Wolf Hamlin & The Front Porch Drifters
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Wolf Hamlin & The Front Porch Drifters

Livermore, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014

Livermore, California, United States
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Country Americana


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"American Idol Courts Roots Fans w/ Jason “Wolf” Hamlin"

ou knew it was bound to happen sometime.

Sporting a squared off pompadour, work shirt, bushy beard, and a mess of tattoos, American Idol introduced Jason “Wolf” Hamlin as one of this year’s contestants on the episode that aired Sunday night. This mechanic-by-trade came in with his “guit-fiddle” (guitar) and sang a “CCR” song (which the well-versed would recognize as Leadbelly’s “Midnight Special”), and then when Steven Tyler asked him to sing another, he sang Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues”.

And then the emails started coming, and the chatter raised on various social networking channels Saving Country Music patrols seemed positive for “Wolf” with many saying, “Well hell, if he’s gonna be on there, I may actually watch this year!”

…and now you know why he was featured.

And “Wolf” was not only featured on an audition, he was significantly highlighted on the episode. They sent a production crew to his job as a golf course mechanic, got an in-depth interview with him, etc. I’m assuming all of this stuff happened after his audition. I mean, they wouldn’t go though all that trouble pre-audition unless they already determined he would be a contestant or would be featured, would they?

…and now you know a little more of what’s going on here.

Look, the blue-collar “roots” demographic, though seemingly small because it is traditionally ignored by the mainstream, is in many ways blowing up as a cultural force. American Idol did not “pick” Jason Hamlin, they “chose” him, and specifically chose to make him a significant focus of their episode.

And American Idol isn’t the only one all-of-a-sudden paying attention to the independent roots music world. The shift of the punk culture into roots music is a very real, culturally-significant phenomenon that the greater world is taking notice of. And they are courting the roots fan for the passion and loyalty that are recognized as top attributes of their behavior.

Century Media, a traditionally heavy metal label recently started a roots division for artists like Joe Buck and Bob Wayne. Victory Records, who some will give credit for “killing” punk music, has announced a roots project with so far an unknown specificity. And there’s a pretty solid rumor out there that Kevin Lyman of The Warped Tour and the Country Throwdown Tour is putting plans together for a “roots” version of the annual touring festival, possibly as early as this year. We’ll see.

As for Jason “Wolf” Hamlin, he could be a great thing, or he could be a horrible thing. We don’t know the guy, and we shouldn’t pretend we do, and we should understand he’s just a mechanic at a golf course who likes Johnny Cash. Or is he? And sure, he could be a shill for FOX producers hoping to bring the burgeoning masses of roots fans into the fold. Or, he could be the country music Messiah that I’ve been dreaming of (and Eric Church mocks me for). Or he could dive out in the first few weeks and all this consternation is for naught, unless in the process he actually exposes some kids to some real music they would otherwise not be.

But be wary friends and neighbors. If you reacted positively to seeing Jason “Wolf” Hamlin on American Idol and said “Well hell, I kind of like this guy. I may actually watch this stupid show this year!” just understand that is exactly what the folks in Hollywood wanted you to say. - Trigger

"Livermore's Wolf Hamlin in the TV spotlight again"

LIVERMORE -- Jason "Wolf" Hamlin grew up in Eudora, Kan., in the heart of Kansas City Chiefs territory, where red and gold permeated the landscape and not the red and gold of the San Francisco 49ers -- and certainly not the silver and black of the Oakland Raiders.

But for the past four years, Hamlin has been living in enemy football territory, pursuing his music dream. A year removed from vaulting into the national spotlight with his performance and appearance on "American Idol," Hamlin will again grace the small screen.

Hamlin and the band The Front Porch Drifters were tabbed by the producers of the "Chiefs Kingdom" to be the subject of their weekly TV documentary series that follows Chiefs fans nationwide.

"I loved the way he was on camera," said Jodain Massad, a senior producer for the Kansas City Chiefs, who normally doesn't watch "American Idol," but happened to be watching with his wife when Wolf appeared last year.

"Wolf just seemed like the type of guy that you wanted to listen to and know more," Massad said. "People responded to him. He reached out to a lot of minds and personalities."

"American Idol" and football fans will get to know more about Hamlin and why he caught Massad's attention.

Massad and fellow producers for the Chiefs struck gold with "Chiefs Kingdom" last season, that was broadcast in 14 markets. The half-hour show produced by the Chiefs' 65 Toss Power Trap Productions documents the lives of team fans, both famous and not, who live around the country.

The show got rave reviews from fans and critics, receiving six Emmys for its first three pilot episodes during the 2011 season, Massad said. This past season, its episode on the town and people of Joplin, Missouri was bestowed with a world honor, receiving a New York Festival Bronze medal -- joining sport heavyweights like ESPN's "30 for 30" documentary.

Hamlin's run on "American Idol" expanded his fan base from Livermore to Texas to Iceland and kick-started his drive to pursue his musical dream.

Growing up in a musical house -- his father was a guitar maker and his mother a singer/song writer -- Hamlin started playing the guitar at age 15 but didn't take it serious until he was 22.

After elimination from "Idol," Hamlin sought to hone his skills on the guitar and eventually found Jim Hurley, a local who has played with everyone from Ritchie Blackmore to Smokey Robinson.

"My parents always told us that if you are serious about something, you have to hone your skills and get better, and for me to get there I have to play with a musician that is in a higher class than myself," said Hamlin, 25.

Meeting Hurley led Hamlin to The Front Porch Drifters -- an eclectic group of eight musicians that include a winemaker, a school teacher, business execs and Hurley who all play together.

