By Hudson Hornick
The PovertyNeck Hillbillies have been called “a beer drinkin’, foot stompin’ good time.” Their music is a throwback to rockabilly stomp, but it’s hard to pigeon-hole them. The seven-member band, which hits the Maverick in Santa Ynez on Friday, August 11, plays everything from country-rock to Zydeco and polka. Fiddler Chris Higbee recently chatted over the phone.
You guys are the “official band” of the Pittsburgh Steelers. How’d that happen? Me and Abby [lead singer Chris Abbondanza] have always been big fans. We started talking to our manager about doing something with them for our upcoming video, “Mr. Right Now,” and our manager got things rolling. Someone mentioned wouldn’t it be cool if we got Ben Roethlisberger, and I said, “Why not?” We started talking to Ben and he was on board pretty quick.
How’d you come up with PovertyNeck Hillbillies? That was the name of my farm, the farm I grew up on. The farm got the name PovertyNeck from the Depression era, and when I was a kid, my dad used to dress us up as hillbillies for the parade. A couple years ago, I saw my dad fish the sign out from the backyard and I stopped him because he was going to throw the sign away, and I thought it would make a great name for the band.
You started on the outskirts of Pittsburgh and signed in Nashville — you must’ve hit some crazy venues along the way. Ever play through chicken wire? Ha! Yeah, we’ve played all over, in front of, and in everything. We’ve played fire halls to outside Wal-Mart. Chicken wire? Almost. Not quite that bad.