The name, 40 Horse Mule, comes from a line in a song describing a tractor, written by banjo and bass player, Bennie Boling, “Year after year he broke the hard ground, with his ol' 40 horse Ford mule”. Boling had been wanting to do this project for several years, so when the time seemed right, he enlisted the help of friends that he had known and worked with throughout his musical career. 40 Horse Mule's goal is to write, record and make available, originals and also their versions of some standards. "We hope to have songs that most everyone can recognize or relate to". 40 Horse Mule is heavy on songs with a message; Boling commented, “I love a song with a message. I figure if I have about 3 minutes to say something I had better get to the point, and try to make it interesting to whomever is listening.”
Billy "Troy" Gravess, son of the late, great Uncle Josh Graves from the legendary Flatt and Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys, sings lead vocal and brings a lifetime of music and experience to this project. Boling commented: “I have always liked a heavy bass sound, along with a strong lead vocal, when I listen to music. That’s why Billy Troy makes this project so much fun for me. He has that powerful, experienced voice that only comes with time and talent. Billy and I have written several songs together throughout the years, and now are rediscovering how some of those songs work great for the 40 Horse Mule sound.”
For the first single, Hell, Fire and Brimstone, we were fortunate to have these amazing pickers and friends. Steve Huber is on banjo, and his name is well-known in the bluegrass world, not only for his many years as a player but also for the instruments he builds through his Huber Banjo Company and his extensive knowledge of pre-war Gibson banjos. Steve has worked with The Paisleys, Paul Adkins, Kenny and Amanda Smith, and other known names in the bluegrass field. Boling commented, "having Steve help out on this project was like having our own human metronome…a really tall metronome!"
Jason Roller not only helped out on the recording’s first single, Hell, Fire and Brimstone, by putting down incredible guitar and fiddle tracks, but did the same with several other songs on 40 Horse Mule's first EP, and we were honored to have him! He is one of Nashville’s nicest and most talented musicians for sure. Marc MacGlashan was kind enough to put the icing on the cake with his phenomenal, solid mandolin playing. He has been a favorite of Boling’s for many years! Keith Tew sang the harmony vocals; Boling says he was, “lucky enough to have worked with Keith Tew while traveling as banjo player with the Farm Hands, and was able to talk him into doing the harmony vocals on this project. Great job, Keith!”
40 Horse Mule would like to thank everyone who helped make this possible, including Scott Vestal at Digital Underground Recording Studio for all the time, hard work, and valuable input with our first single, Hell, Fire and Brimstone. We especially want to thank Chris Latham at Gorilla’s Nest Recording Studio, for his time, support and hard work on recording and putting together the rest of our EP. We also want to thank our families and our friends, Sheryl Graves for the awesome logos for the EP and coffee, Patty Lindley for the great logo on Hell, Fire and Brimstone, Casey Penn at Pennwords.com for the latest cool logo, John Lawless at Bluegrass Today, The Bluegrass Jamboree , Bluegrass Planet Radio, Worldwide Bluegrass, GHS strings, Pitt Resophonic Guiters, Magic Shack Productions, Gruhn Guitars for having just the bass I was looking for, and everyone who encouraged and supported us in making 40 Horse Mule a reality!
And above all, we thank God for giving us this opportunity to do what we love.
Hanging out with Billy at Hilltop Studio in Madison,
Having some fun at The Gorilla's Nest Studio in Ashland City, Tennessee