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Redemption on the road from burlington

by Jordan Green

Redemption on the road from burlington

Holy hell & the hangovers prove it all night

Ryan Burgess is heavyset guy with a bald head that stands out like a beacon of goodwill in a sea of scruffy workaday types at Brewballs, a roadhouse on the western periphery of Burlington that provides televised sports viewing, pool and other amusements — Golden Tee and Silver Strike video games, for example — live music and, of course, beer. When he’s planted behind the drum set on the modest stage at the venue’s lower level, as he is on this last Wednesday of June, Burgess takes on the role of a piston driving a bulging, gas-guzzling 1970s muscle car. “I see some new faces and some old friendlies,” Burgess says. “Drink a lot. Don’t forget to tip Matt, ’cause I know he’s working his ass off.” Half of the crowd — dudes wearing T-shirts, blue jeans and long hair — look like extras from the set of Dazed and Confused, while the other part — polo shirts and ball caps — rolls casual-jock style. “They play every Wednesday,” a fan named Peter is saying. “It’s the same crowd. So they mix it up. Everybody expects to hear some good jams, and a solo or two.” Burgess plays some solos himself –muscular, locomotive assaults that complement his raspy soulful voice. And his two guitarwielding bandmates are soloists extraordinaire. Keith Ingles and Jesse Hensley are both well versed in the blues idiom, and each possesses a wide palette of licks ranging across Southern rock, R&B, funk and ska genres. Ingles plays mostly rhythm and Hensley plays almost all leads, although they reverse roles now and again. Ingles’ playing is tough and sinewy, Hensley’s filigreed and birdlike. They play with joy unencumbered by egotism. For a band that jams, there is very little extravagance or wasted phrasing at play. That’s especially evident when Ingles and Hensley trade licks. According to a fan named Zack Tucker, the guys onstage have been playing together for roughly 10 years, during which time they’ve been known as Deep River, Loop and, now, Holy Hell & the Hangovers. A current iteration of the band is the B-Town All-Stars. Holy Hell & the Hangovers has worked up about 10 songs, Ingles discloses before their first set, but they’ll only do three or four tonight because their regular bass player is on tour with the metal band the Demonstration. Doug Marshall from Anonymous is filling in. The musicians are easy going and good natured, and it rubs off on their audience, but they fiercely attack the groove. “No Wanna Fight,” a song written by Burgess and Ingles, riffs on Sublime, with its amplified bounce and pacifistic sentiments. “Too Complicated,” one of Ingles’ songs, takes off in easy-raunch mode and evolves into a thick slab of hot, buttered funk. The audience’s response is pure rapture, except for one dude, who shares an inside joke with the musicians. “I could take it or leave it,” he says, flipping his wrist in a gesture of equivocation. “It really means a lot that you disapprove,” Hensley quips. The band tears through another song called “Memphis” that travels the distance of Southern music, from hopped-up rockabilly to exercised soul and Southern-rock boogie. They also do a killer version of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall.” Burgess introduces the band, including Marshall. “He is not our normal bass player,” Burgess says. “But he is above normal, super normal.” One of the jocks hollers, “I love the guitar player,” adding quickly, “That wasn’t gay.”

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Jesse Hensley, Doug Marshall, Ryan Burgess and Keith Ingles heat things up at Brewballs. (photos by Jordan Green)

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