Boot-scootin’ some Folsom Prison Blues


Jackie Jahfetson

Traditional country band to take the stage at Ore Dock Brewing Co.

Today’s country music has crossed over the pivotal Grand Ole Opry to shadow other elements of pop, rock and rhythm. These musical stylings have broadened its audience from homegrown country folk to city hipsters. Luke Bryan’s funky hits of tailgates make for a great dance-off and we all can’t help but sing along. But even though it’s 2019, there are those classic, Bakersfield stories from Johnny Cash to Merle Haggard that still air on the radio and do the
boot-scootin’ at the old taverns down the road. And in Marquette—a place where music is structured for diversity from alternative-folk to blues— those backwoods, honky tonk hits still manage to hang on to the horn of the bull. With an acoustic guitar and a Southern fiddle, a local band aims to keep that
tradition alive.

Trailer Hitch of Marquette will string up the stage from 9 p.m. to midnight Friday at the Ore Dock Brewing Co. for a night of country music. Five local
musicians, who have been playing together for over 10 years, will cover hits from the classical country legends of Loretta Lynn to Hank Jr. to more alternative country sounds such as Old Crow Medicine Show and Ryan Adams.

Though they appear like true country folk, most of them started out as rock musicians, lead guitarist and Trailer Hitch’s business manager Tom Osier said.
In 2006, Osier had moved back to the U.P. after leaving downstate and decided to call up some of his older buddies from high school and said he wanted to start a country band because he felt he was getting too old to be a rockstar.

“We sort of started from scratch learning how to play country music,” Osier said. “I listened to it when I was a kid, my parents were into all the classical ‘70s and ‘60s stuff. So we got a playlist together and began learning the songs. It took us about six months before we were starting to play out.”

Four of the musicians were friends in elementary school and played in bands in high school and in college, and Osier said he wanted to get the old team back together. Along the way, the band picked up another singer, a drummer and then a fiddle player. With three men and two women on stage, there’s a variety in song selection but the one thing that they try to stay true to is the country, he said.

“The lyrics sort of speak to people as they get a little bit older. The songs are kind of stories about life, I think that’s something that’s interesting to me. I like the level of musicianship it takes to play country, it’s quite a bit more complicated than it seems to play country music
guitar properly,” Osier said. “You have to play across the changes of the chords versus like in blues or rock, you stick in one scale over a chord progression. Most of the country stuff sounds better if you’re playing along the chords, and it’s kind of different approach in how it’s done.”

Osier, who handles the events and organizing rehearsals, tries to get the band playing publicly once to twice a month, and they do anything from local bars to party events and wedding receptions. The band tries to play at the Ore Dock once or twice a year and Osier noted they usually attract a “good reception” and the music gets a group of dancers going.

“It’s probably the best room in town to play. It’s big, it’s friendly and it gets a good crowd who likes to listen to music. They just seem to have it really well put together and organized for the music and the bands especially. It’s very nice for the audience,” Osier said.

Though Marquette fosters a place for acoustic, alternative sounds, country music still transcends to people across the board, he added.

“Most of those songs are pretty universal and they’re really well written as far as the lyrics go. I think some of those beats are pretty simple, straight forward and catchy. That was when a lot of this stuff was being created so like any genre, that was the
golden era for it,” he said.