The Judy Chops
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The Judy Chops

Staunton, VA | Established. Jan 01, 2008 | SELF

Staunton, VA | SELF
Established on Jan, 2008
Band Rock Americana




"Camp Barefoot 5 Festival Review"

“The Judy Chops was the first group that got me truly excited...Reminiscent of Django Reinhardt styling one moment and bluegrass hip hop another, The Judy Chops have a refreshing sound and fun concept. They mash songs together or rather “chop” them up and piece them back together to create an exciting musical experience...As their set progressed, the crowd grew as the music called to them. It’s been a long time since something fun and fresh like this has been put in front of me musically.”
-Karen Dugan - Musical Musings of a Tiny Raver

"The Judy Chops"

“Music makes me high on stage, and that's the truth. It's like being almost addicted to music.”
~ Jimi Hendrix
The Judy Chops take their name from YouTube sensation Diemon Dave, the self-described Kung Fu Hillbilly: “And, uh, you got your Judy Chop, alright, you got your Karate Chop, and you got your Ninjy Chop.” Bluegrass and classic country influences provide the hillbilly aspect of the band while rock and swing provide the kung fu. If Americana was a martial arts school, The Judy Chops would be black belts in every fighting style. Their innovative fusion of genres would inspire envy in any master: they call it mountain swing.

When their chief ninjy, William Howard, isn’t bartending in Harrisonburg, he’s known as The Reverend Bill Howard and wields an electric guitar. Bill learned guitar from his grandmother (herself an avid fan of The Andrews Sisters), she first taught him “And When I Die” by Laura Nyro (and popularized by Blood, Sweat & Tears). Bill also contributes his voice to three-part harmonies led by Molly (acoustic guitar) and Sally Murphy (banjolele), sisters from Charlottesville and Bill’s former band mates in The Bourbon Specials. In late 2008, they joined forces with Jess Bergh (cocktail drums) from Harrisonburg, another one of Bill’s former band mates from Heart Gets Monkey. Over the years, they’ve added a number of talented friends and their chosen instruments to the lineup: Jims Hinkle (upright bass), Anna Matijasic-Hennessy (violin), David Boudaris (trumpet), and Richard Adams (saxophone and trombone).

I met Bill and some of the other Judy Chops at the Hampton Taphouse prior to their show with The Red Elvises. Having played just north of Charlottesville the night before at Glass House Winery, The Judy Chops were on the second stop of their Memorial Day weekend tour. After the Hampton Block Party, they were heading to another show in Shenandoah County. Bill told me they average about 150 shows a year from the mid-Atlantic to the Midwest. Last year, they played their first international gig in Costa Rica with Midnight Spaghetti & The Chocolate G-Strings.

Chopping their way out of the wilderness with an initial EP in 2010, The Judy Chops put out their first full length album the following year entitled Give Her The Gun. After raising nearly $4,000 via Indiegogo, the band is ready to release their second major effort, Minor Sunshine, later this month. The promo video for the new album features Sally singing a soulful song she wrote called “Shack on a Hill,” but then the tempo picks up as all three singers converge on a spirited version of “You Are My Sunshine” performed in a minor key. The album title is drawn from that philosophy of presenting popular songs in minor keys.

While their original tunes are top notch, the group has an eclectic batch of covers, medleys, and mash-ups to further engage their listeners. They do several songs by Cake and a handful of traditional gospel tunes. “Ganja Babe” by Michael Franti and “Cold, Cold Heart” by Hank Williams stand out as two of the more accomplished covers. One of their mash-ups uses lyrics from enough hip hop songs to rival a Girl Talk track, while another one has earned the moniker “Sex Monster” for blending songs like “Psycho Killer” by Talking Heads, “The Bad Touch” by Bloodhound Gang, and “Poker Face” by Lady Gaga.

Given the variety of their influences, I wondered which ones have made the biggest impression on the band. Bill said they all share a common love for John Prine, but confessed he’s most excited when fans compare them to The Squirrel Nut Zippers. Memories of my high school days, third-wave ska, and the nineties swing revival came rushing back to me. High on nostalgia and minding my own addictive personality, I pressed Bill with the final question that I’d been saving for the interview: Is music an addictive vice? “It rides the line,” he replied, “I can’t avoid it and I have to give up other things for it, but I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing.” He went on to mention the sacrifices that everyone in the band has to make. Scheduling around jobs or lost time with significant others can be taxing, but ultimately he’s convinced that “The Judy Chops belong on the road.”

Whurk: Virginia Cultural Review
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Modern Vintage Vol. 1-2009 (5 Song EP)- OUT OF PRINT
give her the gun-2010
Minor Sunshine-2014



For the past decade The Judy Chops have been wowing audiences with their deft musicianship and high-energy live shows. This seven piece band comprised of family and friends has evolved from a Shenandoah Valley favorite into one of the hottest acts in the Virginia music scene. Their unique take on Americana is a fusion of modern and vintage musical styles, blending elements of swing, blues, rock, and soul for a sonic experience Huffington Post calls 'genre-defying!'

Band Members