Singer-songwriter Hugh Robert Masterson grew up in Butternut, Wisconsin - a quaint but fading small town with decrepit mills, dirt roads, farms, beat down bars, and a population of 300. “It’s the kind of place where the silence is deafening and the stars are so bright you can feel nothing but humbled,” says Masterson. His band Hugh Bob and The Hustle and their masterful self-titled debut album brings to life this slice of classic Americana with ruggedly poetic lyrics and sweetly winsome roots rock.
Masterson’s blend of hard luck stories and backwoods whimsy with crisp twang, high lonesome harmonies, and heartland rock n’ roll is an aesthetic called “North Country”. It’s similar in spirit to country in its earnestness and its ties to American folk traditions, but details the plight of folks up North. Masterson has garnered favorable comparisons to Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, John Prine, Alan Jackson, and Dwight Yoakam. A.V. Club Milwaukee praises his debut as: “a warm, affectionate collection of straight-up AM country gold.” Rocksposure gushes “Hugh Bob never strikes an inauthentic note.” The Nashville Scene says: “We can’t help but be naturally suspicious of outlanders appropriating traditionally Southern music, but Milwaukee’s Hugh Bob avoided the pitfalls of the derivative Mumford & Sons bro-grass that has been invading our country by being charmingly sincere.”