If band years are like dog years, the Spud Puppies are pushing 40, and ready for a break. This Saturday at Locals Only, they’ll play what founding member Greg Ziesemer calls the “Time and Space Hiatus Show.”
“After five and a half years, we just really need a break,” Ziesemer says. “No tellin’ when we’ll do it again, but I’m sure it will happen sometime. We all really still love each other. That’s a good way to go out, I think, on good terms, with a bang.”
The bluegrass band formed organically out of recording sessions in 2001 for Ziesemer’s solo album Baptism of Fire. “After the sessions were done, we started getting together for some loose pickin’ jam sessions,” Ziesemer remembers. “I started thinking about taking it out as a band. The Spud Puppies [a nickname for Ziesemer’s Alaskan Malamute] played their first official gig in 2002.”
The original lineup included bass player Jake Hopping, who Ziesemer calls “an amazing player, rock solid.” While Hopping is now playing with King Wilkie, a nationally-touring bluegrass-influenced sextet, the band is flying him back for the show.
The current lineup (not including Hopping) is Dave Bigley (guitar, banjo and vocals), Garry Bole (mandolin, dobro, piano and accordion), Kevin Donnaly (banjo), Boyd Thaxton (mandolin and vocals), Tim Williams (percussion and drums) and Ziesemer (guitar, bass and vocals).
The Puppies have released two albums, 2004’s Pick of the Litter and 2005’s Off the Leash, both of which were distributed and reviewed nationally. The band was awarded an Editors Choice Best of Indy award by NUVO in 2006.
All band members count playing the main stage at the Magnolia Festival in Bean Blossom, Ind., as one of their favorite gigs. “We had an absolute blast and were treated very well by the audience and other performers,” Wasson remembers.
“As good as it gets for a banjo player,” Donnaly says.