Local music: The Apple-Bottom Gang

By Columbus Alive
From the January 19, 2012 edition

Ian Hummel has a goofball’s heart and country music in his blood, so it was only a matter of time before he started The Apple-Bottom Gang.

Hummel has logged 26 years playing music in Columbus, first tackling juvenile adult music in Poophouse Reilly then intelligent children’s music with The Shazzbots. With his latest ensemble, he’s growing up — sort of — by going back to the music of his youth.

The son of “Cowboy Bob” Hummel, whose band Rainbow Canyon scored a hit with “Franklin County Woman” in 1977, young Ian grew up immersed in old-school country records by the likes of Buck Owens, Johnny Horton and Hank Williams Sr.

Thus, Hummel’s music has always been tinged with twang, but not until he immersed himself in those old records again did he plunge head-first into old-school country.

“Trying to write new old country songs is the idea,” Hummel said.

Of course, Hummel being Hummel, it’s not all serious business. His bandmates — wife Dianne and a slew of Columbus music veterans accumulated from open mic night at Woodlands Tavern — perform under names like Fancy Jeffro, Steamboat Curly Bill and Cooter Houston, P.I. They’ve rocked dual washboards and dueling kazoos. Among their self-bestowed titles: “a hillbilly orchestra” and “the Parliament of country music.”

Sly, sure-handed songwriting serves as framework for lyrical tomfoolery; his sexual metaphors range from the conventional (“Rolling in the Hay”) to the playfully inventive (“Breakfast in Bed”).

Hummel hopes to have an album on vinyl this year, but first he wants to finance a $4,000 spinal operation for Wendell, a stray dog he adopted last month. So for the foreseeable future, the only way to hear the Gang’s twang is in the flesh at events like Woodlands’ Winter Jamboree, where they’ll shuffle on stage at 8:10 p.m. Friday.

Photo by Tessa Berg