A Few Minutes with… Sly Fox and the Hustlers

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Sly Fox and the Hustlers is a band equally informed by Chicago blues and Bob Dylan’s socially-conscious songwriting. “I think songwriting – the way I prefer it to be done is storytelling, and I’ve been a writer my whole life; I’ve been writing poetry since I was a kid, so I think that’s a key part for me. I’m big on the words; melody is king, no doubt, but it’s nice to have it be something meaningful,” Sly told me at Putnam Place in Saratoga Springs before the Hustlers hit the stage this past Saturday. The very nucleus of the group is Sly Fox on guitar and vocals and Dylan Storm on bass guitar. The newest members are Sean Ireland on drums and Zak Young on lead guitar – and occasionally Dustin DeLuke on keys.

Photo by Leif Zurmuhlen

The band just did their most extensive tour to date. From Georgia to Tennessee, from Missouri to Illinois, and then straight through to Ohio, then back to New York City with one last stop in Connecticut. Needless to say, although Sly Fox and the Hustlers just played their 11th-anniversary show, they show no signs of slowing down.

During our conversation, Sly then does his best impression of Robert Plant: “I once saw an interview with Robert Plant where he said when they asked him what his thought was on America: ‘well there are many different Americas then, isn’t there?'”

“Even though we mainly did south and midwest, what it seemed like was the further we went south things got a little different and as we started to climb back up through the midwest and back up north, there were all different kinds of people – all good people. But down south, the most interesting thing was the hospitality – the southern hospitality – people were super nice, receptive to the music. Somebody said to me, ‘welcome home brother’. He said that to me at the merch table after the show; our music pulls from there. The south has the blues, the roots.”

The guys plan on hitting that same route again in 2022 but will also be headed to the west coast in addition. That’s not all the good news; Sly Fox and the Hustlers will be releasing their third album on 02/22/2022. Their newest record will steer the band in a new direction.

“I would say it’s a little bit of a new direction, kind of like a widening, the ranges of what we do. I would say, we’re all writing; the first two CDs were basically written entirely by myself, and it’s nice to have a writing partner. I came up playing with Sean Rowe, so I’ve always had a writing partner my whole life since I was ten years old, so, it is nice to be back to that.”

Where is this new inspiration and burst of energy coming from? Possibly from being couped up during the COVID-19 shutdown – at least it had a silver lining for many creative types, including our very own Sly Fox. “I did a lot of soul searching – especially on the guitar tones and even the songwriting itself; I got into a lot of theory during COVID, so I was doing a lot of kind of schooling myself on songwriting in general.”

photo by Leif Zurmuhlen

It’s not just better songwriting we can expect from the boys in 2022, but they are also expanding their sound in the recording studio alongside the wizard himself, Tim Lynch of The Recording Company.

“When Sean (Ireland) joined the band, his only stipulation was that the band work with Tim Lynch. “Sean’s been working with him forever. Sean does session stuff for him. But he’s (Lynch) is fantastic. He’ll throw ideas out but he’ll follow you down your own rabbit hole. Plus he’s not scared to tell you something’s shitty.” What new improvements can we expect from their upcoming record?

“I think the guitar tones are better than ever; we’re doing a lot with open-tunings. We’re using a lot of different types of guitar and amp combinations. We’re working on what fits the song, rather than picking one thing and sticking to it. We’re trying to cherry-pick what’s going to make this song the best. I think that methodical approach is going to show.”

Sly Fox and the Hustler’s newest single will be out in January, and their newest record will be out on 02/22/2022.

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