The Hope Social Club is a band whose beginnings originated in and around the small town of Girdwood, Alaska, a hippy ski haven just South of Anchorage. Melissa Mitchell and Spiff lived in the same building and although neither remembers the very first time they jammed, the town of Girdwood gave them plenty of opportunity to hear each other play. Quickly,they became more familiar with each others songs and with easygoing style and effortless harmonies it was a natural fit and a not so random partnership. The rest of the band met there over the last 15 years and sitting in on each others sets became the norm. Multi-instrumentalist Aaron Benolkin joined in anytime he wasn’t playing with his other projects, including The Whipsaws, and his smooth pedal steel and electric guitar added another layer of texture to Melissa and Spiff’s songs. Tim Haren, a rockin' local drummer and creator of Alaska’s own Lefty’s Cajons, along with Tony Restivo, bass player for the iconic Girdwood jam band The Photonz, rounded out the rhythm section.
In addition to being band mates, the Hope Social Club is comprised of dear friends, which is obvious when you watch them play together. They’ve shared good times and heartache, traveled together, volunteered and worked together, cried on each others shoulders; the bond is tangible and for good reason, they have grown to be one of Alaska’s favorite bands.
The music that this band makes is special; it’s infectious, and it’s hard to describe. It’s almost easier to say what they are not: they are not a rock band; they aren’t a hippy band; they aren’t blues specialists or classic rockers; they won’t play Wagon Wheel, so don’t even ask.
Original songs and harmonies are the cornerstone of HSC and although they are led by two acoustic guitars, the rest of the band adds plenty of oomph so that what started out as folk songs easily evolves into groove laced tunes that gets people on their feet. They’ve played everything from house concerts to the biggest and best venues Alaska has to offer and have gotten their feet wet on the East and West Coasts. Between them, they’ve opened for national acts such as Michael Franti, Wilco, Rayland Baxter, Trampled by Turtles, K.D. Lang, the Indigo Girls, and Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, just to name a few.
The individual members have all got a long history of composing the soundtrack to many an Alaskan evening. Whether it’s on the stage, or under the stars at a campfire; this band adds solid depth and credibility to the Alaskan music scene and their fiery brand of foot stomping, heart churning tunes, translates anywhere they go. This band delivers. You can see it on the faces of the folks that come to the shows. It’s more than just watching and listening to musicians play. It’s more than just being in the scene. It’s more than you usually get for the common cover charge. It’s special. It’s Alaskan. It’s the Hope Social Club.