David Hanners is a St. Paul-based songwriter-singer whose songs focus on the kind of rich storytelling you might expect from a former oilfield roughneck and short-order cook who also has a Pulitzer Prize. (Seriously.) His writing has been compared favorably with John Prine, the late Bill Morrissey and Steve Earle.
His first CD, Nothing Town, was released in 2004 on the Mercy Recordings label. It was named a Critic's Year-end Top Ten selection by the Minneapolis Star Tribune. His second CD, The Traveler's Burden, was released in December 2009. MinnPost.com said it was "like Townes Van Zandt" doing Nebraska." The online publication 'Round the Dial heaped praise on it, writing, "I can only imagine the spiritual power left behind onstage after he plays a fiery, to-the-bone set of these traveler's tales. Highly recommended." The Traveler's Burden has received airplay on some radio stations throughout the country and he was interviewed on MPR when it was released. Curiously, MPR's sister station, 89.3 The Current, has ignored the record, as has the station's "Local Current" stream, which ostensibly plays local and regional artists around the clock. Station officials have declined to say if the record has been banned because of its political overtones.
David has earned a number of songwriting honors. He won the Minnesota Folk Festival's "New Folk" 2000 songwriting competition, and placed second in the prestigious "One Week Live" songwriting competition at Beaner's Central in Duluth in 2006. He placed third in the Great River Folk Festival's 2010 songwriting competition and was a finalist the previous year. In 2011 and 2012, he was chosen as a finalist in the prestigious Big Top Chautauqua "North by Northwoods" (NXNW) singer/songwriter competition. (As of this writing, the 2012 finals have yet to be held.)
In early 2012, David joined with singer-songwriter Amy Brockman to form "Sorrow No More."
He was born in Casey, a town of 2,900 in East Central Illinois. The Midwest provides much of the fodder for David's songs. Casey is a farming community (soybeans and corn, mostly) but it is an area with a history of literature and music; a few miles to the east, James Jones wrote From Here to Eternity, and a few miles to the south is the hometown of folk legend Burl Ives. David also lived in Texas for 17 years, and that state also has provided him with subject matter and inspiration.
David has opened for national touring acts, including Tom Paxton, Bill Staines, Ellis Paul, Garnet Rogers and others.
His music has been featured onstage in Laura Lundgren-Smith's "Digging Up the Boys," a play set in the 1930s South about three coal miners trapped underground. The play was entered in the 2007 Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, a production of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Presently, Hanners performs as a solo acoustic act. In the past, he has been a part of the all-electric rock band The Ballet School Troublemakers. Other members of the band included guitarist/songwriter/vocalist Russ Brown, bassist Jackie Crosby and drummer Liz Anderson. He also put together a short-lived band called The OH LONESOME MEs, which included Anderson on drums, Kevin Kadidlo on guitar, Jennifer J. Holt on guitar, banjo and vocals, Ric Lee on violin and Sarita Woods on bass. He recorded a two-song EP with the bluegrass band Pocahontas County, released under the name The Messy Fergusons. He has, on occasion, backed up Brianna Lane on mandolin. In addition, he has performed in two noteworthy jug bands, Goober Sez Hey and The Moriah Go-Getters.
Solo: Nothingtown released by Mercy Recordings, 2004; Drunks Look After Drunks self-released, 2001
Bands: The Ballet School Troublemakers self-released, 2003; The Messy Fergusons Mercy Recordings, 2002
Compilations: One Week Live Beaner's Central Release, 2004; It's a House of Mercy Christmas Mercy Recordings, 2002