The Cross-Eyed Possum is a Prescott-based Americana band led by identical twin brothers. The band’s members are Jason Howard on upright bass and lead vocals, Jonah Howard on guitar and backing vocals, and Keenan Hammack on mandolin and backing vocals. The group recently won first place in the 2022 Pickin’ In The Pines Band Contest. They perform mostly original music, written by the Howard brothers, inspired by a mix of the genres of music they grew up with and grounded in their Jazz and Classical university experiences.

Jonah spoke with Across the Street staff about the band and their recent award. The following interview was edited for length and clarity.

What can you tell me about the award that your band recently won?

It was an acoustic folk and bluegrass festival. So, kind of just a whole big mash-up of acoustic, artsy music, mostly bluegrass. There’s like some old-time stuff mixed in there that everybody’s pretty passionate about. I’d never performed in it before, but my brother has been performing in it for a couple of years with a band called Sugar in the Mint.

In terms of the award, it was a band competition. So basically, I think it’s ten bands competing in the first round and then they picked the top three out of those. Then they do a final round on the big stage at the Pepsi Amphitheater, which is just a really fun thing to be a part of.

How did this band get started?

We had been doing musicy things, if that’s a word, since middle school. We got a guitar for Christmas, you know, as many kids do. My brother wanted one and then I kind of took it from him. He moved over to Bass. It was kind of interesting, at least from my perspective. There was a guitar and then kind of a drum set, like little pieces to a drum set. He gravitated towards that, it seemed. So that was kind of a natural, I can come in and do this job and he could do that job, and went from there. We weren’t really serious about it.

In middle school, we started playing in the band and orchestra programs in PUSD. I was doing cello and orchestra. He was doing trumpet and band, but then we found out there was Jazz band and I don’t know, I really like guitar because of the whole rock ‘n’ roll thing and there was an opportunity to do that there. So that’s kind of when we started getting serious about it. I made some friends try to do a band of our own which actually had the same name, Cross-Eyed Possum. Then, you know, life happens, friends grow apart, people go to different schools and stuff. The thing that kind of stayed true was me and Jason doing the music together.

What do you like about working with your twin brother?

We understand each other pretty easily because we’ve known each other our whole lives. Being an identical twin, you have like a lot of the same experiences for the formative years of your life. So, you can kind of relate on that very basic level, you know, whereas you might not have that with other people who grow up with different experiences. It’s really easy to like find out what each other wants and appeal to each other’s musical sense because we have a lot of the same tastes and stuff. So that part’s really cool.

For more information about The Cross-Eyed Possum band, visit www.crosseyedpossumband.com.

Jesse Bertel is a reporter/videographer for the Prescott News Network. Follow him on Twitter @ JesseBertel, email him at jbertel@prescottaz.com, or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2043.

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