The Toughcats: '043' The Toughcats formed to raise money for a local scholarship fund in their hometown of North Haven, a small island off the coast of Maine. The trio uses harmonies, uke, banjo, mandolin, suitcase and percussion for their own blend of folk, rock, ragtime and bluegrass.
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The Toughcats: '043'

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The Toughcats: '043'

The Toughcats: '043'

The Toughcats: '043'

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/6276619/6277021" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

The Toughcats: from left, Joe Nelson, Jake Greenlaw and Colin Gulley hide caption

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The Toughcats: from left, Joe Nelson, Jake Greenlaw and Colin Gulley

From the small island of North Haven off the coast of Maine, The Toughcats formed to raise money for a local scholarship fund. This trio uses vocal harmonies, uke, banjo, mandolin, suitcase and percussion to blend a mix of folk, rock, ragtime and bluegrass into their music. The track "043," off the 2006 album Piñata, features their brand of thumping percussion and energetic strings.

The Toughcats self-recorded Pinata at a local community center. After hearing a recording of The Toughcats posted on the Web, Kramer -- former Butthole Surfers bassist, past producer for Sonic Youth and Urge Overkill and owner of the label Second-Shimmy-- offered to master the album. The Toughcats accepted the offer. The trio showcases Jake Greenlaw on suitcase, percussion and vocals; Colin Gulley on banjo, mandolin and vocals; and Joe Nelson on guitar and lead vocals.

Along with making music, The Toughcats spend time in lobster fishing, carpentry, emergency medicine and other jobs. They have played live film scores for Bird Dog Productions and written music for Cecily Pingree's documentary film about designer Angela Adams. The Toughcats mix acting and movies into live performances, trying to always keep the audience on their toes.