The Cupholders are a Seattle supergroup comprised of Bart Cameron (The Foghorns, Proud Wonderful Me), Casey Ruff (Casey Ruff & The Mayors of Ballard, The Foghorns) & Sam Russell (Doug Hood, Sam Russell & The Harborrats). Focusing on a stylistic overlap of classic rock, outlaw country and vintage soul, The Cupholders play raucous rock n’ roll in the tradition of multi-singer bands Drive-By Truckers, The Raconteurs, Badfinger and Uncle Tupelo while shooting for the grandeur and comradery of supergroups The Highwaymen & The Travelling Wilburys.
In the 2019, the band began an ongoing series of EPs named after Ballard Avenue waterholes in Seattle where the band cut their teeth playing with individual projects and eventually together. The Tractor EP was released in January 2019 to widespread local acclaim and airplay on KEXP & KSER, followed by The Conor Byrne EP in April. The series will continue in 2020 with The Hattie’s Hat EP in April and conclude with The Sunset EP in August, after which The Cupholders will begin recording their first full-length album.
In the meantime, the band is releasing "The Cupholders Present….The Wisconsin Polka!" EP on January 18, 2020. The EP will highlight the origins of the band and the community they emerged from by presenting 5 unique versions of the same song, Bart Cameron’s epic “Wisconsin Polka.” With a version each by Bart’s band The Foghorns, Casey accompanied by Joy Mills, Sam’s band Sam Russell & The Harborrats, friend and honorary Cupholder Jon Rooney’s band Virgin of the Birds and an all-star version featuring the combined Cupholders, the EP shows how one great song can be passed around within one music scene to produce wildly different yet faithful-to-the-spirit interpretations.
The EP’s origins lie in Sam first hearing Bart’s song back in 2014 and deciding to cover it immediately, partially due to Bart and Sam sharing the cheese state as their place of birth (and their hometowns being directly next to each other). Sam slowed the song down form polka time into a slow waltz to make for a much more sentimental rendering than the original. As both Sam and Bart played the song out over the next few years, their friend and sometimes collaborator Jon Rooney of Virgin of the Birds devised his own take using elements of both Bart and Sam’s versions and drastically recasting the song in a 4/4 soul-groove.
When Bart, Sam & Casey decided to form The Cupholders in 2018, “Wisconsin Polka” was an obvious song to play live and a new arrangement was conceived as a duet between Bart and Sam that was quickly recorded. Once it was realized all the different versions could be put together for an entertainingly and highly distinct EP, Casey recorded his stripped-down country-shuffle version as a duet with Joy Mills especially to complete the EP.
The Cupholders hope the EP will further bring to public consciousness the songwriting genius of Bart Cameron and elevate “Wisconsin Polka” into its rightful status as modern holiday/winter standard. The release show for the EP will be held at The Tractor Tavern on January 18, 2020 with support from Drunken Prayer and a Super Secret Awesome Headliner to be announced shortly! The Cupholders Present….The Wisconsin Polka! EP can be pre-ordered on Bandcamp with Sam’s version of the song available for immediate streaming and download.