If you're a craft beer fan in North Texas, you're well-acquainted with Fish Fry Bingo, the good-time hillbilly quintet that's carved out a niche as the house band for nearly every brewery in town. Whether serenading tour goers at Lakewood Brewing or providing a musical backdrop at the Common Table on a Saturday night, FFB is your band.
Was your band? Four of the five members have left to form a new group called Shotgun Friday. According to banjoist and craft beer nut Tony Drewry, he and three other members — Matthew Broyles, Adrian "Doc" Cook and Blackie Graham — decided to branch out after creative differences with FFB founder Dan Benjamin.
"When he started the band, it was more stripped-down in a raw hillbilly vibe," Drewry says. "As one by one we came into the band, we brought different musical influences, and it came down to Dan wanting to get back to the roots of the band."
"It’s still the four guys from the same band, and it’ll be deeply rooted by what people have known of Fish Fry Bingo for the last few years,” says banjoist Tony Drewry.
Benjamin has reunited with original members — banjoist Pookee Chambers and Greg New on upright bass. "We're doing more of the barn-burning hillbilly bluegrass music; that's how the band first started out," Benjamin says.
Drewry says Shotgun Friday will incorporate a variety of genres.
"It’s still the four guys from the same band, and it’ll be deeply rooted by what people have known of Fish Fry Bingo for the last few years," Drewry says. "We’re going to do some other things too. I have a background in yeehaw, reggae and hip hop, and the other guys have some heavy country roots."
The question is, who will prevail as the go-to brewery band — or, as St. Arnold Brewery's marketing guru Lennie Ambrose once crowned them, "the official band of Texas craft beer"? Fish Fry has the name recognition. But Drewry has the passion for the craft brew world.
"I am a huge craft beer advocate," Drewry says. "I've worked for breweries, I've worked for bars, I know everybody who's anybody in craft beer world. There's a natural connection between breweries and our band.
"We write a lot of songs about drinking beer, about my life on the road being a beer guy. I think that helped Fish Fry get this niche. It's even gotten to the point where my friends have asked, 'So what's up with this beer thing?'"
In fact, the name of the band came from a movement that Drewry created devoted to shotgunning craft beer to celebrate Fridays.
For now, Shotgun Friday is hanging on to a few preexisting Bingo gigs and building its following via the usual methods including a new Facebook page. "We're looking forward to getting back out there,” Drewry says, pointing to the natural connection between craft beer and independent music at events like Untapped.
"The attitudes and themes blend together really nicely," he says. "We’re building on that. We've written some songs, and we're hoping to do an EP called The Texas Six Pack that’s all about Texas craft beers."