Press

There are a million places to enjoy a champagne toast at midnight, but where else but at the NYC Opry will revelers raise a complimentary can of Pabst at midnight? This time around, the rootsy showcase features . . . Alex Battles and his Whiskey Rebellion, serving up a sly, catchy mix of old-fashioned country songs.

—TimeOut New York
December 28, 2006

 

If you happened to be walking along Fifth Avenue between Sterling Place and St. John’s on a recent evening, the shouts of “Ya-hoo!” resounding from the depths of a cavernous bar during a punk-rock rendition of “Hong Kong Collision” were not in your imagination. For onstage at Southpaw, Alex Battles was hollering into the mic, Hilary Hawk was rocking out on the banjo in her red miniskirt, there were guys on standup bass, washboard, electric guitar, and a glass jug at work, and the euphoric crowd just couldn’t help itself. But be careful next time you pass—their fever is catching.One thing is for sure: If the Brooklyn accent can be tinged with Southern twang, if the yuppies of Park Slope can be lured to hootenannies in blue collar bars, if the Williamsburg hipsters can bob their heads to some killer banjo-picking on their iPods, Alex Battles is the man to make it happen.

—Stacey Cook, The Brooklyn Rail
October 12, 2006

 

The third annual Brooklyn country Music Festival, brought to you by dock Oscar and Alex Battles, a pair of Kings County country singers, songwriters, and impresarios. The scene takes traditional Nashville and electrified Bakersfield honky-tonk aesthetics as a guide but adds a gritty native pulse, influenced by rumbling subway trains, alternate side of the street parking, and the presence of a few million close neighbors. Oscar’s band Sweet William and Battles’s group the Whisky Rebellion join eleven other acts.

—The New Yorker
September 11, 2006

 

The one-day [3rd Annual] Brooklyn Counry Music Festival kicks off on September 9, which raises he inevitable question: There’s a country music festival in Brooklyn?
Not only that, but fans of honky-tonk, bluegrass and rockabilly don’t need o plan a trip around it. There’s a spirited country scene every weeknd in New York City and, modest though it may be, you’d need a cold, cold heart not to be charmed.

—Seth Kugel, The New York Times
August 13, 2006

 

The American flag behind the drummer seemed to flutter to the beat of the honky-tonk music while a singer in a cowboy hat crooned about heartache and booze to a crowd that could feel his pain. Except for the yellow cabs glimpsed through the window and the New York Giants football atop a speaker, this could have been a Friday night anywhere in the American heartland.But the cowboy in question, Alex Battles, frontman for the country band Whisky Rebellion, was crooning at Hank’s Saloon, a Brooklyn bar at the heart of New York’s surprisingly lively live country music scene. Paying homage to classic country with a distinctly New York twang, Hank’s and other bars around the city are fast proving that Gotham is a country town at heart.

—Phil Wahba, San Antonio Express-News
June 4, 2006

 

“We play for free beer and girls who smile at us,” says Battles, a tireless organizer who performs under the name Whisky Rebellion. In addition to the country festival—where he said he broke even, selling T-shirts to offset the cost of the free hot dogs—he is the force behind the monthly CasHank open mic and pulled together a country/burlesque “Jugfest” benefit for victims of Hurricane Katrina at Southpaw on September 8. For Battles—an Ohio transplant who’s been in New York for 10 years—”Brooklyn Country” is a sort of subgenre, a music for Midwestern transplants, steeped in the ’70s but with a punk ethos, grimier than the musicianship of the Village bluegrass circles.

—Kurt Gottschalk, Village Voice
November 8, 2005

 

“Country music fans tend to be a little more generous,” says Alex Battles, front man for The Whisky Rebellion and co-organizer of two new country music festivals in Brooklyn. “They’re willing to do a lot to support this gentle, simple melodic music.”Last year, Brooklyn saw the birth of three country music events: The Brooklyn Country Music Festival, The Kings County Opry and The CasHank Hootenanny Jamboree. The events struck a chord with fans from as far away as Connecticut. They loved the stark, edgy music of the bands, many of whom were influenced by country singers of the 1940s and 1950s.

—Tommy Fernandez, Crain’s New York
November 6, 2005

 

Clad in trucker’s hat, brandishing a legal pad full of just-finished lyrics, and a drawling, lazy voice, Battles can wrap audiences around his knotty fingers.

–—Nate Schweber, Village Voice
September 13, 2005

 

“As with most unlikely renaissances, Brooklyn’s current Cash – Hank – Hag – Buck – Willie fixation has it its core an unlikely anti-hero. In this case it’s Alex Battles, a 33-year-old singer, banjo-picker, and music publishing staffer. Battles, who began his New York musical career in a Lower East Side comedy club playing the Village People’s “In the Navy” on the banjo, says the reason an event like the Cash birthday bash became a destination for both musicians as well as hipsters is simple: “Everybody loves Johnny Cash.”

—Robert Baird, No Depression
August, 2005

 

Best Hootenanny Series

The last Thursday of every month, Buttermilk hosts the CASHANK HOOTENANNY JAMBOREE, “an acoustic classic country jam” where everyone is invited to play country songs from before 1970, preferably written by Hank Williams or Johnny Cash. Songs must contain four chords or less, so eager locals, filling the room with their banjos, fiddles, washboards, and tambourines, can follow along. The rowdy strumming, along with a pitcher of Yuengling, is enough to soothe a cowboy’s heartache.

—Lori Cole, The Village Voice
July, 2005

 

“Oh darling you’re the last thing I needed,” sing Alex Battles and Lael Logan on May 13 in a sweet, Southern-drawled unison as the opry unfolds. “The last thing I needed was a girl/boy that I could love, but you didn’t leave me feeling cheated.” Love affairs, broken hearts, big-town boys and old, country roads echo throughout the evening, but what starts out slow eventually gives way to hand-clapping, feet-stomping beats that excite the tightly packed audience members.

—Chiara Cowan, The Brooklyn Paper
June 12, 2004

 

Also, to add to the quality of the Friday, sometimes-NYSX contributor and singer/songwriter Alex Battles was playing in the Freddy’s backroom and did a grand, a “garage” punk rock number called “Hong Kong Collision.” More heartfelt than TSOL’s “Flowers by the Door” and more upbeat than “Vagabonds” by New Model Army (coming to Park Slope, by the way—May 7 at Southpaw), Battles and his Whisky Rebellion act has an easy hit in the making. A triple into the gap, I’d say.

—Spike Vrusho, New York Sports Express
April 22, 2004