Hard Working Americans may sound redundant as a band name, but the newly formed super group offers refreshingly unique takes on classic hits. On October 28, the band releases a rockumentary The First Waltz through Melvin Records and Thirty Tigers. Justin Kreutzmann directs the film which chronicles the band’s formation, first show in Boulder, Colorado, and release of their self-titled album in 2014.
Todd Snider brought the band together in 2013. An admirer of the jam band scene’s virtuosic musicianship and fan of the poetic lyricism in Americana music, Snider needed to marry these two musical worlds. From this desire, Hard Working Americans was born. Snider recruited Widespread Panic’s bassist Dave Schools, Chris Robinson Brotherhood’s Neal Casal, Chad Staehly of Great American Taxi on the keys, Duane Trucks on the drums and pedal-steel guitarist Jesse Aycock to form the powerhouse group.
The rockumentary begins with a folksy version of “The Star Spangled Banner” and pans in to Snider lighting up a joint. “We smoke grass all day, don’t go to church every day… I have a dream—catcher hanging in my fucking rear-view,” Snider quips. “I’m also a flag-waving, country-loving American patriot and I feel like patriotism has been stolen from people like me. And it’s for that reason I called my most talented hippie buddies and convinced them… we’ve got to take that flag back for the silly.”
Snider formed the band for Americans like me and—most likely—you. They’re here for those of us that get our hands dirty for our money and fly our freak flags just below the stars and stripes. We’re proud to be Americans, and we’re equally proud of our freedom to express individuality.
According to Staehly, “It’s about great songs that fell through the cracks… [Snider] spent years gathering up these stray songs, a real humanitarian effort.” It’s also about the people who fell through the cracks—the blue-collared Americans who march to their own beat and love doing so.
The album Hard Working Americans features 11 covers from the likes of old-school country artist Frankie Miller, satirical pop pianist Randy Newman, and southern rock singer Kevin Kinney. Snider refers to the tracks as “a bag of what I’d call perfect songs, all of them written by my friends.”
The First Waltz will be available on October 28. View the official trailer below.