Getting to the roots at Godfrey Daniels
What drives a group of young men to leave the comforts of home, forgo the stability of a nine-to-five paycheck, and tour nearly year-round?
The members of Girls, Guns and Glory can tell you. Music has been their ticket to see the United States and beyond, and they embrace meeting people from all walks of life.
With three album releases in as many years, their fourth release, "Sweet Nothings" is a celebration of fun-loving and hard times, and possesses a honky-tonk style that is both casual and complex. The Boston-based band's fifth album, "Good Luck," is to be released Feb. 4 on Lonesome Day Records.
Girls, Guns and Glory is in concert, 8 p.m. Jan. 25, Godfrey Daniels, 7 E. Fourth St., Bethlehem.
GGG's founder and lead vocalist, Ward Hayden, is a crooner who's been compared to Chris Isaak and Lyle Lovett. Hayden, who hails from Scituate, Mass., spoke in a recent phone interview following six weeks of shows.
"The town's name is derived from a tribe of Indians," says Hayden of Scituate, located on the South Shore between Boston and Plymouth.
Hayden and his band mates met as college students on the Boston music scene. Chris Hersch, electric guitar, is from Orefield, North Whitehall Township. Paul Dilley, bass, is from Doylestown. Drummer is Josh Kiggans.
"The band started as a sole endeavor," says Hayden. "The first album [in 2005] was not yet [that of] a band. With the second album, we were just becoming a band. By 2011, it was a true collaborative effort after two years of touring and recording."
The four members have a love of American Roots music, or Americana. The group's music is a mix of rock 'n' roll, country, and rhythm and blues and roots music. The style, dubbed alternative country, is attracting a new generation of fans.
"A funny comment we used to hear a lot was, 'This is my grandfather's music,'" says Hayden. "In 2006, when I played [roots music], I could've been singing [in] a different language."
Hayden now sees a strong interest in Americana among younger fans. "It has really caught on. Roots music programs are now offered in local colleges. You can study fiddle or banjo."
Hayden's own interest in Americana started when he was 20 and borrowed his mother's cassette tapes on a drive back to college. "The first tape was Johnny Cash, and it was everything I'd been looking for. The songs had impact. It was primal music with honest lyrics." He adds with a chuckle, "I'd had my heart broken so I was in a position to accept country music into my life."
Hank Williams is Hayden's biggest influence, so much so that the band does a tribute show, which is in its fourth year. It is, in essence, a celebration of the shows that Hank Williams wasn't able to perform. Hayden explains, "We do a New Year's Eve show. Hank missed his last one due to bad weather.
"Then we do a New Year's Day show, which Hank never got to perform because he passed away. His life, albeit short and tragic, was so interesting. I can't figure out why Hollywood hasn't done a high-caliber movie about his life."
Hayden says he sees the crowds getting larger at the tribute shows: "There are ages 18 to 80 in the audience. It's a real testament to how timeless Hank's music is."
GGG tours extensively, including Europe once or twice a year. "Roots music has really taken off there, especially in France. We won 'Independent Artist of the Year' at the French Country Music Awards. So, we get to travel [in] France."
They've also twice won "Americana Act of the Year" at the Boston Music Awards and "Roots Act of the Year" at the Boston Phoenix [newspaper] Awards.
The heavy touring doesn't prevent the band from staying grounded. "A good balance is important," says Hayden. "It's important to be a regular person, and to be home with people you care about."