CINCINNATI, Ohio. (May 16, 2014) – Just moments before they took the stage in front of a sold out crowd at Toby Keith’s I love this Bar & Grill, the five members of country music’s hottest new group Pistol Holler gathered together to go over last minute details and offer words of encouragement to each other. Then, as Johnny Cash’s “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” began to play, Josh Cupp, Jeff Benge, Randy Gaines and Jason Benge took their place on the darkened stage. As the song finished, the lights went up, and the crowd cheered, lead singer Ryan PA Johnson took the stage.
From that moment on, and for the next 90 minutes, the sold out crowd at Toby Keith’s were taken for a rocking ride through a set of original Pistol Holler music and familiar cover songs that blended seamlessly thanks to Pistol Holler’s signature sound. With five members having roots in gospel, county, and even metal, Pistol Holler is country music for those who don’t feel the need to be boxed in by genre labels or generations. In fact, the song that tends to garner the most attention from fans and the music industry alike, is their modern Pistol Holler version of the Johnny Cash classic “Folsom Prison Blues.”
The remake of such a classic is only the beginning of what makes Pistol Holler so unique. Their fans are truly appreciative of how they can go from rocking a song like “Folsom Prison Blues”, to their country music staple party song “White Pickup Truck”, to their new, powerful single “My Hometown.” “My Hometown”, a tribute to the small hometown roots of many of the members of Pistol Holler, is the first single from their third album titled “#MakinMemories,” and is produced by legendary Nashville producer Kenny Beard.
According to guitarist Josh Cupp, “ I come from a little town like the one in the song. A couple of stoplights and a few thousand people. So it spoke to me. It sort of takes you back to wherever your hometown is. When you start thinking about your hometown, typically you are remembering good things, fun times, old friends etc. No matter where you come from, everyone has those memories and can relate in some way to the song.” Lead Singer Ryan PA Johnson echoed a similar sentiment, “I think everyone’s hometown holds special memories in their heart and the video can get you thinking about those memories and your loved ones. Especially the loved ones we’ve lost.”
While the song in itself is a moving homage to the hometown that it is each one of our hearts, the video, according to Josh, “puts a gut-wrenching spin on the lyrics.” Drummer Jason Benge explained, “The video has a few meanings but the most influential is the tribute to the troops overseas fighting for our freedom. So many times we take for granted what we have here in America, and so many lives have been lost just so we can have freedom. It makes me appreciative and sad at the same time.” Jason’s brother and guitarist Jeff Benge added, “Our military are truly the heroes of our country and I am really proud to be a part of this. It gives us the opportunity to say thank you to them with something more than words.”
Whether they realize it or not, one of the things that their fans love and appreciate most is how they give back to them each and every time they step on stage. The energy, the charisma, and the showmanship that they bring to every show- not just for screaming sold out crowds like tonight’s at Toby Keith’s- is what the fans love and keeps them coming back for more. When Ryan asks the crowd, “Who wants to hear some Johnny Cash?” the whole crowd cheered but there were those cheers from the Pistol Holler “Hollerheads” that were just a bit louder than the rest because fans like Angie Wood know it wasn’t just “any ole’ cover” that was about to take place.
Wood discovered the band in 2012 and recalls seeing that first show at a multiple artist benefit. “Pistol Holler began to play and immediately I knew that they were going make a huge impact in the country music world one day. AMAZING talent from vocals, to instruments, to harmonies- I was HOOKED!!! I have been probably one of the BIGGEST fans ever since. I have been to many of their shows since that first event. I joined the “Fam-Club” and got to know the band on a more personal level. They truly make you feel like family.” When asked what she thought about Pistol Holler’s performance before the sold out crowd, “AMAZING! The Pistol Holler boys truly know how to entertain the crowd.”
Most of their fans would agree with Wood that Pistol Holler has an amazing way of entertaining their fans. Regardless of whether it’s the deep, meaningful “My Hometown” or the rowdy, Pistol Holler version of “Folsom Prison Blues” there is no mistaking the one of a kind magic that happens when Ryan, Randy, Jeff, Jason, and Josh take the stage. As the guys closed out their 90 minute set for the sold out crowd at Toby Keith’s who were singing along enthusiastically to their songs that night, one can only wonder what the future holds for the five men of Pistol Holler. Considering the talent, energy, dedication, and the magic that IS Pistol Holler, one can only assume it will be a bright one.