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PRESENTED BY LEE ANN McADOO
Darren Hoff spent nearly a decade singing and playing guitar with The Weary Boys, a band who's roots trace back to Eureka California before the founding members moved to Austin in 2000. They crisscrossed the nation dozens of times and self released six records. The boys called it quits in the summer of 2007 and after finding his first day job in over six years Darren's first thought was "I better start writing some songs". Nearly two years later Darren Hoff and his new band dubbed "The Hard Times" entered Jumping Dog studio with 10 tunes penned by Darren and an old Charlie Poole song.
The selection and inclusion of Darren's new band-mates came through a mix of circumstance and intention. Ben Massey, lead guitar, relocated to Austin a decade ago from his native Maryland. He has played more than a thousand gigs with various acts around Austin, a good number of them opening for Darren's old band. Darren and Ben kicked around the idea of starting a side project together for years but both were too busy for it to get off of the ground. That changed early in 2008 when they got together to work on a few of Darren's songs, put together a set of covers, and started booking some off-night gigs as a three piece with various bass players.
Brandon Burke was next to join up with a simple "sure" when Darren asked him "hey we have a show tomorrow, do you want to play drums with us?" Burke a recent transplant from Yakima Washington with an odd musical background, a paring of Metal and Jazz might not have been an obvious choice but they immediately clicked.
Florida born engineer Jim Hawkins made his way to Austin via Hawaii, California and Belize. He became friends with Darren and Brandon when they worked together at a music shop. Early in the summer of 2009 he signed on to record and co-produce their self-titled first release. The recording process and working relationship was so fruitful with Jim adding keys to a few tracks that he started sitting in at live shows. It was quickly decided that his keyboards, harmony vocals and acoustic guitar were a perfect fit and before completion of the recording he became a full member.
After a handful of bass players used to gig they were fortunate enough to get legendary Gilley's bandleader and David Allen Coe alum Billy Dee to start the recording process laying down bass on 9 of the 11 tracks. Meanwhile former co-worker at the same music shop and lead guitar player in local indie rock band The Alice Rose Gregg White popped in to say hi and mentioned he had recently purchased a new bass. Well the Hard Times needed a bass player for a gig two nights later and Gregg fearlessly jumped aboard. One gig turned into another and Gregg ended up doing the final recording sessions for the record.
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