Herb & Hanson to perform at the Meck

September 11, 2008|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Michael Hanson, of folk rock duo Herb & Hanson, was pretty adamant the band's most recent album title, "The Whiskey Fund," was the result of a running joke.

It was birthed in the band's early days, Hanson said, when a tip jar was placed in front of the set to raise money for whiskey shots after the show - hence the whiskey fund.

While it makes for a pretty good punchline, "The Whiskey Fund" is a serious venture for the Northern Virginia-based twosome, who hope to show Tri-State-area fans how serious they are at a show Saturday night at the Mecklenburg Inn in Shepherdstown.

"No, we're not trying to sell the CD so that we can buy whiskey," said Hanson in a recent phone interview.


"The Whiskey Fund," the band's third album, is Herb & Hanson's first professionally produced album. Echoes Studios in Sharpsburg did the honors, Hanson said. The album was released in 2006.

He says the band has come far since their first album, self-titled, which they recorded in a buddy's basement. The duo has reworked some of their older stuff and want to get it on wax, soon, to show off their artistic growth, Hanson said.

Hanson and the band's other half, Herb Manila, first played together during the 1990s when they were high school seniors, as part of another band. Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, and Jerry Garcia's bluegrass stuff were major influences, Hanson said. But it wasn't until 1998 when Herb and Hanson decided to start doing shows together. They started off on the open-mic circuit and worked their way up to standing gigs at bars.

Hanson and Manila split songwriting duties. They've got 70 to 80 of their own songs, though they keep around 35 in regular rotation at live shows.

About Herb & Hanson

Guitar, vocals - Michael Hanson

Guitar, mandolin - Herb Manila

Region: Northern Virginia

Influences: Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia, Bob Dylan, John Hartford

Genre: Folk rock, bluegrass, Americana

Upcoming show: 9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 13, Mecklenburg Inn, Shepherdstown, W.Va. Call 304-876-2126 for more information.

Web:; Myspace:

Q&A with Michael Hanson

Doing all those open mics, how did that help you guys out, as far as your stage show, today?
It definitely helped. It taught us how to create a bit of a stage presence.

So for this most recent CD, why go the professional route?
Part of it was we felt we were serious enough in our career that we wanted to make the best choice possible.

You know, there's been some time since that album came out. Do you guys have a backlog of new stuff?
We actually have three projects we are working on. We're working on an all-original album ... we're working on a John Hartford tribute album ... we're also trying to get together a high-quality live recording.

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