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Brown Chicken Brown Cow String Band on TOUR!

Coming to us from Maui, Hawaii, Brown Chicken Brown Cow String Band (BCBCSB) is touring through our beautiful West Virginia hills this June. They’ve already arrived and have performed a few veneus here in the state. Fortunately, there’s still 5 shows ahead so be sure to check them out: The Wild Bean in Lewisburg, WV, First Friday June 7th at 8pm; McBee’s Irish Pub in Beckley on June 8th, time n/a ; Tamarak in Beckley, Sunday June 9th at 2pm; Breeze Hill in Fayetteville on June 14th at 7pm; and a final West Virginia performance at Wild Bill’s Roadhouse on June 15th at 10pm.

While currently residing in Hawaii, BCBCSB has its roots here in West Virginia. Since their start, they have performed in almost every U.S. state, including Alaska. Once they leave our great state, audiences out west will enjoy their unique sound as they continue their tour. Every member of this group is a singer, musician, and songwriter: Xander Hitzig (fiddle, guitar, tenor banjo), Justin Morris (guitar, bass, banjo), Orion Hitzig (mandolin, fiddle) Matt Del Olmo (banjo, bass, guitar) and Katharine Wray (harmonica, guitar, bass, bodhran). Since their start on the Greenbrier River, BCBCSB has expanded their fan base nationally and have released 3 albums. They all agree that their unique sound has been solidified while residing in Maui. We want you to get to know BCBCSB firsthand, so the rest of this article is a q&a:

Q: What kind of music does BCBCSB play?

A: We play what feels good. We are all music enthusiasts, so naturally, it takes on multiple flavors. From traditional bluegrass to jazz to rock and it keeps changing from day to day. We like to call it “BrownChicken”- Orion Hitzig

A: The band primarily plays original music. Everyone in the band writes songs and all of us take the time to learn each others music. Whether someone is writing their own part or learning a part written by someone else, the part always has that musician’s signature sound and delivery. Our diversity in back-ground, experience, and personal taste has allowed us an opportunity to be unique. One time a couple years ago a newspaper in Texas wrote that BCBCSB has a sound that is hard the define as one genre and that they were going to call it BrownChicken Music… I always liked that comment and I would like to say we do have our own sound. We get asked this question a lot and I usually reply with; BrownChicken BrownCow String Band is an “Original Appalachian String Band”. – Justin Morris

A: Put any instrument in my hand & I’ll create something musical. As for Brownchicken, I try to bring songs to the band that would be appropriate for the current lineup of instrumentation.(fiddles,banjos,mandolin,harmonica,upright bass,dobro,guitar,& the Irish Bodran drum) – Matt Del Olmo
A: We like to call it, “BrownChicken”, but it really consists of folk, bluegrass, old-time country, Irish and gypsy jazz and all kinds of styles melded together; simply put: “BrownChicken”. – Xander Hitzig

Q: What is your favorite thing about playing in WV?

A: I really like playing in the hills down by the creeks, tucked back in the hollers, right next to the rivers and collaborating with old-time musicians. It also feels nice venturing back to the land where I was first exposed to old time fiddle tunes. West Virginia audiences are always refreshing to play too when it comes to StringBand’s. – Matt Del Olmo

A: I love hanging out with the band member’s families and friends. We always have great crowds when we perform in WV. – Katharine Fountain

A: Well, to start, all the family and friends and how at home I feel when we pull the rig into town. The mountains and the rivers and streams and all the old connections I have flooding back to life while I’m at home.- Xander Hitzig

A: Being from there, I feel right at home. It’s always nice to spend time with your roots and visit family in the most beautiful mountains in the world. – Orion Hitzig
A: My favorite thing is pickin tunes down on the banks of the Greenbrier. Now when I come back I smell the air, see the mountains and it awakens the spirit of my roots. My family is from West Virginia and I grew up performing all over the State. When I think about all the music and different projects that I have participated in growing up in WV it makes me realize how far music has taken me spiritually, physically, and physiologically. All of the people that support our band over the past 5 years really makes it feel like home. We receive weekly messages from our WV family on the road. Our families and friends are inspiring people. To see their shining faces and to feel their energy listening or dancing is an indescribably positive force in my life… and I’m proud to be from West Virginia. Returning to Appalachia is a joy. – Justin Morris

Q: What Bands/Musicians have influenced you?

