Pig Farmer

Pig Farmer, “Makin’ Bacon”

When you see the cover of Pig Farmer’s new album, the word “campy” immediately comes to mind. After all, it’s called “Makin’ Bacon” and it sports two cartoon pigs who are ready to cook.But once you pop the CD in, “Makin’ Bacon” is actually a pretty darn good listen.Like no other local act, Pig Farmer weaves blue collar storylines into its unique brand of country, classic rock and Americana music. The new record starts with “Catch His Name,” a mid-tempo number that highlights Jim Hellerich’s signature twangy wails and guitarist Jason Riley’s Southern rock-style shredding. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better guitarist in St. Joe than Riley, who blazes through up-tempo rockers like “I Want My Life Back,” “I Think She Kinda Likes Me That Way” and the album’s closer, “Rebel in My Town.” Seriously, this dude knows his way around a scorching solo.Bassist Ben Leimkuhler — who’s new to the group — struts his stuff on “I Got Drunk,” a catchy bass-heavy boogie that also features Hellerich on harmonica and seems like it was tailor-made for a line dance. The same could be said for “Tormented By You,” the refrains and chorus of which have been stuck in my head for the last 48 hours.“Makin’ Bacon” also features a soulful, spiced-up cover of Johnny Cash’s “Frankie’s Man Johnny” that really kicks some butt. Anchored by drummer Jay Albright’s cymbal strikes and keyboarder Kevin Snowden’s gospel-style strokes, it’s undoubtedly one of the best covers of the song ever made.If you like traditional country with splashes of classic rock, blues and soul, “Makin’ Bacon” should have you sizzling.

Shea Conner
St. Joseph News-Press

Around Hear/Discs

Luckily, Pig Farmer is not another pig-obsessed industrial band. The band's singer, Jimmy Hellerich, grew up on a pig ranch in Missouri, and he brings his experiences to life with genuine country tunes such as Fishin' and Country Boy. Although the entire disc has an innocent boyish charm to it, bass player Dan Woody occasionally comes up with some sinister Cramps-style bass lines, and the bouncy stomp-along When We Fight deals with grown-up relationship problems. Hellerich's voice is appropriately twangy, although at times he can pull off a convincing Chris Isaac impression. On the album's rousing punkabilly closer, he reveals his biggest influence as he sings I wanna be just like Johnny Cash. This slop-free disc is a step in the right direction.

Andrew Miller, Kansas City's PitchWeekly, February 4-10, 1999 No. 560, p. 54

Pig Farmer too slippery to categorize

Observations: It's impossible to pigeonhole this band into one musical style; they're all over the board. Kiss, Kuddle and Koo is solid rockabilly in the vein of the Blasters and Joe Ely, while By My Side is a pretty love song. When We Fight is a country song that would do Nashville proud, and I Am In Love With You is a medium rocker that sounds a little like Marshall Crenshaw. The band represents a nice swath across Northwest Missouri, as (Jimmy) Hellerich is from Savannah, (Dan) Woody is from Albany and (Jay) Albright is from Cameron. Albright, incidentally, is assistant band director at Cameron High School. (The man pictured on the CD cover, by the way, is J.W. Harris, Hellerich's grandfather).

Todd Weddle, St. Joseph News-Press Friday, March 5, 1999 p. D8

Northwest Missouri band releases first 'punk-a-billy' CD

With special thanks to Grandpa and his pig George, a Northwest Missouri band is bringing its unique music to the public.

With an upbeat blend of rock and country music described as "punk-a-billy," Pig Farmer has released its first CD and is venturing into the national market. <br< <p="">The band's founder and lead singer Jimmy Hellerich grew up on a Missouri pig farm and many of the songs he has written draw on those roots, including I Want To Be A Pig Farmer and Country Boy.

Hellerich now lives in Savannah, Mo. Bass player Dan Woody of Albany, Mo., lived in Maryville for a while and attended Northwest Missouri State University. He credits his Aunt Twila for turning him on to the bass by telling him "We dance to the groove of the bass line," and Lee T. Schneider for teaching him to count. The band is rounded out by drummer Jay Albright, who is also the assistant band director at Cameron, Mo., High School.

The group's influences cover a wide range of musical tastes. Woody used to perform in heavy metal bands and said he has been influenced by the likes of Neil Young and Jimi Hendrix. Albright grew up listening to 80's rock, while Hellerich's biggest influences are Johnny Cash and Neil Diamond.

"That's how we came up with our funky sound," Woody said.

Hellerich agreed that Pig Farmer's music defies description, yet it appeals to wide audiences, from children to seniors.

"There's a little bit of everything on the album but it's all down home," he said. "There's nothing I'd be afraid to play for my grandmother."

Hellerich writes all of the group's tunes. He wrote his first song Freddy the Frog in eighth grade and the song will be on Pig Farmer's second CD, which will be released later this year. Most of his songs combine heartfelt emotion with a little country wisdom and sheepish humor, such as the number, "I don't like it when we fight (I'll be sleeping on the couch tonight)."

A highly favorable review in Pitch Weekly, an underground newspaper in Metro Kansas City, described Pig Farmer's CD as having an "innocent boyish charm," but noted Albright and Woody add some "sinister" rhythm.

Pig Farmer will hold a CD release party Saturday in Albany. From there, they have high hopes for the band. They will begin playing the college circuit soon.

"Our ultimate goal is to advance to the next level where we can sell our own records and go out and play our music," Hellerich said.

Susan Mires, Daily Forum Staff, Maryville Daily Forum, Friday, February 26, 1999 p. 1