Nobody ever said the band was designed for every country music fan. It’s hard to image years from now that Hank XIII will growl out a song about the good ol’ days of .

Pinmonkey? First of all, you did know it was a country band, right?

Truth is, the band sounds a lot like the good ol’ days. There’s a bit more Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and The Carter Family in it than, say, cowboy stud-muffins on a soda commercial. Maybe that’s why everybody, even in this post-O Brother era, seems a little surprised Pinmonkey has obtained such a solid rep before its major label debut.

Here’s a hint to the band’s sound: When the BNA record drops October 8th, it will feature Dolly Parton, Ricky Skaggs, and Rusty Young from Poco. Ignore for the moment a connection to Sugar Ray and Cyndi Lauper (let’s just say the band has some fun songs on the new record).

For now, focus on how the band has received a standing O from the Grand Ole Opry crowd and is being routed through the folk festivals, and not how they’re winning over arena crowds. The band’s drummer, Rick Schell, told POLLSTAR he saw it firsthand at Merlefest, where Pinmonkey was the featured performer.

“We had people from the age of eight all the way up to the mid-60s loving our music,” he said. “I’m sure the kids liked it because they have no reference, and the older people … I think they’re hearing our influences, you know? And it’s almost like comfort food to them.”

The band members are basically studio musicians who started recording together just for fun, putting together originals and cover songs that had a non-commercial sound. That resulted in an indie record called Speak No Evil.

When Joe Galante saw the band in a Nashville club, he offered a contract the next day. The band signed about two months later and was recording for the BNA release while mixing the first record.

“Everybody I’ve talked to that’s been in the industry for any length of time said, ‘Man, that’s fairly unheard of that you signed so quick,'” Schell said.

Paul Worley took over production work and soon afterward, a single was released, “Barbed Wire and Roses.” The song is already on some karaoke machines and Pinmonkey was recently coaxed onstage at a small bar to sing its “version.”

The band gets lots of comparisons to Pure Prairie League, Poco and other ’70s bands, but Schell wouldn’t deny there was a connection to The Band, either. A picture of the ’60s icons hangs in Pinmonkey’s tour bus and Schell said he tried channeling Levon Helm into his drumming for the ballad “Augusta,” which should hopefully be a single.

The street date for the eponymous Pinmonkey has been pushed back from August to October. In the meantime, the band is living (quite well) off its indie release and has had its share of namedropping opportunities. It has already shared the stage with Alan Jackson, Willie Nelson, Lee Ann Womack and Brad Paisley. The Grand Ole Opry show (at the Ryman Auditorium) and another standing ovation at the AMAs took place within 18 hours of each other.


“We’ve also done some George Jones dates and a Loretta Lynn date,” Schell said. “But, on the other side of the fence, we’ve done Lonestar and Diamond Rio, whose audience also gets us.”

But what about that damned Pin and that friggin’ monkey?

“On first blush, you kind of roll your eyes,” manager Rick Alter told POLLSTAR. “But in hindsight, it’s actually turned out to be a great moniker. It all is starting to make sense when people see where the name came from and everything.”

Singer Michael Reynolds was at home watching an episode of “The Simpsons.” In it, Homer Simpson says his dream job is setting pins at a bowling alley (aka, a pin monkey). Right then, Nashville’s Sutler Saloon called, needing to send the week’s itinerary in to the newspaper and had to have a name for Reynolds’ band. Quick.

Another bit of press happened when the band’s tour bus caught fire this summer. The instruments were saved and the band played that evening, but the bus was toast. Soon, the PR wheels rolled and Pinmonkey was dubbed “The Hottest Band In Nashville.”

“There’s one good thing that came from that,” Schell said. “People wanted to know more about that bus fire than about the name. But, that quickly subsided.”

So, has Schell heard of labels signing up bands named Golf Caddie?

He laughed. “You know, honestly, yes. I’ve heard of some labels signing some other bands that are similar to us recently.”

Buddy Lee Attractions VP Paul Lohr offered to book the band after seeing it at a club, long before the hubbub. He told POLLSTAR it’s still about 90 percent outgoing calls for Pinmonkey, 10 percent coming in, plus Buddy Lee’s doing lots of e-mailing and CD kits.

Lohr added that although the arena gigs are important right now, there’s an Americana element to Pinmonkey that fits the Tellurides and Merlefests, and allows small club buyers an opportunity this fall to catch the band on the way up.

“There’s nothing I like better than taking an artist that’s brand new and laying the cornerstones, taking the extra time and effort to talk to the smaller buyers,” he said, “because I know in my heart of hearts that one day, this is going to be one of our next arena attractions.”