It all started in Athens, Georgia in 2001 during a most peculiar
spell when 5 or 6 bluegrass bands circulated the town. The famous Athens, which had once spawned the B-52s, REM, Widespread Panic, and countless other indie, pop and punk acts, was now the home to a competing minority of bluegrass players. The Packway Handle Band emerged from this small scene, finding national acclaim first as finalists at the Telluride bluegrass competition in 2002 and 2003, then taking 2nd place in 2004. The band’s 2003 debut album, “Chaff Harvest” was produced using prize awards from a local Battle of the
Bands when they beat out 72 other rock bands for first place.
PHB was on a roll and has continued to win over fans and rack
up awards. In early 2006 the band went on the road full time, wowing audiences across the country with close 4-part harmonies and their dance around two tightly-spaced condenser mics. Packway Handle Band has emerged at the national forefront of bands that use a gather-around-the-mic style. Theirs is not a mission to preserve historical styles– it’s just how they do what they do the best. And what they do best is rooted in thought provoking songwriting, clever choice and arrangement of bluegrass traditionals, and totally unexpected (even totally inappropriate) covers, all delivered with a crackling energy. If you get an idea of what Packway Handle is early in a show, you’ll probably change your mind several times before they’re done.
The band now plays upward of 200 shows a year in the
United States and in 2008 Packway embarked on an overseas tour to play the Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow, Scotland as well as a string of other dates throughout the UK, Belgium, Holland, and France. It’s obvious their enthusiasm and sense of humor are honest, and that what they do appeals to broad audiences, even those who don’t normally listen to bluegrass. You’re not going to say you’ve heard this band before, unless you actually have. Since 2003 the band has released four full length albums and one live EP, the most recent album entitled, “What Are We Gonna Do Now?”, was released in February 2010.