A: Every band/ musician and genera are constantly influencing us. If you hear it, pay attention to it, and register it, you will be influenced. I like listening to older music specifically. I feel it in my soul more. David Grisman, Bill Monroe, The Beatles, Kevin Burke, Tool, Black sabbath, Led zeppelin are just a few of my biggest influences.- Orion Hitzig

A: Guy Clark, Robert Johnson, John Hartford, Allman Brothers, Flatt&Scuggs , Bill Monroe, Johnson Mountain Boys – Katharine Fountain

A: My influences are drawn from a still growing long list of well known & not so well known songs,bands,songwriters & composer’s, some of which predate the turn of the 19th century. Thanks to modern technologies capability to preserve & access music from the past & present at nearly any location via internet, my ears have been exposed to many genres and recordings. Most recently my two favorite albums to listen to are, and in no order, Jody Stecher’s album “going up on the mountain” & on vinyl The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s album “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” the latter album gifted to band from the producer William McEuen. – Matt Del Olmo

A:John Hartford, Guy Clark, Steve Earl, Vasser Clemmins, Kenny Baker, Jimmy Martin, Bill Monroe, Eddy Peabody, Black Mountain Bluegrass Boys, Flatt & Scruggs, and the list goes on forever… – Xander Hitzig

A: This is another question often asked and I have thought about this at length on the road, especially when asked by journalists and this is the answer I have grown to believe most true. I believe everyone and everything that a person comes in contact with influences them. Whether you like it or not. Even if you do not like something your exposed to, you most likely said to yourself… “I don’t like that” and subconsciously that decision influences you to not be like what you were exposed to. Or the opposite; I like that and I want to sound more like want I was exposed to. That’s is one of the reasons I love traveling is because I get exposed to so much that I would not being stationary. Amazing artist of every genre we have encountered on the road. Since I started traveling as a lifestyle my life has turned into an unpredictable, exciting, and educational trip. I know I have not specifically answered what bands or musicians have influences me, but I think it is important to say everyone has somehow influenced me, and I am grateful.- Justin Morris

Q: How long has the band Been together?

A: I have been playing music with BrownChicken BrownCow StringBand since there first public show in Lewisburg,WV in 2008, but as a full-time member touring it started in the summer of 2010 & reconfigured again with Katherine Fountain in December 2011. – Matt Del Olmo

A: I’ve been with the band for 2 years – Katharine Fountain

A: BCBCSB began for me on the banks of the Greenbrier River and my home studio in Lewisburg around 2008. Xander and I met and began jamming and recording that year. Not long after we met Orion began playing mandolin and we booked a show at the Wild Bean as BrownChicken BrownCow StringBand in the Summer 2008. I believe the wild bean may still have one of those posters in the wall. A lot sure has happened since then:) – Justin Morris

A: The band sprang to life in the spring of 2008, through a few different lineups throughout the last few years we have found this lineup to be the strongest it’s been. We have been a five piece for two years now.-Orion Hitzig

A: As a five-piece, this band has been together for about two years. Before that, it was a four-piece for about a year and a half. Before that, it was a three-piece for about two and a half years. It’s been a long and fun evolution of music every step of the way. – Xander Hitzig

Q: how did you meet each other?

A: My first summer living & working in West Virginia was “musically lonely”. While working on the farm off the grid in Monroe County, right around dusk, I expressed my burning desire to a friend about how badly I wanted to play with other musicians in the area. In turn I received banjo,bass, & guitar player Justin Morris’s phone number. I called,I showed up and after one evening of band practice, I found myself down by the Greenbrier River picking tunes late into the night all summer long. – Matt Del Olmo

A: Justin and Xander were playing in a band for a while with a different name and line up. Then as That started to disintegrate/morph into a new project, I picked up the mandolin and started hanging around rehearsals. At the time Matt was also around playing with us.
He later joined up with us full time after we had done a couple tours as a three pice. We met Kat on Maui while she was touring with her last band the Bucky Walters, a little time went by and she joined us full time. Creating the BrownChicken sound you hear today!- Orion Hitzig

A: I meet everyone at different times. I met Xander first. We were both performing in West Virginia and crossed paths a couple of times in Morgantown at a younger age before I moved to Lewisburg. One day out side of the wild bean I saw Xander playing guitar and I sat down beside him and he gave me his guitar for a moment as we had conversation. Shortly after that we began jamming in projects leading up to this bands formation. I meet Orion next, he would come over to my home studio on Highland Circle with Xander and just listen at first. Orion picked up a mandolin one day… I’m not sure I have seen him put it down yet. Next I met Matt Del Olmo, Matt was part of the original farmers market crew and was on stage for the first BCBCSB performance at the bean. It was a couple years later that Matt joined us on the road touring full time. Matt got my number from a friend and we invited him to rehearsal one afternoon, and then two years later we are all over the country together. Kathrine was the last piece to the puzzle. I met Kat Fountain in Maui while on tour. Her band Bucky Walters was also touring on island and we all met up and jammed. After that tour we all went back to the mainland and Kat and her band mate Bryan started traveling to meet us in different parts of the country and it was a really sweet sound. Kat and Bryan would open our shows as a duet and then join us later in the show. The Bucky Walters stopped touring and Kat met us for a North East tour in beginning in Nashville and moving toward New York. That tour Kat just simply became part of the band. We loved it and so did our fans. That was two years ago and we have been a five piece band ever since. – Justin Morris

A: I met the boys on the island of Maui in 2011 at BBQ through a mutual friend in my old band, The Bucky Walters. Playing music with them was so effortless that we kept meeting up across the country and I played with them in the streets of New Orleans, Texas, and in NYC. Next thing I knew, I was officially on the BrownChicken Train.-Katharine Fountain

A: Around campfires, on sidewalks, in living rooms, on porches, in basements and on the river bank. – Xander Hitzig

Q: What took you to Maui?