The group will also be highlighted during the filming of the documentary, which is scheduled to begin shooting Feb. 7 and will wrap Feb. 8 when Hamlin and the group perform at 8:30 p.m. at Sauced in Livermore.

"I am excited to get the exposure for Livermore," said Hamlin. "It's a great town and great place to live and hopefully people that watch can see that it's a cool little town to live. It is also great to get to acknowledge the hard work the band is putting in to make it."

Hamlin hopes Chiefs, Raiders, 49ers and even Livermore high school football fans will come to Sauced and show support for their favorite teams.

"Chiefs Kingdom" will follow Hamlin for a day at his job as a mechanic at Poppy Ridge Golf Course and the everyday lives of the rest of the band members.

The show is sure to hear about Hamlin's early childhood memories of watching two grown men, his dad and grandfather, shouting at the TV during Chiefs games.

And while Hamlin doesn't catch many Chiefs games now, he is still a fan.

"I am still considered a fan and it's like anything you grow up with, it brings back great memories," Hamlin said.

The episode is scheduled to air during the fall of 2013.

What: Taping of "Chiefs Kingdom" segment on Wolf Hamlin
When: 8:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8
Where: Sauced, 2300 1st St., Livermore - Robert Jordan

"Saving Country Music"

No this is not one of these American Idol alums who made it into the Top 20 of the show and tries to do everything they can to hold on to that glimmer of notoriety in an ill-fated attempt at a mainstream music career, this is Jason “Wolf” Hamlin who had the minds of many independent music fans reeling at the possibility of a genuine country roots artist making a real splash on America’s premier singing competition.

Of course Hamlin was a little too hard-edged to get very far on the show, but during the preliminary tryout phase of the 2012 season, American Idol selected him out of the crowd to be showcased in one of their extended segments on contestants. The 24-year-old engine mechanic carrying a “guit-fiddle” handmade by his recently-deceased father had a story, a look, and a voice that resonated with a crowd that was quite counter-intuitive to the American Idol audience. Wolf was singing Johnny Cash covers and showing a lot of attitude behind his music, despite maybe the Idol producers pushing the “Wolf” thing a little too hard.

“I hadn’t even planned on auditioning until I found out my wife was headed to San Diego a couple weeks before the auditions took place,” Wolf Hamlin explains. “I was told they were gonna be holding them there and figured, ‘Why not?’ It was never a make or break thing for me. People were able to see my father’s guitar and I was able to kickstart a career … People think either you’re a sell out or the next best thing when you go on American Idol. You realize that the level of vocalists and musicians is far beyond what is actually portrayed on the show. The competition out there is amazing.”

Hamlin got axed during Hollywood week and headed back home to Livermore, CA to start right back right where he left off, but with a renewed energy to pursue music further. “I came home with an all new outlook on music and what I wanted from it. I play with my band and other local musicians on a regular basis. I still work a full time job as a mechanic and last September married the woman of my dreams.”

In old-school back porch country music fashion, Jason Hamlin gathered together musicians from the surrounding area, his wife picked up the fiddle, and Wolf Hamlin became “Wolf Hamlin and the Front Porch Drifters.” Wolf says he loves his band. “I can’t thank them enough for what they do. It shows each and every time they get off work at 5pm, travel 2 to 3 hours to a gig, play ’till 2 AM, and drive 2 to 3 hours home.”

On July 30th, the band released their first, self-titled album independently. “The album is as real as possible. By that I mean it was recorded live In 48 tiring hours. We rehearsed for months, wrote a million songs, then hit the studio.” It’s a rough-hewn, raucous affair with its fair share of subdued songwriting moments, and some of the studio banter left on the tracks and a Southern rock flavor in stretches.

wolf-hamlin-front-porch-drifters“It was a Friday night in February,” Wolf recalls. “We started at 4 PM and had booked the studio for the weekend. We a sat in separate rooms with our instruments and head phones and just pounded it out take after take ’till we got it right. Our theory was we wanted an album that was authentically us. If you see us play, this is what we sound like. No bells and whistles, no Auto-Tune, just good old fashion music being recorded.”

“In the song ‘Wolf Hotel’ at the end you will hear our drummer hold the beat a second to long and screams ‘Fuck!’ We left it in because it was a real emotion. We had done numerous takes on that song and changed a few progressions throughout the takes. It was 2 AM and we were all spent. He captured what everyone was feeling. That’s the side of musicianship we want people to see … I label it Outlaw country cause that my favorite type of music. I am frequently told that it has a Southern rock sound and I love that also. I grew up listening to John Prine, John Hartford, the Stones, you name it. I am particularly fond of the songwriting portion.”

The ironic part of Wolf Hamlin’s American Idol experience is it seemed to reinforce in him the most important part of music and the foundation for country music specifically, which is sharing music with friends, loved ones, and each other on back porches and in local watering holes. Not every musician can be in the national spotlight. “Life has been great, we travel and enjoy the the little things like a front porch jam with complete strangers.”

But Wolf Hamlin would love to have the opportunity to share his music with more people. “[I'd love to] play with my band everywhere we can. Sell records. Tour! Hell I’m not sure but as long as we can keep creating and bringing those creations to people I’m good with it.”

And no matter what happens with Wolf, his father’s handmade guitar will be right beside him. “When I write a song it’s me and my father’s Acoustic. From there I bring it to the band and that’s when the Magic happens … I will always play my Fathers guit-fiddle. It’s part of me!” - Trigger


Still working on that hot first release.



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