Introducing 40 Horse Mule

Not everyone who moves to Nashville to work in the music business comes thinking that they will hit the big time, but an awful lot do. Some arrive just hoping to find a gig as a sideman, and many never even make it that far.

And some who ply their trade in the music world are born and bred Nashvillians, doing company work in a company town.

Such is the story of 40 Horse Mule, a new group formed in the Nashville area made up of industry veterans. A couple moved to town and have found success, and one sprang up from bluegrass royalty.

The band is based around the singing and songwriting of Billy Troy, born Billy Graves, the son of Uncle Josh Graves of Flatt & Scruggs fame. He grew up watching his dad from backstage at the Grand Ole Opry, and now works as a producer and singer in Omaha, NE.

Bennie Boling on bass and Steve Huber on banjo form the rest of the group, with assistance from a number of Nashville grassers to complete their first record. Huber is well-known in the bluegrass world, both as a top-flight picker whose stellar banjo drove the early recordings from Kenny & Amanda Smith, and also as the builder of Huber Banjos, pre-war replica instruments of the highest quality. Boling, also a fine banjo player, has been working in bluegrass since he was a teen living in Pigeon Forge, TN. He’s found success as a songwriter in Nashville, with songs recorded by artists like Gene Watson, Jeannie Seely, and The Oak Ridge Boys. He also works with Steve at Huber Banjos and decided to put 40 Horse Mule together when he departed The Farm Hands Quartet after several years on the road.

Their first single, Hell, Fire, and Brimstone, is one Bennie wrote with Billy on the lead vocal. It has a bluesy, acoustic country sound that should find favor on bluegrass and Americana radio.

Boling shared the new single with us, along with a few words about working with Troy.

“I have always liked a heavy bass sound, along with a strong lead vocal, when I listen to music. That’s why Billy Troy makes this project so much fun for me. He has that powerful, experienced voice that only comes with time and talent. Billy and I have written several songs together throughout the years, and now are rediscovering how some of those songs work great for this project.”

Playing guitar on the track is Jason Roller, who also provided fiddle, with Marc MacGlashan on mandolin, and Keith Tew singing harmony.

Hell, Fire and Brimstone is available now to radio programmers at Airplay Direct. Expect to hear more from 40 Horse Mule when the debut album is released later this year.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.