On The Verge: The Travelin’ Hillbillies
In Good Company
When The Travelin’ Hillbillies released the single “All in Good Company,” the last thing that the Harrisonburg, Va.-based group expected was to be adorned with laurels from across the pond. But British record producer Stuart Epps, who has worked with Elton John, Led Zeppelin and Oasis, caught wind of the song and had some unexpected words to the band: “Superb playing—didn’t know there were bands that could do this still.” As Ryan Daniel Garst, the group’s guitarist and backing vocalist explains, “We started playing folk and country music, and it turned into Southern rock and migrated into what it is now.” Garst grew up singing with his brothers Shay and Brandon—honing in on lush three-part harmonies that recall the Eagles and Crosby, Stills & Nash—and, in 2012, they linked up with their fourth member, vocalist Daniel Barnett. Over 500 shows later, The Travelin’ Hillbillies have crafted a true Shenandoah Valley sound, featuring a blend of their note-bending guitars, Barnett’s syncopated howling and a timeless sweet spot for country and bluegrass. Their decidedly American melange—inspired by acts like the Allman Brothers Band, Little Feat and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers—has made waves in the jamband world as well. Ryan even had the pleasure of showcasing his guitar stylings with Widespread Panic drummer Duane Trucks, Trey Anastasio Band trumpet player Jennifer Hartswick and Major League Baseball pitcher Jake Peavy at Charlottesville, Va.’s the Ante Room. He attributes the band’s tight sound to their biological and communal brotherly connection. “It’s always a family jam,” he says.