Straw Hat Society
Story by Billy Keith Bucher and Rachel Williams, Photos by Mary Jane Farmer
Rachel Williams was the first person to tell me (Bucher) about Straw Hat Society when I went hear Porter’s Bluff at Wings Over Kaufman. Her excitement was so sincere and contagious that I knew I had to check them out. Talking with members of Porter’s Bluff only strengthened my curiosity. They were, at the time, working on the details of the Marshmallow Jam (Walton, Texas) and Straw Hat was a headliner. When I started working on this story I decided to ask Rachel to write a little bit about the group to stir up interest in her own special way…
“When I’m asked about the Straw Hat Society,” said Rachel, “my eyes light up, my smile starts taking over my entire face, and I just start telling people all about the band and just how good they are! I instantly feel a crazy energy when I talk about them and which make people want to listen to them!
“I first heard Straw Hat Society around October of 2015 and INSTANTLY fell in love with them and their music. Every song just gets you going! You can’t help but tap your feet, clap like chilling out, there is no better way to do it, than to grab a cold beer and turn on some Straw Hat! You will definitely end up in a better mood when the music ends!!
“When someone ask me which song is my favorite, I just start laughing. I love every single song on the CD! There is no favorite. I never turn it on just to listen to one song…..I listen to all of them! Every time! Everyone in the band is great and they work so well with the crowd. They make you smile and make sure that you’re having a good time….EVERY TIME!
“I can honestly say I will be listening to them for many years to come! I couldn’t be more thankful for being introduced to them and their music. Every time they come around here, I do everything possible to make sure I get to see them! I tell anyone I ever talk to about them….if you haven’t seen them….you’ve got to do it!!! YOU WILL LOVE THEM!!”
There certainly are a lot of bands who would love to have more fans such as Rachel. The first time
when I heard Straw Hat where I could really sit back and enjoy them was at a concert at the square of downtown Athens, Texas, in an effort to restore the Texan theatre as a venue for bands to perform. One of the things I noted right away was that besides their strong original material, the group also played some well placed songs such as the old Woody Guthrie song, “John Henry.” The newest member, Rodney Key is in the forefront in this one with a heavy slapping bass that makes your foot want to move.
“Rodney,” said lead singer Rags O’Hooligan in a recent telephone interview, ” joined the band in February of 2015. From the first gig, he made a real impact in the feeling of the group. He is, for sure, the pulse of the group. We started as a group in 2014 when Meaux Goudeau came back Dallas from a trip to Portland, Oregon. We really want to have the audience have a good experience when they come to hear us. Besides “John Henry” which is always a crowd pleaser, we do songs such as Modest Mouse’s tune “Ocean Breeze Salty.”
And people who see Straw Hat Society for the first time will notice the group’s mascot sitting at the front of the stage. The tiger is sporting a hat and when I asked Rags about the him, he said they had captured him from a club in Granbury.
“It used to be white,” laughed Rags, “but after being in clubs with us, he has turned into a brownish grey.”
Straw Hat will be one of the headliners at the Marshmallow Jam which runs June 24-26. They will perform on the 25th. I talked with Chaz West, who owns the Westmoreland Land about directions to the event.
Said West, the best way to find your way there is to hit Highway 19, which runs from Canton to Athens. “Whether you are running north or south, the crossroad is Hwy 1861. It is right in the middle of the drive of 12 miles. If you are heading south, you can turn right on the intersection. That will be in the little town of Walton. Go 3 miles to the left and you will see CR 3901 after going to a yellow sign. Take a right and follow this road. On this country road you will stay to the left. You will see a yellow house there and that is where you would like to turn, but don’t go to yellow house. Just follow the small road down the hill to the right and our land. There is an area to camp right near the stage.
“Please, though, no glass bottles. That is the only rule,” said Chaz with a smile.