Few people have heard of Waterville, Ohio. A rust-belt city of a few thousand comfortably settled against the Maumee River, it’s the kind of Americana often romanticized about as a place of unvarnished love, bitter outcomes, and hometown grit. The entire place feels like a dream—a sense found in the music of Waterville’s ascendant indie-folk trio, Oliver Hazard.
The story of Oliver Hazard is the digital age’s version of classic band mythmaking. One member of the band returned to Ohio after leading camping trips in California and decided to make an album with two of his childhood friends, a door-to-door salesman and a construction worker. They won a Facebook raffle to record a single song at a recording studio. Instead, they pitched playing their whole album straight through once, and so came their debut album 34 N River. They sent it to a friend who sent it to a friend, who sent it to The Fader, who called it a “folk-pop masterpiece.” The band was booked at Bonnaroo and Mountain Jam shortly thereafter.
34 N. River is named after the house that Oliver Hazard’s members share. The band has tended it as their “creative vacuum and cultural refuge”: inside are discarded mandolins, tambourines, a suitcase kick drum, and other odd instruments that charm the band’s music. At their essence, Oliver Hazard is indie-folk seemingly meant to be accidentally discovered—at a bar somewhere in the Midwest, sung by three earnest, harmonizing musicians, who make you turn your head and feel like not giving up just yet.