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Not just new music, but a new sound
Members of the band, The Last Bison, at a recording session. Bandleader Ben Hardesty calls it, 'mountaintop chamber music.'
July 20th, 2012
11:10 AM ET

Not just new music, but a new sound

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.

soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Eeek Oboes

    It's certainly refreshing music. Would I call it "new"? Not really, but it's a well executed take on some nice sounds. In today's music scene, with practically infinite access to music that came before, there really is very little that's "new". Originality and creativity have to be looked at in a different way.

    July 28, 2012 at 7:53 am | Report abuse |
  2. AJ

    These guys are doing some truly remarkable things musically. Keep an eye on them, they're on the bubble.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Big A

    Great group. We have followed the band when we found out about them on 96X or 96.1 and Fell in love right away. They not only are talented but truly kind and nice people. We are very excited to see them "take off" over the last year or so. It's refreshing in this era of Auto Tune to see real talent. Way to go guys! Way to go 757!

    July 23, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. JJ

    What a refreshing sound, The Last Bison exudes! Ben Hardesty is a musical genius through and through, forging his own path to success in the music industry by marching to the beat of his own drum. Kudos to the executives who were savvy enough to recognize his talent. And congratulations on the recording of your 1st album. The Last Bison will, no doubt, go far!

    July 22, 2012 at 7:32 am | Report abuse |
  5. Fr. Dick

    The concept of "mountaintop chamber" is really appealing. The fulness of the sound is highlighted by the earthiness of a slight twang which is very refreshing. I really would want to hear more and hope to get one of their albums. Thanks, Jim, for uncovering a new gendre of musicality for our enjoyment.

    July 21, 2012 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Emily

    Bison is exactly what the music industry needs right now–their music is beautiful and they are wonderful people. Love them all!!

    July 21, 2012 at 4:12 am | Report abuse |
  7. Eva

    Best people. Incredible music. The world needs more positive music and inspirational figures like Bison. So, SO proud of them.

    July 20, 2012 at 11:39 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Ashley Henderson

    The last bison is Awesome!!!

    July 20, 2012 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Alex Freberg

    I went to one of their concerts when they were in North Carolina. My friend Bailey and I were there solely for the purpose of listening to Bison, now known as The Last Bison. We had the honor of talking with them getting our pictures with them. They are amazing people and their music speaks for itself.

    July 20, 2012 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
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