Westport Roots Festival 2018 Artist Spotlight: Those Poor Bastards
So much of popular contemporary country music revels in overproduction and stereotypes. It’s effectively manufactured for the mainstream, allowing fans to live in a fantasy world of day drinking ice-cold beer at the lake and riding pickup trucks through small-town dirt roads.
There are bands that bask in these institutions, and then there are bands that stomp them into perpetuity. Just from perusing their album titles alone – names like “Hellfire Hymns, “Necrosphere” and “Satan Is Watching” – Those Poor Bastards are bound and determined to shred those stereotypes and cast them into a fiery abyss.
This is a band that’s perfectly comfortable with making you feel uncomfortable. This is a band geared more toward fans of Nick Cave and Bauhaus than Brad Paisley. This is a band that frolics in dark alleys and the seedy belly of the underworld, reminding you with boot-stomping precision that the Dark Lord is watching and assessing your every move. There are hints of primitive country and old-time folk, with the viciousness of a punk assault and the madness of an Pentecostal preacher.
A Madison, Wisconsin-based duo consisting of Lonesome Wyatt and The Minister – with drummer Vincent Presley at live shows – Those Poor Bastards rain down with hellfire and brimstone on any audience in its path. For nearly two decades, the act has been exploring themes of mortality, greed and temptation in an intriguing, minimalistic gothic country style – and they’re better at it than almost anyone else on the scene. They even received a shining endorsement from country music royalty Hank Williams III, who covered their song “Pills I Took” in 2006, and declared them a cross between “eerie strung-out folk music with a creepy blend of The Nightmare Before Christmas.”
This is a band that’s carved out its own ungodly niche in the roots music world, severing itself from the chains of commercialized corporate country and basking in a satisfying, bloody decay. This is a band that you will most certainly regret missing, so get to the outdoor stage at Westport Roots Festival to catch Those Poor Bastards on Sunday, May 27, at 9:15 p.m.