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Interview:
Ha Ha Tonka keeps its music on the move
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

» See more SOUND CHECK

Ha Ha Tonka knows that it's "a hard band to pinpoint," according to frontman Brian Roberts.

And while he acknowledges it "hasn't been the most successful commercial strategy" over the Missouri-based group's four albums, he and his bandmates wouldn't have it any other way.

"We've always had our feet in different worlds, which is very interesting to us," explains Roberts, 34. "We're kind of steeped in Ozark folklore and we dabble in Southern rock and bluegrass. We've always taken great pride that we're able to inhabit all those different worlds.

"So we're in a good spot. You look at Wilco and My Morning Jacket; they really have their own worlds they inhabit and you can't really put a definition on either of those two bands. I think that's highly enviable -- not to say we'll ever attain the levels of success they've had, but it's admirable the way they've carved out their own respective niches in the rock landscape, and that's what we're trying to do."

Ha Ha Tonka -- named after a state park in Camdenton, Mo. -- expanded its musical boundaries even further on 2013's "Lessons," and Roberts says the group is even learning more about the album as it integrates the songs into its live sets.

"We're finding out which songs resonate more in a live sense and which ones people request more than others," he says. "You hear moments that need to be heightened or intense parts of songs that you can make more intense by stretching out a little bit or building the solo in a way that's a little bit different than what you do on the record.

"It becomes a different experience, so if anything we've become more familiar with our material as we play it live, which is pretty neat."

Ha Ha Tonka

Wednesday, July 9

Magic Stick Lounge, 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit

Doors open at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 day of show

Call 313-833-9700 or visit www.majesticdetroit.com

Web Site: www.majesticdetroit.com

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