The Last Bison

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The Last Bison
The Last Bison at the NorVa Theater
Background information
Origin Chesapeake, Virginia
Genres Indie folk, Indie rock, folk rock, roots rock
Years active 2010–present
Labels Universal

The Last Bison, formerly known as Bison, is an indie folk band that formed in Chesapeake, Virginia. The Last Bison originally dubbed their sound "mountain-top chamber music" combining elements of alternative indie-folk with classical sensibilities. Their first album Quill was released independently in September 2011 and received critical praise noting the bands complex arrangements, refined lyrics and vocal harmonies.[1]


The band initially received airplay on WROX-FM in Norfolk, Virginia.[2][3] James Steele, the station's program director, stated that "Switzerland", the first single from their debut album, prompted the biggest audience response of any tune in his five years at the station.[4] The band was signed to Universal Republic records in 2012, and released 3 projects with the label: Inheritance EP, Inheritance album, and Sleigh Ride EP. The option to continue for another album cycle with Republic was not renewed, and in February 2014 the band became independent. In April 2014 The Last Bison began recording their third full-length album, VA, which was released independently in September 2014. They released an EP, Dorado, in 2015.

Ben Hardesty's (vocals and guitar) songwriting bears sonic resemblance to groups such as Fleet Foxes, Mumford and Sons and The Decemberists.[5] Folkhive stated "Dare I say that [The Last] Bison is to folk what Arcade Fire is to indie rock? Boasting 7 members and a sound seemingly born on the tree covered mountain tops of Virginia [The Last] Bison lays down expansive and yet imminently listenable folk with an original feel I’ve not experienced in quite some time".[6] The band incorporates traditional folk instruments with a reed organ, percussion and classical strings. Independent Clauses stated "[The Last] Bison’s debut album Quill uses the seriousness of Fleet Foxes’ grounded sound as a framework, layering strings, bells and more on top. “Iscariot” and “The Woodcutter’s Son” have a darkly pastoral bent that recalls pre-The King Is Dead Decemberists.[7]"[The Last] Bison has headlined the Norva Theatre in Norfolk[8] as well as performed with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra.[9] The Daily Press said of Bison's live performance, "The stars of [the] show did not disappoint. Bison skillfully performed complex arrangements and delivered songs with passion and sensitivity [...] [The Last] Bison is a unique musical outfit that creates an unusual energy on stage."[10]


Ben Hardesty - Lead Guitar, Vocals

Andrew Benfante - Reed Organ, Keyboards

Amos Housworth - Cello[11]

Jonathan Smalt - Percussion

Previous Members[edit]

Jay Benfante - Percussion

Teresa Totheroh - Violin

David Solomon - Percussion

Dan Hardesty - Banjo, Mandolin, Guitar, Backup Vocals

Annah Housworth - Bells, Percussion, Backup Vocals


Quill Independent (2011)- Recorded in two days live at Minimum Wage Recording in Richmond VA and released September, 2011

Inheritance Universal Republic (2013)- Recorded in July 2012 at Fairfax Recording in Van Nuys, CA. The "Inheritance EP" was released in October 2012. The full length came out in March 2013 and was a mix of re-recorded songs from Quill as well as brand new songs.[12]

Sleigh Ride Universal Republic (2013)- Recorded at Minimum Wage Recording in Richmond VA and released November 2013.

VA Independent (2014)- Recorded in the Wigwam A-Frame on site at Triple R Ranch and at Parroco Production in Chesapeake, VA. The full-length album was released September 2014.

Dorado Independent (2015)- Songs for Dorado were taken from the writing and recording sessions for the VA album.[13]

Name change[edit]

According to an e-mail sent out by the band on July 20, 2012 they officially changed their name from Bison to The Last Bison to avoid confusion with an identically named band.


  1. ^ McDonald, Sam. "Bison: Called a hit with Hampton Roads Listeners". The Daily Press. Retrieved 2012-02-02. 
  2. ^ McDonald, Sam. "Bison and other local bands play to big crowd at 96X event in Hampton". The Daily Press. Retrieved 2012-02-02. 
  3. ^ Maisey, Jeff. "Bison's Mountain Top Chamber Music, Eclectic Chesapeake band rides Switzerland to success". Veer Magazine. Retrieved 2012-02-02. 
  4. ^ McDonald, Sam. "Bison, a folk band from Chesapeake is attracting a herd of fans". The Daily Press. Retrieved 2012-02-02. 
  5. ^ Carradini, Stephen. "Bison's folk-pop focuses on unique arrangements". Independent Clauses. Retrieved 2012-02-02. 
  6. ^ "bison: quill: switzerland". Retrieved 2012-02-02.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  7. ^ Carradini, Stephen. "Bison's folk-pop focuses on unique arrangements". Independent Clauses. Retrieved 01/05/2014.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  8. ^ Feber, Eric. "Chesapeake band headlines NorVa Thanksgiving food drive". The Virginian-Pilot. Retrieved 02/03/2012.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  9. ^ McDonald, Sam. "Bison to play Hampton Fundraiser". The Daily Press. Retrieved 02/03/2012.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  10. ^ McDonald, Sam. "Bison and other local bands play to big crowd at 96X event in Hampton". The Daily Press. Retrieved 2012-02-02. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Bison on Episode 74 of The Collision Podcast". The Collision Podcast. Retrieved 2012-06-27.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  13. ^ "The Last Bison - 'Dorado' (EP stream) (Premiere)". Pop Matters. Retrieved 13 October 2016. 

External links[edit]