10 Questions for Josh Erwin from Packway Handle

  Who are you?

We’re a Bluegrass-quintet from Athens, GA playing Bluegrass w/ a vengeance. (Josh plays guitar.)

 Where are you now? Where are y’all from originally?

Right now [2/28] we’re in Hailey, ID. We’re playing at the Sun Valley Brewery tomorrow night, and Whiskey Jacques’ on Thursday. We spent about a week and a half in CO, another week and a half in MT, then this week in Idaho. Our home for the band is Athens, GA. We left there for this tour on January 31.

 What do you do?

We play bluegrass the way we see fit…there’s plenty of original compositions we perform at shows, lots of creepy end-of-the-world gospel tunes, some old-time fiddlin’, and some bluegrassified ‘80’s cover songs by bands like The Cars, Violent Femmes, and David Byrne. [By the way, there’s free downloadable MP3s at www.packwayhandle.com…check the “tunes” tab]

 Why do you do whatever it is you do?

Right now, we’re touring as a band because the time’s finally come to quit the day jobs. We’ve done tours before, but they’ve never been able to be more than 2-3.5 weeks long. It will be 5 years this spring since we’ve been playing together, and our sound has been honed during that duration. There’s value in what we’re doing and the way that we play music… I believe that because there really is an original way that we portray bluegrass. It’s definitely not done in the way it was done in the 1950s and ‘60s… We’re not trying to preserve the original Bill Monroe’s style of playing bluegrass. There are so many more ways we’ve found to use the standard bluegrass instruments [banjo, mandolin, fiddle, guitar, and bass] to play the music we like.

 What are you working on?

Right now, we’re working on a standard of quality and consistency of quality from show to show. That’s one of the good things about playing & performing music full time in a band- together- everyday at a new venue. Also, there’s some new original tunes that we’re writing/composing for the spring.

 What’s next?

When we get back home to [be based out of] Athens we’re going to begin our 3rd album. This one will be an all original album. There’s been some stuff that Michael & I have written that we’ve been playing for a while, and also some other new stuff that needs to be laid down and recorded.

 Are you by any chance on your way to SxSW?

Yes! We’re going to crash the streets w/ the acoustic instruments that whole week. We’re working on playing the Flagpole suite. The Flagpole Magazine is Athens, GA’s town paper. They get a suite every year and host all kinds of bands, and usually have home town bands come through to play. [By the way, why do you ask about that?] (Educated guess: We’re looking at a slew of bands stopping in Humboldt on their way to or from Austin and SxSW.)

 What’s a Packway Handle?

Exactly…think about tourette’s syndrome.

 What is going on in the graveyard?

Probably somethin’ you’ve never seen…

 The Packway Handle Band plays Sunday, March 5 at Six Rivers Brewery, McKinleyville and Monday, March 6 at Heartwood Institute south of Garberville,



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