The HardChargers have always been ‘out-of-towners’, both a part of that scene and single-mindedly outside it so they simply got on with forging their own path. That path has led to an annual itinerary of 80–90 gigs a year the length and breadth of Ireland since 2012, with routine repeat bookings and four self-released singles and EPs prior to the nationally released debut album Scarecrow in October 2017. They have been repeat guests at numerous Irish festivals including Monaghan’s Harvest Time Blues Festival, Wicklow’s Knockanstockan Festival, and the Hilden Brewery Festival, Lisburn, opening for ‘popular’ artists such as the Waterboys and Alabama 3 at shows in some of Northern Ireland’s biggest venues along the way.
Eschewing the standard covers, the HardChargers are an electric power trio steeped in inspiration from the greats of the pre-electric blues – Blind Willie McTell, Blind Willie Johnson, Bukka White and Willie Brown, et al. to the progenitors of electric blues such as Lightnin Hopkins, Howlin’ Wolf and Frankie Lee Simms. Their live set is an electrifying reimagining of all of the above, combined with the lyricism of Chris Todd’s real-world blues and a musical language exquisitely refined from all of Blues/Roots and Rock history since.
Going forward, the HardChargers will be a more flexible entity, with Lonesome Chris Todd joined on any given occasion by a bassist and drummer drawn from a pool of six players – including the highly-regarded Ali MacKenzie (bass) and Davy Kennedy (drums), formerly of the Mighty Mojos, and Jan Uhrin (bass) and Peter Uhrin (drums), formerly of the Kaz Hawkins Band.
Lonesome Chris Todd: ‘The sound of the HardChargers going into 2018 and beyond will be very similar to the sound before. New players bring their own thing, but the songs, song structures and guitar and voice are the same as before. I’m looking at it as an exciting adventure, a fresh start – the same, but different. Scarecrow is a fantastic encapsulation of the original band, in my view, and 2018 will most certainly see the HardChargers building on that – with new songs, gigs in new venues and new territories, but the same energy as always!’
While festival stages provide the band with opportunities to play all-original sets, catching one of the band’s two-hour plus barroom gigs will typically feature two-thirds original material and one third covers. As if to underline their commitment to a huge breadth of Roots music styles, many of the covers are twangy uptempo instrumentals by the likes of Lonnie Mack, Dick Dale and Roy Buchanan, allowing the band to take audiences on a journey from Mississippi Juke Joints to Chicago Taverns to Texas Roadhouses and more within the space of a performance.
With Scarecrow’s national UK release, Lonesome Chris Todd is now focused on getting the word out about the HardChargers beyond Ireland and taking their hugely distinctive, exhilarating brand of the blues on the road in Britain and Europe.