Articles about the Mystery Hillbillies:
We got a nice mention in the triangle’s favorite entertainment newspaper, IndyWeek, ahead of our July (2016) show at the Kraken-
“It’s no mystery why these self-described hillbillies have been movers and shakers on the rockabilly and honky-tonk scenes for over two decades. Conjuring up the mojo of heavy hitters ranging from Hank Williams to Chuck Berry to Buddy Holly, frontwoman Michelle Belanger, bassist F.J. Ventre, and guitarist Lance White keep it fresh and rockin’.” —Grant Britt
-from the article: Michelle Belanger of the Mystery Hillbillies said that she has “a deep respect for Johnny for a number of reasons.” … “I can relate to the way he is comfortable walking in many different worlds, and yet, always being just a little different. He just had a lot of grace.”
The Mystery Hillbillies opened the show with a barn burning set of tightly focused, three-piece high-lighted by Michelle Belanger’s lived-in vocals. Hillbillies regular Calvin Johnson on the upright came the closest to Americana, easing the crowd into the evening connecting the mountain pickers to urban hot-rodders in a tactile way. The addition of a drummer and electric guitar brought on the Memphis and allowed their set to bridge that gap from the Carter Family Fold in Virginia to Johnny’s electrified Nashville career. Belanger’s stage presence and singing are warm, like sitting on a porch and listening to her croon over a chorus of crickets.
This article is about the Green Heron Alehouse, one of several neighborhood bars we love to play.
“I think of the word “bad-ass” when I think of you. Confident, talented, cool, humorous, skilled….bad-ass!” -Anastasia Maddox vocals, uke, harmonica and kazoo http://www.bulltownstrutters.org/
‘Michelle, I love come to hear you play because I can pretend I’m you and it makes me feel sassy!” -Tami Reichert
The first time I heard the Mystery Hillbillies was at Fishers Grill in Greensboro. If you’ve ever been to Fishers, you know that a packed house gets pretty loud in there. In the middle of a conversation, I heard this booming voice that stopped me in mid-sentence. I had to peek over the booth to see who this was – and there was Michelle – this huge smile on her face as she started belting out “Daddy Was a Preacher.” My first reaction was, how the heck does such a powerful sound come out of such a petite gal? But you know the old saying, “Don’t judge a book…?” Well, it’s true. She packs a punch, and so does the rest of the band.
There are lots of groups in the area that play good music, but they don’t really bring you into the performance — don’t make a connection. Watching this band, I felt as if I had gone back in time to the days of watching the “Porter Wagoner Show” with my Pa-Paw on the weekends. Their music is authentic – a fun little trip down memory lane. It’s comforting. And it makes you want to get up, pull off your shoes, and do a little dancin’ (even though shoeless is probably not a good idea in a bar).
I’ve seen the Mystery Hillbillies play at Prissy Polly’s in Kernersville, and the crowd loved them. It takes a certain kind of presence to keep customers in their seats after they’ve finished dinner, and this group can do it. Couples were slow-dancing to Patsy Cline songs, shouting out requests, and the band kept delivering. This older gentleman slowly made his way to the front row and took a seat to listen. By the end of the show, he was clapping and stomping his feet with a huge smile on his face. Now THAT’S what music is all about, isn’t it? Go see them. They’re musical medicine for the soul.
-Leigh Tysor Olsen -singer with Piedmont Blues Society Blues Challenge winners (2013), Toot and the Longshots https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vb8qDbK-CD0
I just wanted to say a few words about an awesome rockabilly/blues/Texas swing group known as The Mystery Hillbillies. They do a great mix of tunes from many different styles and artists. What I love best about them is their ability to make each song their own. I would compare their music to a mix of Brenda Lee, Hank Williams and Marty Stuart. Michelle Belanger’s voice just soars and I can’t help but throw back my head and move my feet. If you like being moved to action (dancing your fanny off) you can’t miss seeing and hearing this great local talent!!
-Justin Phillips of Mocksville, NC
Please leave a comment!
Have you seen the Mystery Hillbillies? Did you just find us? Please introduce yourself, or let us know you were here.