Those who play together, stay together

Redleg Husky at Canal Public House

By Katie Christoff

Photo: Redleg Husky will play Nov. 12 at Canal Public House; photo: Zoe Dehmer

It began at a potluck, attended by students hoping to create new friendships.

It sounds like the beginning of a teenage indie flick, but it’s actually the story of how Redleg Husky was formed. The Americana band, established in 2012, is the product of a friendship between Tim McWilliams and Misa Giroux, new graduate students at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina at the time.

“Neither of us knew anybody when we moved there,” McWilliams says. “There was a grad student potluck, and we were both in the same (very small) music program—we hung out there, and ended up hanging out all night and playing music together.”

And the rest is history—the graduate music students decided to apply their studies to a real-life band, and Redleg Husky was born.

“I was really into folk, singer-songwriter stuff, but I never really played out,” Giroux says. “When I met Tim, it was really cool because I got to play music with someone else.”

Both McWilliams and Giroux were out-of-state students—McWilliams from Cincinnati, Ohio and Giroux from Connecticut. They named their new band Redleg Husky to pay homage to their hometowns—“Redleg” for the previous name of the Cincinnati Reds, and “Husky” after the University of Connecticut’s mascot.

“Not that Misa’s into sports,” McWilliams laughs, “but we kind of put those together to rep where we’re each from. We liked how it sounded, and we had a show and needed a name. We didn’t hate it and it stuck.”

Three years later, Redleg Husky is a trio, also featuring Son Haus.

“I was on tour with a different band last summer,” Haus says. “We played together, and just stayed in touch ever since.”

“It’s been magical ever since,” McWilliams laughs.

“My band came down to visit them in Boone, and then after that trip to Boone I got back and there was a message waiting from them saying, ‘Hey, this is kind of crazy, but do you want to join the band?’” Haus remembers. “And I said, ‘Hell no, that’s crazy, there’s no way.’ Then I thought about it and decided to do it.”

Haus has been a member of Redleg Husky since June. To introduce him, the band members decided to interview each other and post the interviews on their website, redleghusky.com. These interviews allow fans a glimpse into their music, and also their friendship.

For instance, their newest member got the name Son after spending time on a hippie commune after college.

“Lots of people there change their names, and I was sort of drawn to the idea of choosing my own name,” Haus said in an interview with his bandmates. “I liked the idea of ‘Son’ with an ‘o’ because it ties into the blues tradition that I love so much, and because I felt like I was coming there with a lot to learn. I was coming there to grow and be a young person in a community of all ages, and by the time I was moving away two years later I was used to it and didn’t want to drop it. That’s still how I feel—no matter how old I get I think life is about learning.”

Band members disclosed fun facts like this, and other things, ranging from their favorite beers to favorite hockey teams (McWilliams got them involved in a fantasy hockey league).

“We all like to have things to do in our off time that aren’t related to music,” Haus says. He emphasizes that they wanted to share these hobbies with fans, because they love developing relationships with the people that enjoy their music.

“I think, at many shows we play, at least one or two people talk to us for a while,” Haus says. “Over months and years, you get to know people. With those interviews, fans can see us as more than people who play music, and relate to us in other ways.”

“I’ve met so many people from being on the road, and its great when they stay in touch,” McWilliams adds. “We’re all so grateful when someone takes a liking to our music, so staying in touch with those people is really great.”

When asked to describe their sound, all three members struggle.

McWilliams finally steps up to the plate: “They can correct me, but I guess it’s under the Americana umbrella,” he says. “Definitely acoustic roots, a lot of older songs that we’ve kind of made our own. But I guess one way we’ve been described is boot-stomping folk with soul.”

“I think we’ve been trying to evolve it a little bit,” Giroux helps. “Classic country, America country roots. Kind of still in the works.”

Finally, Haus answers more definitively: “Funky old-school country soul.”

The band just finished recording its second full-length album, My Old Heart, much of which was written on the road in North Carolina.

“We’re really excited—it’s a good representation of where we’re at right now,” McWilliams says.

Redleg Husky will play Thursday, Nov. 12 at 9 p.m. at Canal Public House, 308 E. First St. Admission is open to all ages. For more information or to read more interviews with the band, please visit redleghusky.com.

Reach DCP freelance writer Katie Christoff at KatieChristoff@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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