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Critics Praise The HillBenders’ Performance of "Tommy: A Bluegrass Opry"

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The HillBenders: TommyA capacity crowd at legendary Austin venue Threadgill’s this past Saturday braved the chilly spring rain to see The HillBenders perform Tommy: A Bluegrass Opry, an all-acoustic rendition of The Who’s classic album performed in its entirety. As evidenced by the coverage in Rolling Stone, Billboard and Raleigh, NC’s News & Observer, the critically acclaimed bluegrass band’s performance at South by Southwest has been noted as one of the stand-out events at this year’s festival.

"In just one hour on stage during this year’s SXSW, The HillBenders proved that Tommy: A Bluegrass Opry is going to be a major hit," said Tommy producer and co-founder of SXSW, Louis Jay Meyers. "Being referred to as among the 'best of’ in Rolling Stone, Billboard, and the News & Observer is quite an honor."

Compass Records will release Tommy: A Bluegrass Opry in the coming weeks, with pre-sale information to be announced shortly. To showcase the project, The HillBenders have posted an in-the-studio video of what is arguably one of the best known songs from the album, “Pinball Wizard” (click here for the video) .

Upcoming performances of Tommy: A Bluegrass Opry include Nashville’s famed Station Inn on May 10th and music festivals Grey Fox (NY) and RockyGrass (CO) in July, with more dates being added. For additional details on The HillBenders, Tommy: A Bluegrass Opry and all tour dates, visit or

“You haven't heard 'Acid Queen' until you've seen it sung by a bearded man with a mandolin. Covering the Who's Tommy in its entirety as a 'bluegrass opry' for an enthusiastic rain-soaked crowd in the backyard of Threadgill's on Saturday was a genius move. They faithfully replicated the songs, even giving short synopses of the plot at key points, but embellished them with banjo, mandolin and dobro to give the music an extra moonshine kick. The HillBenders, a talented five-piece band from Missouri, proved to be the perfect group to execute this 'Whograss' concept.”
– Rolling Stone, 50 Best Things We Saw at SXSW 2015

“More proof that pretty much anything goes at SXSW? How about a reimaging of The Who’s Tommy as A Bluegrass Opry. (The HillBenders’) ambitiously and audaciously rendered version of Tommy in its entirety was well worth standing in the rain to hear.”
– Billboard (Gary Graff, 3-22-15)

“Two shows stood out well above all else. The silver medalist was Tommy, performed by a Missouri quintet called The HillBenders… it was a phenomenal and brilliantly executed homage to the classic rock opera.”
– Raleigh, NC’s News & Observer (David Menconi, 3-22-15)

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