “Anything we record will be pretty damn fast.”
6:30pm Wed, Jun 11, at Pecan Lodge, 2792 Main St, Dallas. Free. 214-748-8900.