Pistol Holler Behind the Music: Flashback to Florida Show

EUSTIS, Fla. (May 28th, 2014) – Approximately two months before the Memorial Day release of their new video “My Hometown,” Ohio based country music group Pistol Holler brought “The Holler” to Eustis, otherwise known as “America’s Hometown” as they headlined the kickoff concert for Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter’s 25th Anniversary Celebration. Being the first time to Florida for the band as a whole, and even the first time to Florida for some of the band members, it was an evening of firsts for both the band and the crowd alike.

Habitat Lake-Sumter, Pistol Holler, Country Music

EUSTIS, Fla. (March 28, 2014) Guitarist Jeff Benge and Bassist Randy Gaines on stage during the Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter’s 25th Anniversary concert. (Photo: Bonnie Whicher Photography).

While it may have been a new state, a new city, a new setting, and in front of a new crowd, the true professionalism and experience of Pistol Holler shined through as they brought the magic that is their live performance for their entire ninety minute set- rain drops and all.  So, whether they are playing sold out crowds at Toby Keith’s I Love this Bar and Grill in their hometown of Cincinnati, or making new fans in Eustis, there is no denying there is something special that happens with Pistol Holler takes the stage. So, while a magician never reveals their secret, perhaps learning more about the men of Pistol Holler can provide a bit of insight.

Ryan PA Johnson- Lead Singer and Acoustic Guitar

Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter, country music, Ryan Johnson, Pistol Holler

EUSTIS, Fla. (March 28, 2014) Lead Singer Ryan PA Johnson on stage during the Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter’s 25th Anniversary concert. (Photo: Bonnie Whicher Photography).

Johnson, who sites musical influences as diverse as Boyz II Men, Matchbox 20, Garth Brooks, Keith Urban, NEEDTOBREATHE and everything in between, feels that one of his biggest personal musical achievements to date was, “being on Season 8 of American Idol early in my career. It was a growing experience to be in a professional atmosphere around people in that level of the music industry. It taught me what was expected of me as an artist.”

While Johnson has been in successful bands and had the experience of releasing several albums, he still appreciates, “the sense of accomplishment when you hear your songs on the radio or see them available on iTunes. More so, over the past few years, having been accepted by a management team like Sprocket Entertainment, and developing both a working relationship and friendship with top Nashville producer Kenny Beard, has given me a sense of value that I’d never felt before. It’s nice to have people recognize your talent and believe in you and want to work to make you successful.”

Jason Benge- Drums

Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter, Pistol Holler, country music, Jason Benge

EUSTIS, Fla. (March 28, 2014) Drummer Jason Benge on stage during the Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter’s 25th Anniversary concert. (Photo: Bonnie Whicher Photography).

Having played drums since his early teens, he was a fixture of the Cincinnati music scene by 2000, professionally playing and recording with a multitude of diverse artists, including legendary drummers and artists in Nashville. Jason most notably started a very successful Christian band and has sang on several nationally charting Christian music industry singles, but has also played drums with countless jazz, rock, funk, R&B, blues, gospel, fusion and ethnic musicians.

Despite his many musical successes to date, when asked what he feels is his most notable musical accomplishment, Jason shared, “I got to play a showcase at the NAMM Show a few years back with my childhood hero- bass player Victor Wooton.” In addition to Wooton, Jason’s other musical influences include Kenny Hinson and Benny Greb.

Jeff Benge- Guitar and Vocals

Jeff Benge, Pistol Holler, country music, habitat for humanity of lake-sumter

EUSTIS, Fla. (March 28, 2014) Guitarist Jeff Benge on stage during the Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter’s 25th Anniversary concert. (Photo: Bonnie Whicher Photography).

There is a second Benge in Pistol Holler – Jason’s brother Jeff. Guitarist Jeff Benge has drawn inspiration from a vast array of artists, and admits to “stealing” from the likes of Eddie Van Halen, Johnny Winter, and Paul Gilbert- men he holds in very high regard.

However, he also holds in high regard another time when he shared the stage with his brother. “Jason and I were in a band together, and that band had 6 charting songs nationally.” While he feels that was his greatest personal musical achievement to date, Jeff is also appreciative of the present and looks toward the future. “Being a part of Pistol Holler, I love being surrounded by great musicians and great people. They make it so much fun. I’m really looking forward to doing my part to take this band to a full time level where we can concentrate on music only.”

Josh Cupp- Guitar and Vocals

EUSTIS, Fla. (March 28, 2014) Guitarist Josh Cupp on stage during the Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter's 25th Anniversary concert. (Photo: Bonnie Whicher Photography).

EUSTIS, Fla. (March 28, 2014) Guitarist Josh Cupp on stage during the Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter’s 25th Anniversary concert. (Photo: Bonnie Whicher Photography).

Very similar to his Pistol Holler counterparts, guitarist Josh Cupp has drawn inspiration from a wide variety of influences, including Brent Mason, Vince Gill, Steve Warner, Johnny Hiland, Kelly Back, Eddie Van Halen, Kirk Hammet, and James Hetfield.

When asked about what he feels is his biggest personal musical accomplishment, Josh shared that his personal highlights center primarily on his time as a studio musician where he has played on approximately 450 different albums. “I have been blessed to have laid tracks or played with some amazing musicians such as Clay Hess (Ricky Skaggs, Kentucky Thunder), Adam Steffey (Allison Kraus, Mountain Heart), Ben Isaacs (The Isaacs), Mike Cleveland (Rhonda Vincent), Greg Martin (Kentucky Headhunters), John Willis (Kenny Chesney, Gary Allen, Faith Hill, Shania Twain), Lawrence Bishop Jr. (Bride), Jesse Tripplet (Jana Kramer, Collective Soul), Seth Morrison (Skillet), David Lessing (Blessed Union of Souls).”

Randy Gaines- Bass Guitar

HFH Pistol Holler _251

EUSTIS, Fla. (March 28, 2014) Bassist Randy Gaines on stage during the Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter’s 25th Anniversary concert. (Photo: Bonnie Whicher Photography).

Bass Guitarist Randy Gaines joined “The Holler” in January when previous bassist Danny Williams retired. Randy brings assorted musical inspirations and energy to the stage each night. Randy shared, “I have several musical influences, from my Dad playing mandolin & guitar around me at an early age, to my mother and two sisters ALWAYS having music playing. I was raised musically diverse that way. As far as the bass, my friend Todd turned me on to it when I was about 15 or 16. I picked it up quickly & was significantly influenced by Steve Harris of Iron Maiden. Since then, I’ve been inspired by players such as Stu Hamm, John Paul Jones, James Jamerson, Louis Johnson, Pino Palladino, Steve DiGiorgio, Michael Manring, Verdine White, and Jerry Scheff. I’ve also been inspired by every musician I’ve ever had the fortune to play with.”

“Touring and seeing new sites as I meet new people has been a highlight for me, as well as opening for both national and local acts. I had never left the state of Ohio before playing in a band, and it is still how I have traveled the most. However, the most personal musical achievement that has meant the most to me so far has been writing lyrics & seeing strangers sing them back to me. There’s no better feeling than that- as well as receiving fan mail telling you how a song has touched someone in someway. It can even be a different meaning than originally penned, but to see & hear how it’s affected the person is very moving.”

As their set came to a close that night in Eustis, Ryan, Randy, Jason, Josh, and Jeff were greeted by excited fans all wanting to shake hands, take pictures, and have their new Pistol Holler shirts signed by the five men who left it all out on the stage for them that night and became the newest members of “America’s Hometown.”

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