Pittsburgh Artist of the Week: Bindley Hardware Co.
Named after the hardware store run by Jon Bindley’s family during Pittsburgh’s industrial boom, the Bindley Hardware Co. make music with roots reaching down to the depths of music history. Their new song “Akimbo Boogie” sees them channeling the early rock-n-roll greats, inspired by a dance move seen from the stage. The band will play together for the first time in a long time on May 11 at Thunderbird Cafe and Music Hall.
Jon Bindley recently spoke with WYEP’s Joey Spehar about listening to Elvis, singing with Joe Negri, and figuring out how to sound like himself.
This conversation may be lightly edited for content, clarity, or length.
What’s your musical history up to this point?
My first time on stage was at The Balcony in Shadyside. I was 4, maybe 5 years old and I sang “Achy Breaky Heart” with Joe Negri. I’m a social artist by nature so my musical history is very much intertwined with my personal history. Growing up in the time and place I did in the East End of Pittsburgh with friends of all kinds from very different backgrounds and lifestyles I was fortunate to be exposed to and fall in love with lots of music. Sometimes I’m a punk, an MC, a country singer, its all in there. Duke Ellington said that thing about two kinds of music, the good kind and the other kind. I just love good music and have always let it be my guide to living.
How do you describe your sound?
Hard to describe my sound as I often feel like there are competing personas at play in my catalogue but one of the best compliments I tend to receive is when people point that out but say that it “still sounds like you” and I think what they mean is that they’re buying it, whoever it is in that particular tune. So I think with that in mind the best way to describe my sound might simply be genuine or sincere. I really go for it.
Tell us more about the song “Akimbo Boogie.” What inspired you to write it and what does it mean to you?
I love that early rock and roll boogie-woogie sound i.e. Fats Domino, Buddy Holly. I think I would have done well as a performer in that era where the energy was just so pure and raw and simple. My favorite thing to see when I am performing with Bindley Hardware Co. or my honky-tonk band is people enjoying themselves on the dance-floor and joyfully insisting on being part of the experience, that’s the top for me. About a year ago were playing at the honky-tonk and I saw this gal do just this quick little move with her hands on her hips and it stuck with me. With that in mind I thought I’d try my hand at writing something like the “The Twist” ,”The Stroll” , “The Hand Jive, etc” — then the song pretty much wrote itself.
What was the first album that really changed your life?
My mom had this Elvis Presley greatest hits cassette in her car that captivated me at a young age. There was something about it that went beyond the sounds I was hearing and excited my imagination and gave me a vision and understanding of how a great performer can command your attention and bring you into their world. I’ve never been impressed by technical musical ability as much as I am by the ability of a performer to get their audience to perform with them. Its less “look what I can do” and more “look what we’re doing together” I think that’s way more elusive and Elvis might have done it best in his time.
Who are some other Pittsburgh artists you think more people should listen to?
I think Pittsburgh is crushing it right now across all genres. In the world of Pittsburgh hip hop I really dig Livefromcity. I wanna do a track with him someday. I’ve been slowly working on a recording project with my friend who makes music under the name “Badboxes” – he’s doing incredible stuff with synths and sampling and beat production. Buffalo Rose are an amazing folk band from Pittsburgh and are also some of the best and hardest working people I’ve come to know. So much great music in da burgh!
The Hardware Co. is kinda fluid lineup wise but the collaborators/musicians on this track include:
Jesse Prentiss (bass)
Donnie Bell (guitar)
Alex Peck (drums)
Pete Freeman (pedal steel)
Lee Hintenlang (saxophone)
Erika Laing (trombone)
Learn more about Bindley Hardware Co.:
Check out previous Pittsburgh Artists of the Week here.