Brad Burke and Mark Hanson make up the country music duo, The Highfalutin Hitchhikers. “What we’re all about is more of a classic country sound,” Hanson explains. “We’re kind of for that crowd that’s looking for what they call ‘real country’.”
Burke and Hanson were introduced by a mutual friend and have been playing together for two years. “We played open mic the first time we met,” Hanson recalls. “We played at the now closed Cheaha Brewery and that’s how we got started.”
“I play the acoustic [guitar] and sing, and then Mark plays the electric lead,” Burke says. “We tried to kind of mix it up,” Hanson adds. “I noticed a lot of duos were completely acoustic and some of the places that I have been playing through the years wanted a band but didn’t really want to play for a band. And I said well I can throw some electric in there to make it kind of more like a band type show, and it seems to work. We do pretty good.”
“I never played country music before I got with Brad,” Hanson says. “I just decided I would use my blues talent and try to mix it with some twang, and it worked. So now I’m enjoying playing this because it’s totally different than the blues and jam band rock stuff that I was doing before.”
Hanson has been playing publically for about eight years, even though he got his first guitar at age eight. “I ended up putting it up within a couple of years because nobody knew how to tune it,” Hanson recalls. “I put that guitar in my closet and it stayed in the closet for years, and when I was 22 I bought an electric guitar and taught myself how to play.”
It would be years still until Hanson got up the courage to play in front of others. “I had real bad anxiety and stage fright,” he says. “I don’t know how many years I would just play at my house by myself… my own family didn’t know I could play.”
Eventually Hanson says a fellow musician’s constant encouragement convinced him to give an open mic a try. Since then Hanson has played in several bands and is now happily hooked up with Burke, who also taught himself to play.
“I only took about three or four months of lessons, so I kind of just picked it up and taught myself how to play and how to sing,” Burke says. Over the years he would play a song here and there, but says he didn’t have the right connections to get started on his own.
Burke remembers sitting in an empty bar in downtown Anniston with a buddy who was bartending. In an effort to drum up some music his buddy suggested Burke start playing there. “He was paying me like 10% of what he made at the bar, and it’d be like ten bucks or something,” Burke laughs. “I was basically playing for free every other week and from there some people saw me and I started making connections and playing other places. Then me and Mark got together and it really took off from there.”
Both Hanson and Burke agree that having fun is the biggest part of what they do. “I’m up there enjoying listening to [Mark] play while I’m playing,” Burke says. “Brad sounds so good that it kind of energizes it and makes it where I got to play good,” Hanson says.
The Highfalutin Hitchhikers currently play venues from west Georgia to Birmingham and from Anniston to Boaz, and they’re willing to travel further if needed. They are available for private shows as well as bars and restaurants. Contact Burke and Hanson by phone or on the Highfalutin Hitchhikers Facebook page.
Check our Events Page for their upcoming shows!