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Q & A with Jeff “Horti” Hortillosa: Guitarist for “Whiskey Shivers”

If you’re a fan of bluegrass, “Old Crow Medicine Show” or “The Avett Brothers,” you should definitely check out Austin-based folk group “Whiskey Shivers.” Their unique style, which they call “trashgrass,” combines the instrumentalism of bluegrass with the tempo and attitude of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Jeff “Horti” Hortillosa, guitarist and one of the group’s vocalists, spoke about his experience in the band.

Photo courtesy of Jeff "Horti" Hortillosa

Photo courtesy of Jeff “Horti” Hortillosa

Tell me the story of “Whiskey Shivers.” How did you come together?

The band itself is based out of Autsin, Texas. I have been here for about three years. The other guys have been here for about five.

We all came together in 2009. Bobby and James went to college together. They met up with our bass player, Andrew, on Craigslist. Joe stepped in to play washboard on a gig on the fly. Their original guitarist actually ended up moving back to California, and they happened to meet me that same night.

I was out and there were these guys playing the same kind of music that I played, so I went up asked them if I could sit in. They said yes, and then I asked them if they were looking for a guitarist. It was pretty crazy!

How would you define your sound? How would define the term “trashgrass”?

We play bluegrass with a lot of very fast instrumentation. We all like and were influenced by Bill Monroe, Doc Watson. We were influenced by a number of newer bands, too, like “Old Crow Medicine Show.”

We call what we do “trashgrass” because, essentially, we like to play really fast, with a lot of hutzpa. In that way, it’s a lot more like Rock ‘n’ Roll than bluegrass in nature. What’s important about our band is that, yes, everyone in is a great individual player, but what we are as a whole is better. When we sing together, it’s bigger than all of us.

What’s next for “Whiskey Shivers?”

We are going to finish up this tour, and then we are going out to California to do some festivals. We like to pick up gigs between our official tour dates. Touring is intense sometimes, but it’s work, and it’s always good to be working.

We also have a new album, [self-titled “Whiskey Shivers”] produced by Robert Ellis, that will be coming out in the fall with brand-spankin’ new music on it.

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