Paste Magazine was dead-on when they called The Whiskey Gentry a “toe-tapping, steamrolling kind of band, its fingers picking deep into fields of bluegrass, feet stomping in line with a punk-inspired kick drum.” Formed in 2009 by husband and wife duo Lauren Staley and Jason Morrow, The Whiskey Gentry is a group of seasoned veterans—to put things mildly, some of the finest pickers and musicians the Southeast has to offer.
A recent finalist in the Chris Austin Songwriting Competition held at MerleFest, Staley’s natural gifts with words and her powerful lead vocal abilities complement the band’s edgy interpretation of an otherwise traditional sound. All of this, coupled with a commanding and high-energy live performance, sets the bar for the way today’s country music ought to sound—honest, tight, daring, and void of pretension.
Atlanta Music Guide caught up with Lauren Staley to ask her some questions about the band’s most memorable gigs, their musical influences and how they feel about opening up for Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros at Midsummer Music Fest!
So far, what has been your most memorable gig as a band?
Last summer, we played three, back-to-back sold out gigs at Smith’s Olde Bar and Owen Wilson showed up to the last one. It was already really surreal to have played three nights to such awesome crowds, but then he showed up and the whole place was buzzing.
The Whiskey Gentry is a really cool name. How did you all come up with it?
It’s actually a quote from Hunter S. Thompson. He went to the Kentucky Derby back in the day and called the attendees there “the whiskey gentry – a pretentious mix of booze, failed dreams and a terminal identity crisis.” (If the shoe fits!)
How do you connect with your audience?
We just have fun and are 100% ourselves. If people connect with that, then we’re doing okay.
What is your dream gig? Lineup? Venue?
I just saw some pictures from Sasquatch! Festival out in Washington that looked completely amazing. The line up was insane – everyone from Sigur Rós to Elvis Costello to our buddies Shovels & Rope. It looked like a dream weekend to me.
As a band, what artists/bands inspire you musically?
This changes from every member of the band, but I’d say I’m currently really into a lot of the bands we’ve been touring/playing shows with over the past few years. People like Have Gun Will Travel, Radiolucent, Josh Roberts & The Hinges, Folk Soul Revival. Chances are you aren’t listening to these groups – but you should be.
What makes you most excited about playing Midsummer Music Festival?
We’re excited to get back to our hometown and play this awesome festival with so many talented acts, especially opening for Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Jason and I got married right when their song “Home” broke big, and we walked down the aisle to it. They have a special place for us.
Make sure to check out The Whiskey Gentry at Midsummer Music Fest June 15th! Entry is free! For more information, check out our Midsummer Music Fest blog!