Preview: Popular country band Povertyneck Hillbillies reforms as The Hillbilly Way


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Back in 2008, when he was launching a solo career, singer Chris "Abby" Abbondanza admitted that one thing he missed about not being in the Povertyneck Hillbillies was the camaraderie.

Now he doesn't have to miss it anymore.

The band has reunited as the Hillbilly Way and will make its debut Saturday at the "The Hillbilly State of Mind Tailgate Party" at Consol Energy Park in Washington, Pa. The popular band will pick up where it left off playing all the Povertyneck songs along with tracks from a new EP.

Hillbilly State of Mind Tailgate Party

Where: Consol Energy Park, Washington.

When: Parking lots open at 3 p.m. and gates open at 4 p.m. Saturday for the 4:30 p.m. show with The Steve Smith Band, Ruff Creek and Vanessa Campagna.

Tickets: $24.95-$34.95; www.hillbillyway.com, www.ticketmaster.com or 724-250-9555.

Povertyneck, which formed in Fayette County in 2000, started to make a name for itself around the time it entered the Graffiti Rock Challenge in 2003. In its heyday, it became the official band of the Steelers, shot a video with Ben Roethlisberger, starred in a WQED special, played to crowds here of 4,000-plus and toured with Toby Keith and Big & Rich.

The band signed to the Cleveland/Nashville-based Rust Records for its third album in 2006, which included a single called "The Hillbilly Way." When the expected national breakout didn't happen, the band split, to the surprise and disappointment of local fans.

Mr. Abbondanza went solo with a debut album called "Promised Land," cut in Nashville, but he says it was hard to keep a band together financially, leaving him to do solo acoustic shows to promote his work.

More than a year ago, he talked to the Hillbillies about getting back together. All of them jumped on board except for the fiddler, who leads his Chris Higbee Project.

"I spoke with Chris and offered to him to do the reunion with us, we wanted him to do it, and he respectfully declined. He has a solo thing going on, and we wish him luck. With him not involved, we couldn't use the Povertyneck Hillbilly name."

Mr. Abbondanza, guitarists David Guthrie and Bob Crafton, bassist Jeff Volek, keyboardist Dave Cramer and drummer Ryan Lucotch are now joined by fiddle player John Parrendo.

On the night of the show, the band will release a four-song EP that includes the single "My Kinda Sunday" on the local Rhythm House Records. It's part of a full CD that will be out in the spring.

As for the live show, "We're doing all the Povertyneck songs. We've been practicing a lot and it feels good. Just like riding a bike to get on stage again."

music

Scott Mervis: smervis@post-gazette.com; 412-263-2576. Twitter: @scottmervis_pg.


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