Hangtown’s Whiskey Shivers, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades

Whiskey Shivers

Whiskey Shivers shakes the Gallows stage at the Hangtown Music Festival.
Tahoe Onstage photos by Larry Sabo

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What do you do when you walk out on stage and the crowd is the size of the surviving members of the Alamo? You throw some beers back, tell some jokes, and play the shit out of your instruments.

At least that’s how mullet-clad Bobby Fitzgerald (vocals, fiddle), Andrew VanVoorhees (bass, vocals), James Quinn (percussion), Jeff “Horti” Hortillosa (vocals, guitar) and James Bookert (banjo) of Austin, Texas’ Whiskey Shivers decided to handle it at the Hangtown Music Festival’s Gallows Stage.

The band was having a blast tearing through folk, country and bluegrass in double time on the two’s and four’s, the band’s roots-punk style getting an added boon from Quinn’s washboard percussion. Mixing in with hair-pin turn originals like “Gimme All Your Lovin” the band threw in some cockeyed covers like The Cure’s “Friday I’m In Love” and a snippet of Montell Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It” to keep things nice and weird.

With all the laughing and endearing jackassery playing out on stage you could tell the band was there just playing for each other, another day to keep doing what they love. That energy translated into attracting a happy gathering of stompers and clappers like moths to a flame. Everyone left a little happier than when they arrived and little more enlightened too, as Bobby Fitzgerald laid out what hippie chicks and rolled cigarettes have in common (you’ll have to see them to find out). They didn’t know Whiskey Shivers was what they had been looking for, but they answered when called.

-Garrett Bethmann

Larry Sabo / Tahoe Onstage

Wisconsin’s Horseshoes and Hand Grenades has stayed close to the California festival scene in 2016.

Horseshoes and Hand Grenades: A reprisal at Hangtown Gallows

One band that has had a great festival season in California is Horeshoes and Hand Grenades.

The Wisconsin quintet’s years of hard recording and touring in the Bear Republic are starting to pay off with appreciative followers. It started the season with a three-set barn burner at WinterWonderGrass, slayed the audience at High Sierra Music Festival and the group’s Friday set at the Gallows Stage showcased a band firing on all cylinders.

Harking back to yesteryear, the band all harmonized and traded solos over a single microphone as they cruised through their set of old-time folk and bluegrass injected with youthful exuberance. They obviously get a great deal of pleasure out of playing to and for each and other and nothing is more than watching all five gather round to smoke cigarettes and drink beer as they make their way through the traditional Irish song “The Rattlin’ Bog” in quadruple-time. They showed off their influences and range with an electrifying version of Pink Floyd’s “Time” that sent a jolt through the crowd, as well as a tender version of Bob Dylan’s “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” sung by bassist Sam Odin.

The most impressive part though was a knuckled-down, sizable, over-the-hills-and-through-the-woods jam of “Rock of Ages” with fiddler Tim Carbone that segued into “Little Maggie.” Carbone was the elder statesman who came to bring his expertise to the stage and the group was more than happy to welcome him. Horseshoes and Hand Grenades seems to have really energized Carbone as he has always been full of spirit when he sits in with them and he looked downright stoked slinging licks back and forth with Horseshoes’ fiddler Collin Mettelka.

Horseshoes and Hand Grenades have a knack for bringing a sweaty smile to people’s faces whether it be in the crowd or on the stage and there are only more on the horizon for the band.

-Garrett Bethmann

Editor’s note: Tahoe Onstage photographer Larry Sabo and writer Garrett Bethmann captured the essence of the sixth-annual Hangtown Music Festival. They’ve distilled the four-day autumn celebration (2016 edition) into a series of articles and photo essays. Stay tuned this week for their reports.

Related stories:
Gene Evaro shines at Hangtown Music Festival. LINK
Happy campers captured on camera at Hangtown Music Festival. LINK
Hangtown organizer tells how it all started. LINK

Whiskey ShiversWhiskey ShiversLarry Sabo / Tahoe OnstageLarry Sabo / Tahoe Onstagehangtown-8hangtown-1hangtown-5

About Garrett Bethmann

Garrett Bethmann is a graduate of University of Mary Washington with a degree in English. An eight-year resident of Lake Tahoe, he now lives in Denver, Colorado.

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