Lauren Staley used to hate the taste of whiskey.

"The past four years, it's grown on me," she said during a recent phone interview.

That's because in 2009, Staley and her husband Jason Morrow formed The Whiskey Gentry - a band that mashes country, bluegrass and roots sounds.

"We're not technically bluegrass since we have drums and electric instruments," Staley said. "We do have some of those elements and songwriting (techniques)."

The group's name prompts concertgoers to buy them shots of the distilled alcoholic beverage.

"People just assume you drink whiskey," Staley said with a laugh. "You kind of have to adapt your palate."

But the name wasn't inspired by the drink as much as by a man who wrote about it.

In spring 1970, Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson visited the Kentucky Derby and reported on what he experienced in the article titled "The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved."

He wrote: "It was a face I'd seen a thousand times at every Derby I'd ever been to. I saw it, in my head, as the mask of the whiskey gentry - a pretentious mix of booze, failed dreams and a terminal identity crisis..."

Staley said she liked how "whiskey gentry" sounded.

"It's a catchy band name," she added. "You can read into it if you want."

Now, Staley said she likes whiskey, especially some of the limited releases she's tasted thanks to generous fans.

She and the guys in the band hope to throw down tunes and maybe a few drinks with fans Saturday at the Burning Bridge Tavern in Wrightsville.


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While in the area, Staley said the band might visit Gettysburg as the town prepares to mark the 150th anniversary of its namesake Civil War battle.

"I didn't realize it was so close," she admitted. "We definitely need to go there."

The Atlanta band hasn't spent much time in Pennsylvania, but it's doing a string of shows in the Mid-Atlantic region this month to break out of familiar touring territory. After its new album comes out in August, The Whiskey Gentry might make another swing through the area.

"Our main goal in 2013 was to get the record finished," Staley said. "We really wanted to get to cities and markets we've never been to."

The group started working on songs many months ago and began recording in January. Earlier this month, the band added finishing touches and shot a music video. It has booked some big festivals and has shared bills with Carolina Chocolate Drops and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Some music sites have the band poised to gain national recognition this year.

But Staley said that some of the band members still keep day jobs.

And when she's not working hard on the music and on the road, Staley said she catches up on her TV. Her new obsession is the HBO series "Game of Thrones."

"I'm big into fantasy and sci-fi," she said, adding that the recent season three finale left her feeling "punched in the gut."

It might have felt like a kicking country riff or a shot of whiskey.

- ERIN McCRACKEN,
FlipSide staff

If you go

The Whiskey Gentry will perform 8:30 p.m. Saturday at the Burning Bridge Tavern, 108 Hellam St., Wrightsville. The show is free and for those 21 and older. For details, visit facebook.com/burningbridgetavern.

Stay connected

Website: thewhiskeygentry.com

Facebook: facebook.com/thewhiskeygentry

Twitter: @WhiskeyGentry

Read more band interviews: flipsidepa.com/musicdirectory

Meet the band

Lauren Staley - Vocals

Jason Morrow - Guitar

Chesley Lowe - Banjo

Sam Griffin - Bass

Price Cannon - Drums

Michael Smith - Mandolin

Rurik Nunan - Fiddle