Life at the Bar
The Bearfoot Hookers are a fiercely independent, honest and scrappy band that blends traditional country, blues, and rock & roll sounds into a mixture they call Beer Drinkin' Gospel. It's edgy like Johnny Cash, groovy like the Stones, often comical like Todd Snider, and full of swampy grit and flavor like Lynyrd Skynyrd and Gram Parsons. Hooker songs make you want to dance, sing, holler, drink, and, if the opportunity presents itself, wrestle an alligator. This band will rock and roll you like a whiskey powered runaway locomotive. Based in Athens, GA, The Bearfoot Hookers have deep roots in small South Georgia towns like Waycross (childhood home of Gram Parsons). That explains the swampy feel of the band's original songs written primarily by members Ty Manning (guitar, vocals), Mark Durfield (guitar, vocals), and Jon Tonge (bass). The often conflicting lessons learned while growing up in the Deep South and a penchant for living a little harder than is good for them have generated more than a few memorable songs. The soulful playing of Scott Nicholson (piano, organ) brings a gospel feel that makes even the roughest honky-tonk feel like a place of worship. The music and stories are often about contradictions... that's Beer Drinkin' Gospel. The Hookers have established a hard-earned reputation for rowdy, foot-stompin', three hour (or more) shows built upon their huge catalog of original songs, and lots of deep cut covers for extra flavor. They have a talent for connecting with audiences, even those who have never heard The Hookers play before, and are at home in venues of all sizes; from The Georgia Theatre to a barbecue joint in Waycross. Hooker shows are known for being raucous, raise your drink in the air, shout out 'hell yeah' kind of affairs... that's Beer Drinkin' Gospel. The Bearfoot Hookers formed in 2003 and quickly recorded Sweet Pickle Grits. The full-length debut CD was eagerly received by the band's growing base of fans. A steady performing schedule throughout Georgia followed, motivating the band to record and release their second CD, Life at the Bar, in 2004. The reviewing press began to take notice and The Bearfoot Hookers were selected as one of Flagpole Magazine's 'Bands to Watch in 2005'. The Hookers recieved comparisons to Athens musical heroes The Drive-By Truckers and Redneck GReece Deluxe as well as national acts The Bottle Rockets and Wet Willy. Regular performances continued throughout 2005 and 2006. The track 'Beggar's Prayer' from Life at the Bar was selected for inclusion on the 2005 AthFest Compilation CD. In 2006 The Bearfoot Hookers were presented with the Flagpole Music Award for the best band in the 'Country, Americana, Roots Rock' category, a true honor shared with the band's many loyal fans. The track 'I'd Rather Two-Step (than Twelve-Step)' was chosen for the 2006 AthFest Compilation CD. And most recently, the track 'Rain Don't Stop the Trains' was chosen for the 2007 AthFest Compilation CD - Volume 2. Shawn Collins (former Connor Rand & the Red Dirt Band) joined The Bearfoot Hookers on drums in early 2007. In 2008, The Hookers were again honored with a Flagpole Music Award for best band in the Country category. Marcus Thompson, Mississippi born guitarist and good friend of the band, began playing regularly with The Hookers this year, adding a blues slide flavor to what is now a three guitar assualt of country rockin' music. And original Hooker drummer, Josh Skelton rejoined the band in late 2008. Now, an ever growing supply of new songs are getting the Polish that comes from playing them live and the band has begun recording for an upcoming third full length album. And so the Beer Drinkin' Gospel Revival train keeps rollin' on. All aboard! Hookers In The Press... Macon Telegraph, Macon, GA November 18, 2005 Gig Guide, by Dan Malley 'This country-rock band from Athens might be taking it's motto of 'beer-drinkin' gospel' a little too seriously. These honky-tonk evangelists promise to baptize a youngster during tonight's show. Think twice, mama. Don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys or Hookers. These guys pass around a bottle of Jack Daniels during shows and sing tunes like 'I'd Rather Two-Step than 12-Step.' This will be the Hookers' fourth gig in Macon in as many months. The locals are beginning to see the light - through bloodshot eyes.' The Eleventh Hour, Macon, GA November 16, 2005 'This is one of our favorite bands that come through Macon. Beer drinking gospel, good time religion, locking jaws with traditional country, rock and roll. You'd expect them to come riding up in a '57 Chevy, with old amps, pedal steels and nearly rotten boots. They can create a whiskey slinging, dancing, throw your hat on the floor and stomp on it kind of party within minutes of arriving too.' AMPED, Macon Telegraph Music Blog, Macon, GA September 4, 2005 Georgia Boys Gone Wild, by Maggie Large 'Pretty much all you need to know about The Bearfoot Hookers is that they are the kind of band that passes around a bottle of Jack Daniels during their show. If bar bands were on one side of the railroad tracks and honky-tonks were on the other, the Hookers would be the hobos inside the freight train boxcar.' Flagpole Magazine, Athens, GA July 19, 2005 Review of Life at the Bar, by Michael Andrews 'The Bearfoot Hookers are becoming the little bar band that could... [playing] country-influenced rock that harkens back to when the Allmans were young and reckless and 'outlaw' was a new, hip way to describe an independent breed of country performer.' Morgan County Citizen, Madison, GA July 14, 2005 It's a good 'Life at the Bar' for Hookers by Brooke Hatfield 'For some hipsters, there is a stigma attached to any act associated with Southern rock. But in this age of irony and emo, four guys who just want to take some shots and take to the stage to play some 'beer drinkin' gospel' is revolutionary. And believe me, the Bearfoot Hookers like beer.' Flagpole Magazine, Athens, GA February 16, 2005 Wild, Wooly, Lonesome, and Local, by Michael Andrews 'In fact, if there were a grading scale of what makes a consummate bar band, the Hookers would excel with flying colors.' Flagpole Magazine, Athens, GA December 29, 2004 Bands to Watch in 2005, by Michael Andrews 'On Sweet Pickle Grits, released earlier this year, the Bearfoot Hookers come off as a fiery combination of the Bottle Rockets, Southern-rock-greats Wet Willie and the David Allen Coe 'dirty' albums (minus the racism and homophobia, but not the good-natured misogyny). In Athens, terms, the rowdy four-piece recklessly wobbles along with the same torch previously carried by such warts-'n'-all performers as Redneck GReece and the Drive-By Truckers. With an impressive debut under their belt, a consistent performing schedule and the new album Life at the Bar about ready, the Hookers will likely pick up steam in '05. (That is, barring any AA interventions or bizarre religious conversions derailing this whiskey-powered locomotive.)' Athens Banner Herald, Athens, GA September 1, 2004 On the Record Player, by Carla LeFever 'Ty Manning and his band of merry men have just finished recording at Chase Park and I've got a copy! This band is full of fun, raunch and roll. Add a tablespoon of country, a dash of funk, an alligator and a cold beer and you've got the Bearfoot Hookers.'