- Joshua Curry
- Unknown Hinson has "spent 30 years in prison for three counts of murder"
There's a lot that's unknown when it comes to the performer known as Unknown Hinson. City Paper tried to track down the mysterious pistol-brandishing, mutton-chopped, self-proclaimed "King of Country-Western Troubadours" ahead of his show at the Pour House this weekend, but to no avail.
"He's pretty elusive," admits Matthew Mentele, an agent at Atomic Music Group, which represents the musician, comedian, and actor whose real name is Stuart Daniel Baker. Mentele would offer no further insight, instead simply offering an email stating "I'm sorry but I can't. As an agent I just don't have the authority to do that." Unknown Hinson himself did not respond to our attempts to reach him personally.
Unknown Hinson's Facebook page has more than 18,000 followers. But with the exception of a couple posts promoting a 2018 New Year's Eve show in New York and a 2018 Halloween show at the Grey Eagle in Asheville, there hasn't been activity on the page since 2012. The About section describes him as a "400-year-old hillbilly vampire playing magical searing guitar riffs and funny as hell lyrics. Tight as a tick band with perfect pitch."
This is the exact kind of mix of fact and fiction that surrounds Unknown Hinson, the myth and the man. And even though in all of his press photos, he appears to have prolonged canines like a creature of the night, it seems unlikely that he's actually a 400-year-old blood sucker — but who knows?
What we do know is there is truth in that he is indeed quite capable of "searing guitar rifts." Alex Harris, the owner of the Charleston Pour House, where Unknown Hinson has played more than a half dozen times, simply says "He rips," when asked about his guitar skills.
What's also true about his Facebook description is his ability to write and recite "funny as hell lyrics." Take, for example, the lyrics from "Polly Urethane," a love song about his affection for a blow-up sex doll off of his 2004 album The Future is Unknown. "I'm glad I chose to date you/ It didn't take long to inflate you" and "You're soft and yet resilient/ Your colors are so brilliant/ It says here you're also waterproof."
The bio section on his website doesn't shed a whole lot more light on the reality of who Unknown Hinson really is: "Unknown Hinson plays guitar in a style incendiary enough to have Satan himself reaching for the antiperspirant. But don't dismiss him as a novelty act. He's one hell of a talent and has the music to prove it!"
We're not sure if the part about Satan reaching for antiperspirant is factual, but there is a lot of truth about Unknown Hinson being one hell of a talent who should not be dismissed as a novelty act. The man can truly play the guitar. Enough so that he's sponsored by both Gibson and Fender, as well Reverend Guitars. He also won the Ameripolitan Music Award for "Best Male Outlaw Artist" in 2014. An award created to acknowledge artists whose work does not readily conform to the tastes of today's "country" or other music genres and organizations.
There's also a legend out there that before landing on the public stage, he spent 30 years in prison for three counts of murder, 19 paternity suits, vampirism, and random grave-robbing offenses. Again, these seem to be more folklore than fact, but what is true is that before the legend of Unknown Hinson had grown to what it is today, he was a character created by Baker for a local public-access program named The Wild Wild South, which began airing in 1993. After the death of co-star Don Swan two years later, Baker created The Unknown Hinson Show, and the legend continue to grow. Once that series ended, Baker continued performing live as Unknown Hinson and released several albums.
The legend of Unknown Hinson continues to grow. Over the last decade he has reached a whole new audience as the voice Early Cuyler, the main character from the animated Adult Swim series Squidbillies, which begins its 12th season in August. Interestingly, it's Unknown Hinson, not Baker, who is credited as the voice of trucker hat-wearing cephalopod. These days it's hard to know where Stuart Daniel Baker ends and Unknown Hinson begins. It's also getting harder to know what is fact and what is fiction when it comes to mystery man's true backstory. But one thing is for sure, a live Unknown Hinson show is going to be packed full of laughs and blazing guitar work, from the traditional opening gunshot, to the last note.