Heading East: Grand Rapids Outlaw-Country Band The Bootstrap Boys Perform July 22 at Saline's Acoustic Routes Concert Series


The Bootstrap Boys include bassist Jonny Bruha, vocalist-songwriter Jake Stilson, drummer Jeff Knol, and guitarist Nick Alexander. The four men stand on an old wooden wagon during late fall.

The Bootstrap Boys share honest country stories on Hungry & Sober. Photo taken from the band's website.

The Bootstrap Boys are driving their outlaw-country anthems eastward to Saline later this month.

The Grand Rapids quartet plans to unpack rowdy tales from their five-album catalog during a July 22 Acoustic Routes show at Stony Lake Brewing Co.

The show serves as The Bootstrap Boys’ debut appearance at the decade-old Saline concert series. It’s also the only Washtenaw County stop on a current summer tour in support of their latest album, Hungry & Sober.

Throughout the album, vocalist-songwriter Jake Stilson (Big Jake Bootstrap), guitarist Nick Alexander (Nicky Bootstrap), bassist Jonny Bruha (Jonny “Bubba” Bootstrap), and drummer Jeff Knol (Jeff Bootstrap), share “cheerily nihilistic road tunes” and “sincere ruminations on family and queer identity” alongside hard-hitting, country-rock instrumentation.

“This album has more honest poetry to accompany the storytelling that’s always a part of my work,” notes Stilson on the band’s website, which credits Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Bob Wills among the band’s biggest influences. “I edited myself a lot less.”

The band’s latest single, “You Got That Right,” provides a nod and a wink at Stilson’s sexuality as he sings, “Well, it don’t matter if you do or you don’t / If you can or you can’t or you will or you won’t / I’m gonna do my thing until I die / I’m gonna do my thing until I die.

In June, The Bootstrap Boys released a black-and-white lyric video for “You Got That Right,” which features a dancing cowboy.

Another notable track from Hungry & Sober includes “City Livin’,” a respectable ditty that pays tribute to “the workers that do the jobs nobody else wants to do for frequently less than desirable wages,” writes Stilson via the band’s YouTube page.

The band also brings “City Livin’” to the country with a video that spotlights a live performance at the Fall Fling at the Mud Bog on Shagbark Farm in Caledonia, Michigan.

Other standout tracks include “Why Bother,” a contemplative story about dealing with one’s demons and the demons of those around them, and “Call My Bluff,” a classic rock-fueled reality check about life on the road. 

The Bootstrap Boys recorded the 10 tracks for Hungry & Sober with producer David Percefull at yellow DOG Studios in Wimberley, Texas, which is located about 40 miles south of Austin.

Lori Stratton is a library technician, writer for Pulp, and writer and editor of strattonsetlist.com.

The Bootstrap Boys perform July 22 at Stony Lake Brewing Co., 447 E. Michigan Ave in Saline, as part of the Acoustic Routes concert seriesFor show information and tickets, visit Stony Lake Brewing Co’s website.