Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

UTSA student fiddles in band

Photos by Ethan Pham, The Paisano

The Strayhearts, a local acoustic Americana band, released their debut self-titled album. The band describe their sound as “Waylon Jennings meets Mumford & Sons meets Zac Brown Band.”

The Strayhearts are Riley Hemphill (fiddle, harmony vocals), Mark Monaco (vocals, guitar), Derek Badillo (lead guitar, harmony vocals), Matthew Kaden (electric and standup bass) and Shane Haberstroh (drums, percussion).

Haberstroh drums for The Strayhearts in the evenings, but currently works as an assistant professor with the UTSA department of counseling. Fiddlist Hemphill completed his associates in business and is now a communication senior at UTSA, with plans to graduate next fall. Originally from San Francisco, he packed up and moved to San Antonio with his girlfriend.

“My girlfriend and I were paying 2,000 bucks a month for an apartment,” said Hemphill.

Although Hemphill is the most recent addition to The Strayhearts, he started playing with them about two years ago.

“I came out here (from California),” said Hemphill. “I had only had a bit of savings at the time and I got a small stipend for school (but I needed money). I got on Craigslist and put up an ad for fiddle lessons.”

While posting the ad, Hemphill saw the band was looking for a fiddle player.

“I just went and rehearsed with them and played my first show with them the next day,” said Hemphill. “For the first six months I was just making things up as we went along, and it was hard, but we’ve got our groove down now.”

Citing Irish and Scottish fiddle as his musical inspirations, the fiddle player explained that he didn’t listen to country music until he moved to Texas.

The Strayhearts’ album includes a variety of songs including their single, “My Caroline.” This strong tune is held together with a beat that sounds like the heels of cowboy boots tapping on a wooden floor in a steady cadence. The lyrics are clean, plainspoken and down to earth.

Another key song, “Cowboy Up,” picks the strings of country roots with its devilish plucking, driving basslines and hard-hitting lyrics. The electric guitars and fiddle are reminiscent of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” and serenade a wicked melody.

The band’s sound is influenced by rock and roll. The band describes their sound as one in defiance of “stripped down acoustic” and is currently working on a second album tentatively scheduled to be released this coming fall.

Be sure to catch the band on stage and visit their website with their itinerary at

More to Discover
About the Contributor