In my time working at the hub that is Toppling Goliath, I got to witness a lot of live music from all around the area. However, it seems as though no band gets the crowd riled up quite like the Buck Hollow Band. With cold beer, classic cars, and even more classic tunes, the Buck Hollow Band is always there to have a good time.
John and Teresa Condon have been playing guitars and singing together for 31 years now—which, according to John, equates to almost 3,470 gigs—forming as a duo in 1990. They are known to play all throughout the Driftless area, as John puts it, “Mostly within two hours of here.” However, they say that they love playing in Decorah, stating “it’s great to see there are so many places in Decorah that are supporting live music,” and noting how “refreshing” it is to see how many places there are to play in the area.
Their music, always upbeat and jovial, gets the people on their feet as they break into a constant stream of crowd favorites. Their earnest country demeanor, coupled with years of experience in venues full of people looking to have a good time, creates music that is accessible and just plain fun. Their setlist at Toppling Goliath in July of this year included hits such as “Folsom Prison Blues” by Johnny Cash, “Ex’s and Oh’s” by Elle King, and of course, because they were playing at a brewery, “People are Crazy” by Billy Currington (you know, the one that goes “God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy”).
The two guitar players and vocalists utilize backing tracks for all the songs that they play, creating a whole band sound with just a duo. Additionally, the band owns a multitude of guitars (including one shaped like the state of Iowa), meaning they can subtly shift their tone to match any genre of the seemingly endless number of songs they employ. This infinite supply is in high demand, as people love to dance to Buck Hollow Band. In fact, for their gig at Toppling Goliath, the customers demanded there be a proper dance floor so that people could go out and cut a rug. John said, “We’re known as a group you can dance to” and that they “prefer to have dancers. It’s somewhat uncomfortable [for us] to play when people aren’t dancing.”
As for the band themselves, John and Teresa are both retired teachers, who enjoy living out in the country and “doing country things.” When they were getting started, a neighbor of theirs offered them the name “Buck Hollow,” as the road they live on used to be home to “a bunch of Norwegian bachelor farmers” or “bucks” and the road was called “Buck Hollow” as a result. For John, he always knew he wanted to be in a band and asked me: “Do you remember when you were 12 years old, and you heard an electric guitar for the first time?”
Whenever the Buck Hollow Band performs, you can rest assured that you will be able to sing and dance along to at least one song in their set. As a covers band, they create the perfect atmosphere for people to relax and get whisked away to a fond memory they have of a certain song. For me, that was their performance of “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles. With the sun shining, a cold pint in hand, and my attention firmly on the band, I was thrilled to hear one of my favorite songs—and one that always puts me in a good mood.
While the venues aren’t arenas, the atmosphere is just as fun for the Buck Hollow Band, who enjoyed their eighth time playing at Toppling Goliath. It’s “often magic” getting to play music live, John said.
Catch Buck Hollow Band entertaining from 6 to 9 p.m. Sept. 23 at Elsie’s, 226 E. Main Street in Caledonia, Minn.
For a full schedule, find the Buck Hollow Band on Facebook or visit www.buckhollowband.com.
(A note from Connor: When I first came to the Driftless region, one of the things that stood out to me is how much live music is in the area. My love and knowledge of music borders on obsession, so thankfully I live in an area that can provide me with an unending stream of live shows and good bands. I look forward to sharing my “Driftless Playlist” with readers.)