Chattanooga Now Rollin' in the Hay: Southern rock in disguise

Chattanooga Now Rollin' in the Hay: Southern rock in disguise

June 4th, 2010 by Casey Phillips in Chattnow Music

In nature, there's an avian hoodwinker called the cowbird, which is notorious for its sly ways. The cowbird lays its eggs in the nests of other birds, who then unwittingly care for a large chick that looks nothing like their own.

In a way, Rollin' in the Hay is a kind of cowbird of the musical world.

Despite their distinctly Southern rock leanings, the Alabama-based musicians are often mislabeled as a newgrass band because of their instrumentation (mandolin, guitar and bass).

Sometimes, it's not until the trio takes the stage at a festival that the band's hosts realize something's up, said lead singer Rick Carter.

"A lot of it, oddly enough, is because we don't have a drummer," Carter said. "Once we start playing, it's as if there were a drummer because of the fundamentals and the 'oomph' we play with.

"The traditionalists see us as a mandolin a guitar and a bass, but when we start playing, they're like, 'Wow, that's a lot heavier.'"

In all fairness, Carter said that when Rollin' formed in 1993, it was originally a bluegrass-tinged spinoff of his Birmingham, Ala.-based rock band Telluride. After Rollin' started picking up steam, however, it pulled a cowbird and overtook its host band's time, Carter said.

Since its inception, Rollin' in the Hay's musically ambiguous nature has landed the band opening slots for a wide range of artists, from the Charlie Daniels Band and the Doobie Brothers to Moe and Widespread Panic.

(They were also inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame -- as a bluegrass band.)

For all the confusion over the nature of their music, however, Carter said most people end up being won over by the band's split between high-energy performances and songs delivered like storytelling narratives.

"My musical philosophy is that if you entertain yourself, as a songwriter or a guitarist or whatever your musical interest may be, it becomes very contagious," he said. "I've found that, if they entertain me, there's a high probability that they will entertain others."

Rollin' in the Hay will take the stage at Rhythm & Brews on Wednesday.


Q&A with Rick Carter, lead singer of Rollin' in the Hay

"I've been writing songs for 42 years. Sometimes, I sit down to write a song because I can; sometimes, I sit down and write a song because I needed to."

-- Rick Carter, lead singer of Rollin' in the Hay


* What: Rollin' in the Hay.

* When: 10 p.m. Wednesday.

* Where: Rhythm & Brews, 221 Market St.

* Admission: $7.

* Phone: 267-4644.

* Venue Web site:

* Related links at


1996: "Live at Oasis"

1998: "Renegade Bluegrass"

2000: "Live at Oasis 2"

2000: "Rollin' in the Hay"