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Exclusive: Gold Rush’s Rick Ness talks .357 String Band, doesn’t shut door on a possible reunion

Rick Ness is a musician on hiatus these days, but that doesn't mean his music days are over. Pic credit: Discovery
Rick Ness is a musician on hiatus these days, but that doesn’t mean his music days are over. Pic credit: Discovery

Gold Rush’s latest miner Rick Ness is a breakout favorite among viewers. His affable nature and close relationship with miner Parker Schnabel, who he used to work for, have endeared him to a large group of Gold Rush fans who appreciate his sense of humor.

It even wins him spots on the spinoff series Parker’s Trail that puts Schnabel and his core go-to group in exotic locales to mine on the fly. The one coming up is in Papua, New Guinea.

While Ness may have a strong aversion to sleeves, he still has a strong love for music and up until a few years ago toured in his own band, .357 String Band.

Who was in the band?

Ness playing his bass in concert on tour. Pic credit: Rick Ness
Ness playing his bass in concert on tour. Pic credit: Rick Ness

Members included Derek Dunn on guitar and vocals, Joseph Huber on banjo, fiddle and vocals, Jayke Orvis on Mandolin and vocals, Billy Cook on mandolin, Dobro, guitar and vocals and lastly Ness, who rocked a mean upright bass.

But fans want to know if this Wisconsin kid will pick up his instrument and play in public any time soon.  Ness was coy about revealing any plans to regroup.

When did they play and where did they tour?

The band toured Europe and across a large part of the western USA. Pic credit: Rick Ness
The band toured Europe and across a large part of the western USA. Pic credit: Rick Ness

Wisconsin-based .357 String Band, which began in 2004, epitomizes his spirit. They played the west coast heavily and the Midwest and even went as far as Serbia, playing in Europe too in 10 different countries.  The band officially wrapped in 2011.

What kind of music did .357 String Band play?

One of Ness's favorite shots, shows the style he imparted while on stage. Pic credit: Rick Ness
One of Ness’s favorite shots shows the style he imparted while on stage. Pic credit: Rick Ness

According to their bio, they ventured into the “dark roots of Americana” which included “the fatalistic murder ballads, sneering Outlaw Country and unforgiving gospel.” They dubbed their sound, “streetgrass.”

.357 String Band have previously performed stage with the Old Crow Medicine Show and The Hackensaw Boys, Hank Williams III and Wayne Hancock plus Blues bands like Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band and the Black Diamond Heavies.

They even played with punk bands such as ANTiSEEN and Exploited along with eclectic groups like The Avett Brothers, Wovenhand and Th’ Legendary Shack* Shakers.

Any LPs released?

The .357 String Band has released three albums.

In 2006, they released Ghost Town featuring Lonesome Wyatt from Those Poor Bastards, Rebecca Manthe from the Tossers, as well as co-production from JD Wilkes of Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers.

In 2008 the band dropped Fire & Hail with Andy Gibson of Hank III’s Damn Band, and performances by Donnie Herron of BR549. In 2010, their last LP was Lightning From The North, also with a performance by Andy Gibson.

Rick Ness talks about the band

Ness's hairstyle reflects the rockabilly outlaw punk influences that the band captured in their sound and style. Pic credit: Rick Ness
Ness’s hairstyle reflects the rockabilly outlaw punk influences that the band captured in their sound and style. Pic credit: Rick Ness

Monsters and Critics: When and how did the band come together?

Rick Ness: I must have been 22 or 23 years old. I went to a concert to see a different band. But this other band was opening up. Their bass was terrible…I mean absolutely awful.

So I approached them after the show. And asked them to give me a shot. And that’s how I ended up in the band. That was around 2003.

M&C: When did you leave the band?

Ness: I stopped being in the band, about a month before Season 3 of Gold Rush.

M&C: A funny story to share?

Ness: The only [funny] thing that I can think of, is that ironically, I stopped playing music because I wanted to stay at home.

I really felt like I needed to be home more often. But then, I decided to start up gold mining, which obviously meant I wouldn’t be home as much after all!

Make sure to watch Rick on Gold Rush in his inaugural season as a miner on his own, and keep posted for updates if .357 String Band has any new dates to announce.

Gold Rush airs on Fridays 9/8c on Discovery.


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