Published on January 29th, 2015 | by Ballard Lesemann0
The Punch List with Josh Roberts
Metronome Charleston‘s recurring “Punch List” series puts local musicians on the spot with a questionnaire that touches on music, venues, gear, records, vices, and more. This week, singer/guitarist Josh Roberts — the main songwriter and frontman with the soulful rock combo Josh Roberts and the Hinges — takes a turn.
1. What is your favorite local hang and why?
“I must admit I don’t do a whole lot of going out, except to play or attend a show, so all of my hangouts are venues. The Pour House feels like family, and so does Home Team BBQ. I like Jack of Cups [on Folly Beach] a lot. Nick [Della Penna] and Leslie [Carroll] have built a really nice place, and the food is great. I’ve been to a couple shows at Royal American, and I’ll definitely be there again. When my wife Leslie and I aren’t being hermits, those are the spots.
2. You know you’ve played an excellent show when…
“I know it’s been an excellent show when it flat-out feels that way. There’s nothing more important. ‘Man, that felt great, and I think the audience agrees!'”
3. What was the last show you attended that really got you fired up in a good or bad way?
“I saw Jack White in Columbia not too long ago, thanks to tickets given to us by my friend Jimmy, and it was spectacular. My favorite shows I’ve seen recently are some of the bands we play with. The Whiskey Gentry, Radiolucent, Have Gun Will Travel, the Royal Tinfoil, the Higher Choir, the Calamity Cubes. Danielle Howle and Jordan Igoe at the Pour House recently was a fantastic show.
4. Define your musical style in exactly 10 words.
“High-energy American melting-pot harmonizing guitar-ripping science fiction.”
5. What’s your theme song?
“My theme song is ‘Eyes Without a Face’ by Billy Idol because it’s so kick-ass.”
6. Gear-wise, what’s is your irreplaceable baby?
“My Caroline Wave Cannon overdrive pedal. It’s a cornerstone for me.”
7. What’s the most overplayed album in your collection?
“I love vinyl, and when I’m listening, the album that’s always in the mix is Aretha Franklin’s Spirit in the Dark [released in 1970]. The song ‘When This Battle is Over’ never fails!”
8. When was the last time you were genuinely star-struck?
“Being around Neil Young felt surreal. My wife and I followed him and Crazy Horse around like puppies one day.”
9. What’s your poison?
“A nice ale.”
10. In 10 years, I will be…
“In 10 years, I will be feeding chickens and writing songs.”
Born and raised in the town of Lancaster (just south of the N.C. border), Josh Roberts landed in Charleston after a long spell in the Columbia area. He spent time on Hilton Head Island as a youngster before relocating to the Irmo (not far from Columbia) where he spent his high school years and early adulthood playing music and working in the Columbia scene.
Longtime fans and colleagues revere Roberts for his raspy singing style, his tastefully and often fiery electric guitar style, and his versatility as a songwriter. With the Hinges, Roberts and his bandmates — singer/rhythm guitarist Leslie Branham Roberts (his wife), drummer/singer Dennis Ware, and bassist/singer Corey Stephens — work from a groove-heavy blend of blues-rock, soul, reggae, country, and a bit of gospel.
Local clubgoers first caught on to Josh Roberts and the Hinges in the late 2000s, shortly after the band released its second studio album, 2008’s raucous My War Cry Is Amor (produced by Alan Moon). Their latest collection is a earthy set of funky and soulful originals titled Mighty Old Distance and Murky Old Time.
Roberts and his wife spent much last year moving from Columbia to Charleston, traveling out West, and recording new original tunes.
“We’re in the mixing stage of a new album now,” Roberts says. “Ryan Monroe [of Band of Horses] was my bandmate in Captain Easy and other earlier bands. He’s producing. He’s doing a great job. We did a week at Quad in Nashville and a week at Southern Tracks in Atlanta. It’s very exciting: new approaches, trying new things. It should be done in the next couple of months.”
“It was really time for a change for all of us, and moving to Charleston seemed the right thing to do,” Roberts adds. “We’ve never all lived in the same town before, and it’s done wonders for our work schedule. Also, Charleston’s pretty great. We’ve felt close to so many people and places here for so long that it doesn’t feel like moving away.”
Josh Roberts and the Hinges kicked off a weekly residency at the Pour House earlier this month, performing every Tuesday evening on the deck stage.
“It’s a guaranteed good time, once-a-week, as well as a challenge we’re enjoying to keep the shows interesting week after week and upgrade our repertoire,” says the bandleader. “We’re adding new songs, bringing back old ones, and learning new covers. It’s great motivation.”
Josh Roberts and the Hinges will play on the deck stage at the Pour House from 6- p.m. on Tues. Feb. 3, Tues. Feb. 10, Tues. Feb. 17, Tues. Feb.24, Tues. March 6, and Tues. March 24. They’ll visit Awendaw Green’s Barn Stage on Wed. Feb. 18, and they’ll hit the newly opened Rusty Rudder in Mt. Pleasant on Thurs. Feb. 19 at 7 p.m.
Visit joshrobertsandthehinges.com for more.
Photos by Ballard Lesemann.
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