By Jim Roope, CNN
(Los Angeles) – Inside the recording studios of Sound City in Los Angeles, where Elton John, Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and many others made hit records, a new band with a new sound is hoping a new recording contract will help capture the ears and hearts of music lovers.
The band is called The Last Bison. The seven-member group out of Chesapeake, Virginia, plays a form of music that blends the music rooted in that region with classical music that bandleader Ben Hardesty calls “Mountaintop Chamber.”
[2:13] “We just kind of like sneak the classical sensibilities into the pop structure in a way that just kind of surprises the listener which we love doing,” Hardesty said.
Maybe more surprised than the listeners of their music is violinist Teresa Totheroh.
[2:41] “I was planning on maybe going to go a conservatory to study music so at first I was sort of unsure. But I’ve grown to love so much the way we can make classical music not just marketable to the public, but show people that they really do love classical music even though they don’t really know that."
The group includes Ben Hardesty with his sister Anna, who plays the orchestral bells, percussion, and sings harmony, and their dad, Dan who plays banjo and mandolin.
[3:25] “This was very unexpected. It’s not like I was ever thinking, ‘oh, one day I’ll play in a band with my kids,’ that was not on the agenda.”
Dan Hardesty said that when his son Ben returned home from bible school in England and announced the wanted to pursue a music career rather than go to college, he encouraged his son to do so.
[3:48] “I said this is the time of your life to do it. So I started helping him find places to play music and the next thing I knew I was playing behind him.”
An instrument that helps create the unique sound of The Last Bison is an old reed organ that Hardesty said his grandmother use to play at church.
[4:46] “I love the instrument. I love the deep tones that came out of and the spaces it can fill easily and it still being an acoustic instrument and a folky instrument.”
Listen to our story and the music of The Last Bison then join the conversation and tell us what you think.