On a fateful afternoon in the summer of '05, four strapping lads, each from different walks of life, found themselves on the same "pickin' porch" in Ballston Spa, New York. They gathered there to breathe life into a musical vision...a trademark sound that would be unmistakably theirs...a worthy addition to any music festival seeking diversity in their lineup. This catchy, new crossover sound would celebrate the unlikely marriage of pop and bluegrass. They struck a chord... Happy Balky and the Good Livin' was born...but their leader had yet to arrive.
Pooling the vocal talents of his internationally known sister, Brittny, with his own knack for eclectic songwriting, Berklee College of Music graduate/Happy Balky front-man, Zac Kissinger, has set out to build an audience for the budding cross-genre known as "Mountain-Pop." He brings to Balky a tasteful blend of rootsy acoustic guitar chops and infectious melodic hooks. With songs ranging from absurd tall-tales to heartfelt confessions of longing, Zac covers a lot of ground lyrically, and aims to keep his listeners guessing.
Happy Balky's signature "twang" is brought to you courtesy of the quick-fingered John Mysliwiec. Having gigged as a lead guitarist in numerous metal bands, John brings an unexpected edge to both the band and the claw-hammer banjo. Specializing in harmonica and mandolin is the diversely talented Chris Ronk, who's been studying classical piano since age three. He finds a melodic in his classical roots, while providing mandolin lines that are as intricate as they are essential to each song. Rounding out the bands sound is Nikolaas Strock on bass guitar. Fresh off his world travels, Nick has returned home with an insatiable desire to redefine the low end. His jazz background is the cherry on top of this backwoods string band's unique sound.
Brittny Kissinger might be the newest and smallest of the bunch, but she's been performing professionally since 1996 when her talent was recognized by Broadway director Martin Charnin. NY's Capital District was awed by Britt's sudden rise to fame when she was cast in the leading role of Annie performing with stars Nell Carter, John Schuck, and then Sally Struthers both on the Broadway stage and in the subsequent national tour. During that time she performed on national television shows such as The Tony Awards, The Today Show, Rosie O’Donnell, and CBS This Morning. Even now Brittny continues to be a source of interest. Since her return home she has been visited by both a Japanese film crew and People magazine. She performed for over 20,000 people at 107.7 WGNA's Countryfest 2003, the largest country music event in the Northeast. In 2005, her progressive folk project, Tentacles Heavenward, garnered the attention of Fox News Channel culminating in an interview in her brother's recording studio. Most recently, was her decision in 2008 to join forces with the boys of Balky. Dead accurate male/female harmonies immediately brought their sound to a new level, and her first recording with the band caught the attention of A&R reps from two major labels.
At a live Happy Balky show, one can expect a healthy balance of angst and wit brought across with a refreshing sense of youthful urgency and raw stage energy. Their strain of "Mountain-Pop" demonstrates a seamless fusion of the bluegrass and acoustic-pop genres, and while pleasantly unpredictable, is undeniably catchy. Ambitious fans and reviewers have compared Happy Balky to popular acts such as Fleetwood Mac, Nickel Creek, Barenaked Ladies, and Old Crow Medicine Show...most say they've heard nothing quite like it. Having witnessed the rise of pop-country crossover and the ever increasing popularity of acoustic music in general, Happy Balky's members believe that "Mountain-Pop" has its place in the music industry...simply put, its bluegrass for the masses.