If at first you don’t recognize the name The Drunken Hearts, that’s okay. But a quick look at the band’s roster might hold a flash of remembrance for local music fans. The five-piece electrified Americana band features two musicians with deep ties to the Northwest Arkansas music scene. Pedal steel and banjo player Cody Russell joined first, and he recruited ace blues guitar slinger Kory Montgomery when The Drunken Hearts’ original guitarist decided to leave the band to focus on his family.
Now, Russell and Montgomery and their bandmates are preparing for a lengthy national tour that includes a homecoming show in support of The Drunken Hearts’ newest album, “The Prize.” The band performs Tuesday (May 29) at George’s Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville. It’s the band’s second-ever appearance in Fayetteville, after a two-show stint at the Fayetteville Roots Festival.
What: The Drunken Hearts
When: 8:30 p.m. May 29
Where: George’s Majestic Lounge, Fayetteville
Cost: A suggested minimum donation of $10
Tickets: $10 stubs.net
Russell, originally from Little Rock, performed in several Fayetteville bands, including the Boston Mountain Boys and Charliehorse. After gigging for a while in Austin, he moved to Denver in October 2012 to play with the since-disbanded neo-country group Mosey West.
The Drunken Hearts, meanwhile, started as a project for guitarist and vocalist Andrew McConathy. When it expanded, the band members sought the services of a pedal steel player. Russell auditioned and was hired in the course of the same evening.
He says it was a good fit – his rock ‘n’ roll approach to the pedal steel blends in well with the jammy, high-octane roots style of The Drunken Hearts.
He would later recommend Montgomery for the Hearts’ vacant guitar role. They had never officially played together in a band, but knew each other well from the Northwest Arkansas music scene and had jammed together. Montgomery, the leader of his own blues band and a guitarist in a Blues Brothers-tribute band, jumped at the chance and moved to Denver in 2014. The was included in the recording process for “The Prize.”
It’s that album the band will feature while on the road. In addition to the Fayetteville show, the Drunken Hearts are confirmed for appearances at the Summer Camp Festival this weekend in Illinois. They’ll also appear on the Sunday night mainstage at the inaugural Grandoozy festival in Denver that features Stevie Wonder performing the headlining set later that night.
The Drunken Hearts have already returned to the studio and have recorded three songs for a new record. They’ll return to the studio between gigs and record several other songs that are ready for the forthcoming project, which will be produced by Tim Carbone of the band Railroad Earth.
Russell said the band will push into Fayetteville immediately after their Summer Camp gig so he and Montgomery can spend as much time in the area as they can before departing for their May 30 gig in Austin, Texas.