A: It was where the tour was going. The boys stronghold.- Katharine Fountian

A: Xander and I had a cousin there that kept telling us to bring our music there and that the Island needed it. So, we bought one way tickets. Eventually dragging Justin out and building from there. Now the whole band continues to return almost annually.- Orion Hitzig

A: I had a need at that time to have a big change in my life and a move from the mountains of southern West Virginia (which is one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world) to the island of Maui (one of the newest mountain ranges in the world) was a life-changing experience. Not to mention moving from creeks, rivers and lakes to multiple mountain run-offs and being surrounded by 360 degrees of Pacific Ocean. – Xander Hitzig

A: I had decided to leave Lewisburg to chase music and travel in 2009. I had thought to myself Australia sounded nice. I also considered New Zealand too, I just knew I wanted to leave and I wanted to go far. One evening after recording Xander mentioned that he had planned on going to Maui and he was going to play music. We talked for a while that evening and by the end of the conversation I was going to Maui. After that I shortly moved to Greenville, WV where I mixed down the recording from my home studio with Chance McCoy. Together we created the first BCBCSB album “Fruit Googles” that album and my conversation with Xander are what took me to Maui the first time. – Justin Morris

A: Justin Morris , Orion Hitzig , & Xander Hitzig took me there via the “BrownChickenTrain”. – Matt Del Olmo

Q: Does Maui influence your music?

A: It gives us a chance to relax and write new music. Traveling constantly on the road can make that a difficult task.- Katharine Fountain

A: Absolutely, like any other place you travel too, n stay, i figure the subconscious influence is happening even when you aren’t directing your attention to your immediate surroundings. Maui like many other powerful places has its own way’s of communicating with muse. – Matt Del Olmo

A: Absolutely. I believe everyone in the band had written songs on Maui. We write lyrics about our friends and experiences there. We also have met so many amazing musicians on island that have inspired us by performing and recording with us. One musician in particular has truly influenced me and that is Steve Sargenti. Steve is a world class musician and has written a multitude of songs. Meeting Steve alone on Maui has changed my life. Steve coined the phrase that has become our motto, “we have done so much, with so little, for so long, that we can now do anything with nothing.” Thanks Steve. – Justin Morris

A: Yes… it has influenced me, my music, and my song writing. I am also amazed to find so many similarities between traditional Hawaiian music and traditional Appalachian music. For example, I was playing fiddle with a traditional Hawaiian guitarists/singer named Norman DeCosta and he was playing a traditional Hawaiian waltz in the key of D major. I was able to play the exact melody to Bill Monroe’s bluegrass tune, “The Kentucky Waltz”. To me, that was just amazing. – Xander Hitzig

Q: What is your favorite venue?

A: I think there are too many incredible venues throughout the country for me to accurately answer this question. But, if I had to say one, I think my favorite place to play is just picking tunes around a campfire with some friends and a jar of shine. -Xander Hitzig

A: My favorite venue….that’s impossible to answer. Each place has its charm for different reasons. – Katarine Fountian

A: You can’t spend time anywhere without it influencing your music. I sometimes feel like being in a place that has its own strong musical history makes me want to focus on my own musical heritage.- Orion Hitzig

A: One of my favorite times of the day to play, is right around sunset outside, upon some beautiful vista over looking a mountain range or a long coastal view. Having a really good sound system to play through is always a plus. Overall, the outdoor venues seem to be a very symbiotic place for the sort of music we play. – Matt Del Olmo

A: That’s us a hard question to answer. So many venues offer an awesome experience, it just depends what I am feeling that day. Some times I want to perform at a nice outdoor amphitheater with a green field full of folks on blankets like we do at New Park Stage in Utah. Other times I’m in the mood to play all night in a hot sweaty club in Puerto Rico through antique gear and sip rum like we do at El Sombrero Viejo. The band has been blessed with wonderful people surrounding us to work with and when we find a great venue to partner with we create a relationship for the future. I will say I have always enjoyed playing anywhere our fans are, they are the best.- Justin Morris

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Publisher/Editor in Chief at HashtagWV | + posts

HASHTAGWV ART & ENTERTAINMENT Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, Christina Entenmann-Edwards has been a WV resident since September 2008. She was born and raised in Fairfield County, Connecticut, and is no stranger to hard work and the entrepreneurial spirit. In 2006, she graduated from Quinnipiac University (Hamden, Connecticut), Cum Laude, with a B.A. in History. In 2010, she graduated with an M.B.A. from Liberty University (Lynchburg, Virginia). In February 2012, Christina launched HashtagWV as the area’s first full-color, free arts and entertainment tabloid + online platform. Christina completed the Leadership West Virginia class of 2021, which is an innovative program that grows, engages, and mobilizes leaders to ignite a life passion to move West Virginia forward.