The Hillbilly Way
|The Hillbilly Way, Povertyneck Hillbillies|
|Origin||Dawson, Pennsylvania, USA|
|Years active||2000–2008, 2012|
|Labels||Cort, Rust, Rhythm House Studios|
|Members||Chris "Abby" Abbondanza
Bob "Crafty" Crafton
David "Junior" Guthrie
|Past members||Chris Higbee|
The Hillbilly Way are an American country music band founded in Dawson, Pennsylvania in 2000 by Chris "Abby" Abbondanza (lead vocals), Dave Cramer (keyboards), Ryan Lucotch (drums), Jeff Volek (bass guitar, accordion), David "Junior" Guthrie (electric guitar), and Bob "Crafty" Crafton (steel guitar). After several years of playing in local bars, the band gained a following throughout their native Pennsylvania, and were adopted by the Pittsburgh Steelers as that team's official band. Chris Higbee (fiddle) was also a founding member of the original band named "Povertyneck Hillbillies", however, he is no longer associated with "The Hillbilly Way".
Under the "Povertyneck Hillbillies" name, they released a total of three albums: the independently-released Hillbilly State of Mind and Don't Look Back in 2002 and 2004, followed by a self-titled effort in 2006 on Rust Records, the same year that Crafton left the band. Although these three albums produced no chart hits, they sold more than 10,000 copies nationwide. In 2008, Higbee issued a press release indicating that the band would be on hiatus indefinitely. Higbee then founded another band called the Chris Higbee Project, while Abbondanza began a solo career.
In 2012, the band reformed under the name of "The Hillbilly Way", and had a kickoff concert August 25th, 2012 at CONSOL Energy Park, home of the Washington Wild Things minor league baseball team, in Washington County, Pennsylvania. The band now consists of Chris "Abby" Abbondanza, Dave Cramer, Ryan Lucotch, Jeff Volek, David "Junior" Guthrie, and Bob "Crafty" Crafton, along with guest fiddle player John Parrendo, formerly of Chris Cagle's band.
The Povertyneck Hillbillies was founded in 2000 in the borough of Dawson, Pennsylvania by fiddler Chris Higbee and lead vocalist Chris "Abby" Abbondanza, who met and befriended each other after discovering common musical interests. Through the help of other friends, the two musicians found five more members who would complete the band's lineup: guitarist David Guthrie, keyboardist Dave Cramer, bass guitarist Jeff Volek, steel guitarist Bob Crafton and drummer Ryan Lucotch. The seven-piece band then assumed the name Povertyneck Hillbillies, a name derived from Poverty Neck Lane, a street near Higbee's grandfather's farm.
In the 2000s, the band began touring throughout Pennsylvania, playing at various bars and clubs to help develop a fanbase. Eventually, they were discovered by members of the Pittsburgh Steelers, a franchise of the National Football League, who chose the band to play "The Star-Spangled Banner" at a halftime show for the team. Eventually, the Povertyneck Hillbillies were chosen as the Steelers' official band.
By 2002, the band had released its debut album, Hillbilly State of Mind; a second album, Don't Look Back, followed two years later on Cort Records. Although neither album produced any chart singles, the albums sold more than 10,000 copies nationwide; as a result, they were named by the Country Music Association as one of the top-selling independent country acts of 2005. Crafton was forced out of the group by Higbee in 2006, shortly before they signed to Rust Records and released their self-titled third album. This album produced non-charting singles in "Mr. Right Now" and "One Night in New Orleans", the latter of which was previously recorded by Blackhawk. The Povertyneck Hillbillies left Rust in 2007.
On January 14, 2008, Higbee announced that the band had "decided to take a break of indefinite length." According to his press release, "Abby, Jeff, Junior and Dave have chosen to stop performing with the band. As with the impending end of any relationship, hurt feelings and frustration may prompt negative statements, rumors or speculation." Higbee has since founded another band entitled the Chris Higbee Project, while Abbondanza has begun a solo career.
Reunion and present
On Monday, April 9, 2012 it was announced by Chris "Abby" Abbondanza, on local country radio station "Froggy FM", that the Povertyneck Hillbillies would be hosting a reunion concert on August 25, 2012. The concert was held at CONSOL Energy Park, in Washington, Pennsylvania. The line up consists of all of the previous members, with the exception of Chris Higbee, who was replaced by guest fiddle player John Parrendo. Abbondanza stated that numerous requests to Higbee to join the show have been declined. The band is now known as "The Hillbilly Way". The band also released a 4 song EP on the night of the concert, containing the new single "My Kinda Sunday Drive", that is part of a fuller album to be released in the Spring of 2013. "My Kind of Sunday Drive" has received moderate airplay in the local Pittsburgh country music market, mostly on WOGI, known as "Froggy FM", on frequencies 94.9, 98.3, 103.5, and 104.3. The band is hoping their second single "Fear of Greyhounds" will help boost their popularity further in the local market, and possibly reclaim some fans that had forgotten about the band since their separation in 2008. Also, as of December 8th, 2012, at a local concert, Abby Abbondanza announced that fiddler John Parrendo was a permanent part of The Hillbilly Way.
|Title||Album details||Peak chart positions|
|US Country||US||US Indie||US Heat|
|Hillbilly State of Mind||
|Don't Look Back||
|The Hillbilly Way||
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart|
|2006||"The Hillbilly Way"||Povertyneck Hillbillies|
|"Mr. Right Now"|
|"One Night in New Orleans"|
|2012||"My Kinda Sunday Drive"||Hillbilly Way EP|
|"Fear of Greyhounds"|
|2006||"Mr. Right Now"||Lark Watts|
- Deming, Mark. "Povertyneck Hillbillies biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-04-15.
- "Popular country band Povertyneck Hillbillies reforms as The Hillbilly Way". 23 August 2012. Retrieved 27 August 2012.
- "Povertyneck Hillbillies biography". Great American Country. Retrieved 2008-04-15.
- "PovertyNeck Hillbillies leave Rust behind". Country Standard Time. 30 January 2007. Retrieved 27 December 2010.
- "Hillbillies reunion show announced". Times Online. 9 April 2012. Retrieved 11 April 2012.