Breckenridge Texan

Urban Pioneers entertain local crowd with Hillbilly Swing Music

Urban Pioneers entertain local crowd with Hillbilly Swing Music
February 11
08:27 2018
  • The Urban Pioneers lit up the National Theatre stage Saturday night, bringing their signature sound to town for the second time at the invitation of Friends of Historic Breckenridge.

Featuring Breckenridge native Liz Sloan on fiddle, along with Jared McGovern on banjo and guitar, and Martin Sargent on upright bass, the band had the audience clapping in time from the very first number. They performed songs from their just-released Hillbilly Swing Music, as well as from their previous three albums.

Their sound is best described in the lyrics of the title song from that new album: “We call it hillbilly swing music, oh western string music, mixin’-the-Texas-with-the-East-Tennessee music, cowboy boots and overalls, let’s all have a ball…”

Indeed, the band members hail from both Texas and Tennessee. Sloan is originally from Breckenridge, and Sargent is from Fort Worth. According to the bio on the group’s website, McGovern lived all over the South when he was growing up but considers Chattanooga, Tennessee, as his hometown.

McGovern started out the night on the banjo, but about halfway through the set, he switched to his guitar for more of a Western Swing sound. After his energetic playing broke a string on the guitar, he changed back to the banjo for the rest of the performance. Sloan continually wowed the audience with her fiddle playing that ranged from rowdy to haunting and even included a couple of trick moves. Sargent and his upright bass weren’t as prominent as the other two performers, but his solo generated enthusiastic applause from the crowd.

Although their toe-tapping, hand-clapping music may be what makes much of the audience feel like dancing, the Urban Pioneers’ lyrics are definitely worth listening to, from the traditional High on a Mountain – “High on the mountain, wind blowing free, wondering about the days that used to be” – to the the humorous Never Had a Waffle at the Waffle House – “Well, I never had a waffle at the Waffle House, though I been there about a million times, never had a waffle at the Waffle House ’cause the biscuits just cost 20 dimes.”

The Waffle House song was preceded by the audience getting a look at McGovern’s Waffle House tattoo on his abdomen.

They closed the night with their love song, Walk This Earth: “Now we walk this earth together, let this world go and spin out of control, when I tell you that I love you means forever and I’ll never let you go.”

The Urban Pioneers will head out next week on tour to promote Hillbilly Swing Music, but they’ll be back in this area by April, when Sloan and McGovern are getting married at the family’s McLemore Ranch in Shackelford County. To celebrate their wedding, the couple are hosting the “Walk This Earth Festival” April 20-22. The lineup includes Carrie Nation & the Speakeasy, The Hooten Hallers, Joseph Huber and many more. For more information, visit the website


Story by Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

Cutline, top photo: Martin Sargent, from left, Jared McGovern and Liz Sloan — the Urban Pioneers — brought their Hillbilly Swing Music style to Breckenridge’s National Theatre Saturday night. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

For more photos from the concert, click here to view the Breckenridge Texan’s photo gallery.

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