Bluegrass Beyond Borders: a Dutch treat with The Tennessee Studs

When a band takes a name like The Tennessee Studs, it’s incumbent upon them to stir their sound with authenticity. Fortunately, this Dutch quintet manages to do just that. The band — which consists of a Canadian, three Dutchmen and a Swede — consists of Henrik Holm on double bass and bowed saw, Jeff Cardey on mandolin, Jeroen Schmohl on dobro, Joram Peeters with fiddles and whistles, and Roland van Beveren playing telecaster and pedal steel guitars. They’ve been making music together since 1999. 

“All Studs sing their songs straight from the heart,” van Beveren insists, noting that the members all claim varied musical influences, ranging from folk and bluegrass to pop, rock, and jazz. “We like to call our music Amsterdam Americana. Our sound is somewhere between The Old Crow Medicine Show and Daniel Lanois.” Or, as their website states, it’s all about “folky, funky and freaky Americana.”

Nevertheless, the band does take their influences seriously. They’re varied to be sure. When asked, van Beveren lists The Band, Old Crow Medicine Show, Andrew Bird, Sturgill Simpson, Lowell George, Daniel Lanois, the Felice Brothers, and Dirk Powell among those artist that have left an indelible imprint on their sound. 

So too, while their handle might seem to confine them to some specific environs, the fact is that the Tennessee Studs have played varied stages both at home and in the US.

“We’ve performed in jailhouses, churches, garages, honkytonks, concert halls, rock venues, dive bars, and hipster coffee joints,” van Beveren says. “We’ve toured many times with our friends Whiskey Puppy from Portland, Oregon, including the West Coast of the US, from San Francisco to Seattle. Just a few months before lockdown, we toured Alaska from Anchorage to Homer to McCarthy.”

He also notes that they’ve performed at several major festivals, including a number of appearances at the European World Of Bluegrass in the Netherlands. He adds that they’ve performed alongside Tim Knol, a well known Dutch singer-songwriter.

“Music lovers love our music,” van Beveren replies when asked how local audiences have responded to their performances. 

He doesn’t hesitate to add the reasons why he believes bluegrass goes over so well, even in the environs where it’s not particularly common. “It’s music straight from the heart, in a language and tonality we all understand,” he muses. 

In the truest sense, the Tennessee Studs make that their mantra. They’ve been known to play cover material that rings with universal appeal, among them, songs by Guy Clark, Bill Monroe, Fred Eaglesmith, and even the Rolling Stones. Their new album — and fifth to date — is aptly titled Turn Up the Heat, and is scheduled for release on January 9, 2022. It will be launched during a special celebration at  the world infamous Paradiso club in Amsterdam. It consists entirely of original material, all of it written by van Beveren, the band’s chief songwriter. 

Any music that goes by the description of “folky, funky and freaky” ought to be well worth checking out.

To learn more about the Tennessee Studs, visit them online.

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About the Author

Lee Zimmerman

Lee Zimmerman has been a writer and reviewer for the better part of the past 20 years. He writes for the following publications — No Depression, Goldmine, Country Standard TIme, Paste, Relix, Lincoln Center Spotlight, Fader, and Glide. A lifelong music obsessive and avid collector, he firmly believes that music provides the soundtrack for our lives and his reverence for the artists, performers and creative mind that go into creating their craft spurs his inspiration and motivation for every word hie writes.