It’s no secret that great art comes from the margins. From those who are either pushed to create from inner forces, or who create to show they deserve to be recognized. Los Angeles-based street singer, guitarist, and roots music revolutionary Sunny War has always been an outsider, always felt the drive to define her place in the world through music and songwriting. Her restless spirit, a byproduct of growing up semi-nomadic with a single mother, led her to Venice Beach, California, where she’s been grinding the pavement for some years now, making a name for her prodigious guitar work and incisive songwriting, which touches on everything from police violence to alcoholism to love found and lost.
David Sickmen is the songwriter and frontman of legendary Americana band Hackensaw Boys. For the past 20 years, Hackensaw Boys have been a hard-touring force of nature in the American roots music world, bringing a punk ferocity to their string band base and a powerful sensitivity to their ballad roots. Operating more as a collective than a band, Hackensaw Boys were around before the O Brother craze kick-started Americana, back in the old alt-country days. Sickmen’s a man who survived throat surgery to save his voice and endured any number of hardships over two decades on the road, but nothing hits harder than a crisis of faith for a man who’s used his own indomitable will to push past every obstacle. “I realized as a50-year-old man,” Sickmen says, “I’m too far gone to stop. I’ve waited too long to have another career. I did a lot of soul searching, trying to figure out what Hackensaw Boys even is at this point with all the people that have come and gone through it.” Sickmen realized Hackensaw Boys was more of an ethos, a mission statement to raise a little hell, encourage a more peaceful world, and bring the music back to its roots in a working-class American vernacular.