The Freight Hoppers

The Freight Hoppers - Waiting on the Gravy Train

My father used to rent rooms and he’d get all sorts of interesting transients staying with him.  I had only been playing old time fiddle for a couple months when my dad asked me if I’d like to come and play with a traveling guitarist that had been staying with him.  Eager to play with someone else, even though I hardly knew what I was doing, I jumped at the chance.  He was in town performing with a band for a local playhouse and at a few bars.  I can’t recall the guy’s name but he played many styles, old time, vaudeville, country, jazz, blues, rock, whichever.  He was very friendly The Feight Hoppers WRECKING SHOP!!!and accompanied me even though I could barely carry a tune much less play in key.  It was my first session with another person and while I was nervous and jerky he settled my nerves and helped me out as best he could.  Anyway, after we had played for a while and were putting our stuff away he told me that I should checkout The Freight Hoppers, he said they were the “real deal” and played old time music as it should be played.  My curiosity peaked I looked them up as soon as I got home.

Freight Hoppers recordings aren’t hard to fine online and I promptly placed an order.  On first listen upon receiving the album I was not disappointed.  Their music is thick with the old time string band and gospel sound.  I’ve always considered this type of as “music for the people by the people” as there’s nothing pretentious about it to say the least.  Their sound is one you’d expect to hear coming from a square dance or a sidewalk not just from your speakers.  From what I understand The Freight Hoppers got their start busking at various events down south so there is some truth to the thought.  There are a few other old time acts that come to mind one in particular can be heard playing sets in the subways of New York City despite having reached a level of popularity where that type of venue is no longer necessary.

The sole founder of The Freight Hoppers and also the driving force behinds it’s fiddle is David Bass.  Other past and present members include, Cary Fridley, Frank Lee, Jim O’Keefe and Hanne Jorgensen.  From what I understand there are no female vocalists in the band currently.  I find that a little disappointing because the female vocals (particularly on the gospel tunes) on the first two albums are fantastic.  Regardless of who’s in the band though Bass is a great fiddler and so far has only played with accompanying musicians who share his vision of what a old time string band should sound like and in turn what The Freight Hoppers should sound like.  Good job Bass!

The Freight Hoppers currently only have two albums right now but from what I understand another is on the way soon…

1) Where’d You Come From Where’d You Go? [1996]
2) Waiting on the Gravy Train [1998]

1 comment to The Freight Hoppers

You must be logged in to post a comment.