Indie Rock Ensemble Spans Decades

Joe Buck, Jr., in its latest incarnation, is only about a year old. But the roots of this indie-rock ensemble run deep, span decades, and continue to thrive in the spirit of collaboration.

Joe Buck, Jr., in its latest incarnation, is only about a year old. But the roots of this indie-rock ensemble run deep, span decades, and continue to thrive in the spirit of collaboration.
Leslie Williams (lead guitar), Rob Williams (guitar and vocals), Hanby Carter (bass), and Neil Landini (drums) of Joe Buck, Jr.

Maintaining the artistic symbiosis they established in the late 80s with Contoocook Line, guitarist/vocalist Rob Williams and bassist Hanby Carter enlisted drummer Joe Wharff to form Joe Buck — which would later become Joe Buck, Jr. in 1995.

“We played as a three-piece for a few years before packing it in when our practice space was broken into,” Williams explains. “We briefly reunited in 2007 to record a four song EP called Waitin’ Around, but didn’t play any live shows.”

The ensemble began recording its latest CD, , in 2010, joined on lead guitar by Paul Johnson, formerly of Waxing Poetics. In 2011, when Johnson and Wharff were no longer available, Leslie Williams, Neil Landini, and Tom Beekman stepped in to finish the project and form today’s Joe Buck, Jr.

The band’s current line-up represents Williams’ first collaboration with a particular artist who is intimately familiar with his musical development. Lead guitarist Leslie Williams, Rob’s older sister, began to teach her younger brother how to play guitar when he was 12-years old.

“I just didn’t have either the aptitude or the patience for it at that time,” Rob confesses. “Then, when I was 16, she tried again.” Leslie’s second attempt was successful enough to propel Rob into a band, an opportunity that would elude Leslie for years to come.

Leslie, whose passion for playing guitar was ignited when she attended a class at the YMCA at age eight, says she bought an electric guitar five years ago and decided to act on the ambition of her youth. “A lot of musicians I meet who are my age have been playing in bands for 20 or 30 years,” she remarks. “I always wanted to be in a band when I was a teenager, but I didn’t have the support. Now, it is one of those childhood dreams come true, and I am having a blast.”

Stylistically distinctive, Joe Buck, Jr.’s music reflects Rob’s appreciation for a range of indie-rock influences, including REM, Miracle Legion, and The Connells. “I would say the biggest influences on my song writing now are The Replacements, Buffalo Tom, and The Old 97’s,” he says.

Also evident in the band’s sound is Rob’s openness to the compositional contributions of his band mates. “Almost always, what they add to the songs is far better than what I imagined,” he notes.

“He really likes everybody to contribute their own ideas to the music,” Leslie concurs, pointing out that her own musical tastes have historically leaned toward “jam-bands and more blues-based rock.”

Currently focused on expanding the set list and arranging some small, regional tours, Joe Buck, Jr. remains committed to keeping the sound fresh and original. The steadfast collaboration that once graced the stages of long-gone local venues has demonstrated its capacity for renewal.

Article from Issue #16

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