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Herb and Hanson to perform as part of Panhandle Earth Day Celebration

Herb and Hanson to perform as part of Panhandle Earth Day Celebration

SHENANDOAH JUNCTION, W.Va. — An invitation to start a rock ’n’ roll band as an after-school activity led two former high school students to create a lasting bond through music.

Onetime classmates at Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria, Va., songwriters Herbert Manila, 39, and Michael Hanson, 40, have been performing as Herb and Hanson, an acoustic-style musical duo.

Herb and Hanson will perform at the 10th annual Panhandle Earth Day Celebration, an event filled with various activities for the community beginning at 12:50 p.m. Saturday, April 21, at Sam Michaels Park in Shenandoah Junction.

Manila, who lives in Strasburg, Va., said they put in work to ensure a top-notch show for their fans.

“We really enjoy playing, that’s the best part of our day so they can definitely expect 100 percent effort,” Manila said.

Manila’s vocals, abilities on the mandolin and guitar combined with Hanson’s guitar and vocal skills produce the sounds of “new root music” in the form of blues, bluegrass, folk and rock.

They’ve performed all over the country in places such as Alaska, California, the Great Lakes and the Carolinas.

They’ve been playing about 100 shows a year, according to Manila, and always strive to introduce new music material in each performance.

“We always like to work on new things so we will be incorporating some new stuff that we haven’t played too often in our previous shows,” Manila said.

With a laugh he added, “But it won’t be completely unrehearsed.”

Fans will still hear familiar sounds from Herb and Hanson’s previous albums, “The Whiskey Fund,” released in 2009 and “Awakeness,” (2011).

“‘The Whiskey Fund’ was during a time we were studying a bunch of bluegrass so it’s a very bluegrass-influenced type of record,” Manila said.

In “Awakeness,” the sounds of horns and bells are used and Manilla described the album as “pulling away from bluegrass” and as “more eclectic than ‘The Whiskey Fund’ genre.”

Today, they continue to make and produce similar music.

“We’re currently writing a bunch of songs to record a new record, (we) don’t have an idea of the theme of the record … (we’re) just focusing on writing,” Manila said.

He noted that over the years of performing he cannot recognize a significant change in how they make music.

However, Manila also acknowledged each other’s growth in music production with the help of feedback from other artists.

“I think there’s an evolution, with us it’s tough for us to notice anything different since we’re doing this on a daily basis,” Manila said.

If the pair of musicians have a few hours to spare before a show, Manila said that they spend that time by visiting parks, other landmarks and meeting people.

Years of traveling around the country and the perks of performing have been the source of inspiration behind their music.

“They’re always very inspiring for us,” Manila said.

Continuous growth in their ability to play, produce, and perform music is the foresight for Manila.

“This whole adventure of music is headed up for us that way,” Manila said.

He wants people who attend the show to have a willingness to experience different styles of music in order to get the full experience.

“I feel like if you’re in the audience of music, having an open mind is very keen to enjoying yourself at these events,” Manila said.

Top photo: Herbert Manila, left, and Michael Hanson, who perform as Herb and Hanson, will be at the Panhandle Earth Day Celebration. (Submitted photo)

If you go…

WHAT: 10th annual Panhandle Earth Day Celebration
WHEN: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, April, 21
WHERE: Sam Michaels Park, 1516 Job Corps Road, Harpers Ferry, W.Va.
COST: Admission is free 

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