Roots-rock group the Band of Heathens are among the country, folk, jam, and Americana artists paying homage to bluegrass Renaissance man John Hartford on the new album On the Road: A Tribute to John Hartford. The Austin band tackle “Up on the Hill Where They Do the Boogie,” a freewheeling track off Hartford’s 1971 album Aereo-Plain.
While Hartford’s recording is breakneck and loose, the Band of Heathens slow theirs down into something deliberate and even mournful. Heathens singer-guitarist Ed Jurdi calls the song “a campfire cult classic.”
“It’s a folk song that checks off all the boxes: activism, humor and a sing-along chorus. It’s the tune that you learned as a child and rediscover as an adult and realize at once how hip it is!” Jurdi says. “John Hartford was a great musician, songwriter and arbiter of culture. He is one of the unsung heroes of American music, and I hope this tribute helps awaken people to his influence and lasting impact.”
Hartford died in 2001 after fighting non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. On the Road: A Tribute to John Hartford arrives June 26th, with all net proceeds benefiting MusiCares. Other artists on the album include Todd Snider, Sam Bush, the Infamous Stringdusters, and John Carter Cash.