MILLHEIM — “We don’t do anything that is heartbreaking, we are not swashbuckling. We wouldn’t know how to swash a buckle if it was right in front of us. We would swing from rafters, if that was an option. We’re not good at playing requests, except for those in the know who know what we know.”
And so begins the descent into the mind of Kai Schafft, ringleader for the somewhat flighty band Chicken Tractor Deluxe.
Intense, unique, puzzling and totally unexpected is a mere sampling of the terms one would use to describe this band, which, according to Schafft, who provides guitar, banjo and vocals, isn’t always like a band.
“The band is more like a herd of cats than an anarchic collective, although it’s a little of both. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I am the band’s leader. I would describe myself as the lead director of traffic for a collective effort that has few or no rules of the road.”
Tonight these musical misfits will flock to Millheim for a hootenanny of a show that combines down home music with a dash of pure showmanship and a strong quirky undertone.
Calling the hills of Penns Valley its home base, Chicken Tractor Deluxe has become known for its homespun brand of music that’s as American as apple pie, beer and maybe even a fried pork chop if the mood and the venue fancies them.
“We play Americana, mostly American rural and vernacular music, and we like playing fast, loose and loud,” said Shafft, an assistant professor at Penn State during the day and music maker at night.
Rockabilly often plays a role in the band’s musical mash up, ditto for backwoods country with a strong kick of rock and roll that creeps into their music to create a sound as complex and quirky as the band itself.