June 20, 2018 10:52:05 AM
Though Big Hoss and the Little Joes may be less than a year old, the band's five members are no strangers to Columbus' music scene.
Three members -- Gary Shaw, Bobby Shannon and Mike Chain -- combined talents in the local rock and roll band Freeway. Dale Robertson, lead vocals and guitar, has played in at least seven bands since he was 17. And steel guitarist Raymond Miller performed with Robertson's father for many years in Gene Robertson and the Echoes.
Those endeavors, though, don't begin to encompass each performer's musical resume.
"Each one of those guys are incredibly gifted musicians. They're probably the top guys around here," Dale said. "They all get asked to play in a lot of different bands, even if it's just a throw-together or that type of thing. They're all professional musicians."
Thursday's Sounds of Summer concert at 7 p.m. at the Columbus Riverwalk will be Big Hoss and the Little Joes' first performance as a group. The band has practiced for about a month, with Shaw on drums; Shannon on keyboard, guitar and mandolin; Chain on bass; Miller on steel guitar; and Dale on lead guitar. All sing except Miller.
Their specialty is 80s and 90s country, pulling from the music of Alan Jackson, Shenandoah, Travis Tritt and others.
According to Dale, he, Shaw, Shannon, Chain and others created the Catdaddys in 2003, and "that's kind of how (Big Hoss) was born."
"We were playing a Catdaddys rock band gig, and the drummer, Gary Shaw, mentioned how much he'd like to put together a country band," Dale said.
He was on board, as that was the music his dad, Gene, loved to play. Dale said his late father inspires him, and playing country with his dad's band was how Dale got his start.
"Country was one of those things I kind of always wanted to go back to because I can't stand the style of music on the radio today they call country," Dale said.
He and Shaw met when they were kids and both played with Gene Robertson and the Echoes at one point.
"It was one of those return to old roots for both of us," Dale said.
"For me, (Big Hoss) was a nod back to my father," he added. "It was a return to the music I played with him."
Chain describes the group as "a band of brothers."
He's played country music before in variety bands, but Big Hoss and the Little Joes is the first group with which he's played dedicated solely to country western.
Chain, the band's bass guitarist, said he always knew he wanted to play music. What he didn't know was what instrument he would master.
"I bought a $5 drum set from a friend of mine at school when I was a kid -- couldn't play it," Chain said. "Bought an acoustic guitar from somewhere, had six strings on it, and I couldn't play it. I saw a guy on TV, and his guitar only had four strings on it, so I took a hacksaw and cut off the top two strings and called myself a bass player."
Now, Chain's played bass for "longer than (he) cares to admit." Like his bandmates, Chain's life has always revolved around music.
"We're part of a community of musicians that has worked together in different bands and played just about any genre of music you wanna talk about," he said. "We're just friends doing what we like to do with people we like to do it with."
As for the band's name, Dale said a "young guy" at Mississippi State University -- where he and Chain both work, the former as the audio/visual services coordinator and the latter as a sound engineer -- suggested it, based off characters from a 1960s NBC television western series.
"That's the hardest thing in the world -- coming up with a band name," Dale said. "In this particular instance it started as a joke and just kind of stuck."
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