Tag Archive: norfolk




Ben Hardesty may look like the hammer-wielding god turned superhero, but he does have his own unique musical powers, that are eloquently complimented by his friends and family, who are collectively known as THE LAST BISON. Six of the band’s seven members have known each other since they were kids, including Hardesty and his younger sister, Annah, who plays bells and sings backup vocals. Hardesty met percussionist Jay Benfante and his older brother, Andrew, who plays the antique organ, grew up going to church with the Hardesty family, and instantly had great chemistry with them. Add classically trained strings players Teresa Totheroh on violin and Amos Housworth on cello, and the band’s richly layered sound was a match to be met. Inspired by the folk and bluegrass music of southeastern Virginia as well as an appreciation for classical music Hardesty cultivated while studying in England, THE LAST BISON have developed their own brand of “mountain-top chamber”. I had the opportunity to talk to Hardesty about the band’s recent trip to Alaska, the importance of community in their music, and their major label debut with their Inheritance EP.

You guys recently returned from Alaska. What was that experience like?

Gosh…Alaska! It’s a place you don’t want to leave. We were in Anchorage, which is 30 minutes out from the wilderness of Alaska, but we ventured out there a few times. We were staying there with a good friend of mine, and while we were there we enjoyed some of the freshest seafood—crab and salmon. We only got to play one show there, but we want to head back as soon as possible. We would love to tour all over Alaska. It’s very beautiful there and good all around.

I saw on your Instagram that while in Alaska you wore some deer antlers. Whose idea was that?

While we were there, Theron Humphrey of THIS WILD IDEA was touring through the area at the same time, and I was a big fan of him. He has over 350,000 followers on Instagram and Twitter, but we ended up connecting and met up on our last day there to hike up this mountain. My buddy that we were staying with had these random antlers, and everyone just happened to have cameras with them (laughs). So we decided to take them up to the top with us, and we just had fun with it.


According to the band’s biography on your website, your father gave you a guitar when you were two-years-old, and later told you, “It doesn’t matter if you play it right, just make it sound good!” Is that something that you still believe to be true?

I was 12-years-old when I started taking guitar seriously, but when I was two or three, my dad gave me this cream white guitar. When I turned nine, he gave me my first real guitar. It was around that time that he said that to me, and I still use that guitar to write most of our songs, even though its smaller, it still holds a lot of value to me. I’m not classically trained by any means, but my dad and my sister are. I always write by ear and just play whatever sounds good to me. I tend to use a lot of strange chord voicings, and it’s just something that I have always held onto.

That’s cool. You have the creative mindset for your songs, and your dad and sister can apply the technical skills to make the song even better.

Yeah definitely. We have been starting to get a better handle on writing songs together better in our creative process. We can understand each other better, and we have been able to write a lot of new songs much faster. Our next local show coming up is at the Norva on November 30th, and we will be playing a bunch of new songs that we have been working on at that show.

How important is family in your relationships with the rest of the band and in your music?

Our cellist actually just got engaged to my sister. I think the closer knit we are, the better. Community is huge for us, especially with our music, and it was hugely important to us when I was growing up. At the end of our shows, we even invite everyone on stage to join us in our performance.

Though your music, style of dress, and overall lifestyles may seem very traditional, how do you manage to be relevant to mainstream society?

I know we give off the folk farmer vibe, but that is more of the classic late-1800s aesthetic we are going for. We try to make it seem like we have stepped out of an 18th century stagecoach, but that goes along with the genre and the image we project. I think the important part is just owning it and sticking to your guns. We just create music that we love, and we hope that it remains relevant.


You just released your major label debut Inheritance EP through Republic Records. Why did you decide to switch to a major label?

Well we weren’t signed to a label before, and we made the trip to New York more for the experience. The people at Republic though were so congenial, and nice and personable. We really liked that maintaining the artistic side of our music was important to them. A lot of our band members have aspirations outside of music, but this felt like the best option for us. We thought about it over five months, and all the indie labels are running themselves like major labels but try to maintain that “indie” street cred. It has been fun and kinda not fun to see the veil of the music industry change before our eyes. We signed a five record contract with Republic, so one down and four to go (laughs).

What songs off that record have the most personal meaning to you, and why?

There are a few, but the one that has the most personal meaning is “Take All The Time”, which is a sacrificial love song. I wrote it about my girlfriend of three years, and it’s a song about lasting commitment. It’s about me telling her, ‘I’m not going anywhere.’

What other local artists from Virginia have influenced your band’s sound?

Though I am not really a pop punk fan, AUDIOSTROBELIGHT were a big influence in our early days as a band. Gabe is a really good friend of mine, and he helped us with a lot of technical advice that has helped us improve our live performances. I also really admire LOGAN VATH. He is doing great things in the local music community, and he will also be playing with us at our Norva show on November 30th. ESBERN SNARE is another really great band. They make beautiful music, and on one of our tours, their vocalist Luke filled in on organ for us. Also, I can’t forget the classics like ELLA FITZGERALD and CLARENCE CLEMMONS.

For more updates on THE LAST BISON and to hear Inheritance EP, visit their website, “like” their Facebook page, and follow them on Twitter.

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Despite being born and raised in Nebraska, singer/songwriter Logan Vath didn’t find his voice until he found comfort in the city of Norfolk. With influences ranging from his struggle to find a musical identity to feelings of displacement, Vath and his band THE VACANT have been quickly making a name for themselves. With friends, such as THE LAST BISON and OVER THE OCEAN, Vath has been steadily making more strides and warming more spirits with his heartfelt lyrics and tender guitar strokes. Vath gave me the opportunity to speak with him about his humble beginnings and how he is coming to terms with his music and his new home in Virginia.

I know that you are originally from Nebraska, but what brought you to Virginia?

