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Ha Ha Tonka trucks toward Columbus with indie folk

Courtesy of Todd Roeth

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Ha Ha Tonka is a band willing to do whatever it takes to get an authentic indie folk sound – even if that means recording its latest album in a 200-year-old New York barn. The finished product comes complete with mandolin and some natural sounds of the barn, such as creaking floorboards.

“We recorded in a barn with two different producers. It allowed us to mix the authentic with the synthetic,” said Brian Roberts, singer and guitarist for the band. “I think the record speaks for itself when you listen to it. We’ve been fortunate enough to have a good record label behind us and people who have allowed us to make the music we want. We’ve had freedom.”

Ha Ha Tonka is scheduled to perform 8 p.m. Thursday at the Rumba Cafe.

Columbus is the first of three cities the band is hitting before wrapping up its 2012 North American tour in New York City. After New York, it’s traveling to Europe to kick off its first international tour in which the band is scheduled to play in Spain, Ireland, England, Germany and the Netherlands, among other countries.

The Ha Ha Tonka quartet maintains its roots in its hometown. Originating from Springfield, Mo., the band named itself after the Ha Ha Tonka State Park in Camdenton, Mo. Its music reflects a foundation in bluegrass, southern rock and folk culture that owes part of its existence to their Ozarks upbringing, Roberts said.

“Someone once described us as a cross between ‘Oh Brother Where Art Thou?’ and indie rock. We liked that description a lot,” Roberts said.

Ha Ha Tonka has released a total of three albums since its formation in 2005. The band released “Death of a Decade” in 2011 through Bloodshot Records.

Michelle Herbert, a second-year in pre-mechanical engineering, said she occasionally listens to the Ha Ha Tonkas and hopes to attend its show Thursday.

“They remind me a little of Vampire Weekend,” Herbert said. “I haven’t bought a ticket yet but I’d really like to go.”

Drummer Lennon Bone said the band is seeing substantial growth with each tour stop, seeing anywhere from 50 to 500 audience members in a venue. It played at Lollapalooza in Chicago, the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, and South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas.

“We’ve been lucky to do some really cool things in the past eight years – big festivals, television appearances,” Bone said. “It’s just a slow climb, so we take what we can when we can. Our main goal is to make good music and be able to have a sustainable living with the group, and I think we’re on our way.”

Tickets cost $10 and can be purchased prior to the show on Ha Ha Tonka’s website. Fox n Hounds and Blood Roots Barter are also scheduled to perform at the show, and the Rumba Cafe is located at 2507 Summit St.
 

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