By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
By Gabriel San Roman
From the bosom of the Appalachians, where tales are tall, comes the hillbilly rock band Hayseed Dixie. Frontman Barley Scotch claims that he and his bandmates grew up in Deer Lick Holler, playing their native bluegrass, and happened upon some AC/DC records when an unfortunate driver crashed his car on Devil's Elbow Curve. (If you believe that, we'll tell you another.) Enamored of the records, the boys became convinced that the Young brothers' Highway to Hell and Hank Williams' Lonesome Highway were, in fact -- drum roll, please -- the very same road.
Motives aside, the four musicians began performing countrified versions of the songs, and AC/DC's phonetic twin Hayseed Dixie was born. The initials BS are no accident for Barley Scotch, who speaks -- er, slurs -- for the band and its refreshingly pro-fun, pro-alcohol take on touring. All would be for naught if the band lacked the talent to pull off the ruse, but their musical chops more than make up for their tendency to spin yarns based on the backwoods drinkin'-and-screwin' stereotype. Somewhere between the twang of the banjo and the wail of the fiddle -- or maybe it's between "Back in Black" and "Big Balls" -- the ruse becomes real. Besides, not much can match the thrill of hearing a man drawl, "I've got big balls/And they're such big balls" to the heartfelt plucking of an acoustic guitar.
The AC/DC tribute was so successful, the band recorded a second album of classic-rock favorites, with versions of Queen's "Fat Bottomed Girls" and Ted Nugent's "Cat Scratch Fever," among others. Hayseed Dixie's most recent release, Kiss My Grass: A Hillbilly Tribute to Kiss, may have some wondering when the novelty-cover formula will go stale. But as the elders back in Deer Lick Holler say, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." For now, Hayseed Dixie is content to follow their advice.