I joined the Navy to get out of Nebraska, and I ended up getting stationed in Norfolk. When I got out, I stuck around here.

Do you consider Virginia your home or do you still have more roots in Nebraska?

I have always been a firm believer in the fact that home is where your things are, so for now Norfolk is my home. I still have family and relatives in Nebraska, but I like living in Norfolk. It’s comfortable, and I have gotten used to it.

I read on your bio that the way you met some of the members of your band started with an ad you came across on Craigslist. What is the story behind that?

I met Josh from OVER THE OCEAN because he was trying to sell some recording gear that I was interested in buying so that I could record some rough songs I had at the time. After meeting me and hearing some of my music, he introduced me to some people from the singer/songwriter community in Norfolk, and three of those guys are in my band now.

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How would you describe your musical identity?

I think that it’s still changing. This last record I did, I released the record alone, but I am really looking forward to playing a recording with my band and starting the next chapter. We are playing with THE LAST BISON at the Norva on November 30th and the next record we release will be as a full band. So to answer your question, I think I am still figuring it out.

What is the meaning behind your album title Better Man or Ghost?

I really wasn’t committed to staying in Virginia until six months ago. I didn’t really feel at home here until I was introduced to the singer/songwriter community that I now call my friends. When I left Nebraska to join the Navy, I did it in hopes of becoming a better man, but at the same time I became a ghost to those who can’t see me as often anymore. I still keep in contact with my family and friends back in Nebraska through social media, but the songs on this record are very old and I think they represent that transitional period in my life.

What song off that record has the most personal meaning to you, and why?

The closing song, “This Far From Home”, which is also the newest song on that record. I wrote and recorded it live in the studio, and it was really representative of what I was thinking at the time. It’s basically about dreaming big and not being afraid to chase your dreams. It was about me finding out what I wanted and going after it.

Are there any bands or solo artists from Virginia that inspire you that other people need to hear?

Definitely! Our guitarist Andrew Montgomery plays in a band called ESBERN SNARE. They are a great band and such good friends. Their vocalist Luke Jones is such a talented lyricist, and I am really looking forward to their new record to be released in the next few months. Also, OVER THE OCEAN is a really great band. There are so many. Norfolk has the best songwriters I know, whether they are famous or not.

For more updates on Logan Vath, follow him on Twitter, “like” his Facebook page, and listen to Better Man or Ghost on his Bandcamp.




Hailing from Norfolk, SK THE RAPPER is more than just an artist. Adding blogging to hi resume, SK is continuously striving to build an empire and make a name for himself in the hip-hop industry. He has been described as a cross between megastars KANYE WEST and JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE due to his musical hooks and unconventional image. He recently released a lyric video for the first single “I Need You Back” from his upcoming album Autograph Later 2.0 which is reminiscent of current rap-pop heavyweights JASON DERULO and FLO RIDA. I was fortunate to speak with SK THE RAPPER where we talked about his beginnings to his current state as a musician and branching to other industries.

What or who inspired you to become a rapper?

Seeing other artists on TV. I didn’t really go into pop until now, but that’s what really did it for me. Rap and hip hop [artists] like DMX and other people on TV [really inspired me]. I thought it was so cool.

Who are your major influences?

The biggest influence of mine is NELLY. There’s a lot of Nelly influence in my music as well as FLO RIDA and the BLACK EYED PEAS. Artists like that really inspired me, but NELLY the most.

What made you choose the name “Shaun the Kid” and shorten it to “SK”?

Well when I first started, my rap name was TKO, it was so funny. I didn’t really know back then. I was really starting to get into pop [music], and I didn’t want to really do something too hardcore. I wanted it to be more neutral, like it can go either way.

Name badges, as in the stickers that say “Hello, My name is”, are a common template in your videos and blog. What inspired you to make it your signature?

The “Hello, my name is” is sort of a conversation starter. My whole brand is more like the kid next door, not the superficial type but more like someone you would know. It’s just something that I do.


What is your opinion on the current state of the rap/hip-hop scene, and what do you hope to contribute to it?

As for as hip hop, I don’t think it could be better, but as far as rap is considered, it used to be better back [in the day]. I like popular music. There are certain people that shine, but there are not a lot of people who push the boundaries.

What was it like attending the 2013 BET awards as well as the 2013 Young Hollywood Awards?

I loved it. I’d like to go back. I’m so infatuated with the Hollywood awards and California awards. I liked the Young Hollywood awards a bit more. I really just like the whole culture. I liked the whole atmosphere of the Young Hollywood. I loved both awards, the Young Hollywood was great. I want to get nominated for one of those awards.

How was meeting Kevin McHale?

Honestly, I don’t watch Glee, I’m a fan of Kevin because he used to be a part a group I was a fan of. It was great to meet him though, and I love his music.

I think it’s interesting that you create music and have a blog about music and celebrities. How did you get started blogging?

Basically, I [try to market myself more as a] brand over just me as an artist. I’m one of those types of artists who will go from music, to acting, to a clothing line. I’m into building a whole brand. I have a few people who blog for me, and I train them on what to post. I have a lot of younger fans. A bunch of 13-year-olds and stuff like that I didn’t want to be an artist who posts music. I wanted to do something iconic to keep kids engaged. I wanted to have something where it’s a continuous blog, so it’s not all about me.

Are there any other artists from Virginia you think people should check out?

There are not a lot of artists that I get into from Virginia. I feel like if someone who has a hit song I really want to get into them. The singer on my song “She’s Dope”, she’s in a lot of my songs, and she’s a great singer, but she doesn’t really have her own music. But CHRIS BROWN is from Virginia!

TREY SONGZ is also from Virginia.

I’m a huge fan of people like that who have a high caliber.

For more updates on SK THE RAPPER, stay tuned to his website, and be sure to follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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