It started as an act of independence and expression when Jesse Charles Hammock II came home to Missouri in 2008 to record a solo album after 6 years on the road playing every bar from Charlotte, NC to Los Angeles, CA that would pay him in draft beer and gas money.
Hammock had gone from learning the guitar at age 20 after an automobile accident that caused over $50,000 worth of damage to a main street building plaza and landed him in the county jail…to a road musician who had shared the stage with The Black Crowes, The North Mississippi All-Stars, and Gov’t Mule just to name a few.
After two previous records with the late and legendary Memphis producer Jim Dickinson, Jesse brought together two of his closest friends (Pat McSpadden, Bass / Jeff Chapman, Lead Guitar) and his cousin (Andrew Bedell / Drums) to record the effort, with Chapman producing at his own Trumble Hill Studios in backwoods Carter County.
What followed were recording sessions fueled by booze, desire and unity, as all of the musicians started bringing their ideas and personal touches to the music Jesse had written. After recording the song “Highway Robbery”, Jesse decided that the process would no longer be a solo effort.
They took the name Powder Mill, named after a place they had grown up on the Current River, and the name’s allusion to the explosive, combustible feel of the band soon took on a meaning of its own.
“New Mountain” was released soon after and the band received high praise from critics, selling in over 8 different countries and across the United States.
Riding the high of their new-found collaboration, Powder Mill did not waste any time as they stepped back into the studio the very next year and recorded “Do Not Go Gently” and received even greater success with help from album reviews, Sirius/XM airplay, radio airplay and CD sales around the globe.
What started as a side project / solo effort had morphed into a musical powerhouse of southern rock, country blues, and the truth. Dickinson described the songwriting as “top drawer,” and these songs about hard living, hard times, and easy women seem to ring true with Powder Mill’s fans, affectionately known as “Millbillies.”
With the release of their 3rd studio effort in as many years, Powder Mill became a force to be reckoned with in the Outlaw Country and Southern Rock movement. “Money, Marbles and Chalk” proved these guys will not go gently into the night and have plenty of stories to tell and rock to roll. From the relentless urging of “Another Mile” to the frustrated reckless abandon of “Bed of Roses,” the record reeks of vivid Ozark country realism.
Chris Richards of The Washington Post described “Money, Marbles and Chalk” this way — “One of the best rock albums of 2010 came creeping out of the Ozarks stinking of meth and misery. Powder Mill, a grizzled Missouri quartet, felt like Southern rock’s answer to Dead Moon: a band of outsider survivalists who understood greatness and sounded like they had lived hard pursuing it.”
The contrast between the rawness of the “New Mountain” record and the intentional slopbucket rock and roll and country truth of MMC is glaring, but the band’s trademark Ozark mud, muck, and filth rears its homegrown head consistently on every record. There is a charm to their lack of pretention that plagues so many up-and-comers in today’s music industry, but it is because Powder Mill’s stories and their songs are true.
These themes continue to resonate on their latest release, “Land Of The Free”: rock-n-roll rooted in endlessly honest soil, taking full advantage of Southern musical traditions, but also brazenly country, embracing the world outside big cities, tying to the land and its cyclical flow in tangible, lived ways. Dennis Cook of Dirty Impound describes the band as “overflowing with ideas, unabashedly Southern and serving up something as satisfying as cornbread & honey butter.”
Powder Mill brings to mind an outfit of roughians, backwoods hillbillies that live hard and rock harder. But upon further investigation, they are a family of kindred throwbacks who do not have the desire to pay mind to the happenings in the current music industry or the mainstream. Honest, homegrown, down-home, simple…whatever you want to call it.
Lead Vocals/Guitars-Jesse Charles Hammock II
Guitars/Backing Vocals-Jeff Chapman
Basses/Backing Vocals-Pat McSpadden
“New Mountain” – 2008
“Do Not Go Gently” – 2009
“Money, Marbles and Chalk” – 2010
“LIVE in Carter County” – 2011
“Land of the Free” – 2013