It’s good to be back in the Carolinas after three weeks in the US and British Virgin Islands. We had a wonderful time this year, playing to full houses on four different islands. We visited good friends that we have we made down there over the past two years, and also saw quite a few familiar faces from the states. Though we played 18 out of the 21 nights we were in the Caribbean, we still managed to make time to play in the water and swing in hammocks on beautiful beaches. More pictures and video will be coming soon to facebook. We hope you will be able to join us in January of 2013 when we do it again!
Thanks to the folks in Hickory and Asheville, NC who welcomed us back to the Carolinas so warmly this past weekend. Thanks to Uncle Mountain for so excellently warming the crowd at the Asheville Music Hall. They have a great sound that reminds me of Wilco, and at times Modest Mouse. For the rest of this month and next, we’ll be touring from North Carolina to Key West and New Orleans. We’re excited to be playing some shows with one of our favorite bands this week. Join us in Raleigh and Charlotte this weekend for shows with Dangermuffin. It’s a lowcountry invasion!
Another friend of ours from the Charleston music scene is making waves on American Idol. You may know Elise Testone as the sultry female vocal on Sol Driven Train’s song “Watermelon.” (Nope, that’s not Ward). Now she’s bringing her soulful voice to Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez, Randy Jackson, and YOU, the idol watching public! You can watch a quick clip of her audition here. She’s made it to the final 42, and we know she’s gonna blow it up this week in Hollywood. Tune in this wednesday and thursday at 8pm EST on Fox.
Not only did Elise sing on “Watermelon,” but she’s on a song that will be on our upcoming album, Underdog. With 23 days left in our Kickstarter campaign, we are 70% to our funding goal. Thanks to everyone who has pledged, and shared the site with others. Remember, if we don’t reach our goal, we don’t get any of the money, and Underdog will remain unreleased. Help us let the dog out!
Thanks so much to all of you for continuing to support us and our art. We are truly blessed to live the life we do. Making music has been a part of our lives for as long as we remember, and we continue to cherish every day that we continue to make it. The road has been long, and there have been a few bumps along the way. A sense of common purpose and a sense of humor has guided us through the dark moments. Our longtime publicist, Tammy Brackett, and author Nick Zellinger have published a book titled “Another Nightmare Gig from Hell.” This book is a humorous collection of woeful road stories, and Sol Driven Train is featured in one story. I’ve ordered my copy from Amazon, and I can’t wait to read it! Check out nightmaregig.com to learn more, or submit your own nightmare gig story!
thanks for listening!
Happy New Year!
We had a blast ringing in 2012 at the Charleston Pour House over two nights. Thanks to Old You, JJ Burke and Co., Noodle McDoodle, the Pour House staff, and all the folks who came out and celebrated with us. When the clock struck midnight, the Pour House was filled with smiles, kisses, and balloons!
We’re excited to announce that we’ll be releasing a new album this spring titled, Underdog. We’ve launched a kickstater campaign to raise funds for the manufacture and promotion of the new release. Lots of exciting incentives are offered for folks who wish to partner with us on this release and help us continue to live the dream. Please visit the kickstarter website, watch the video, and make a pledge. Every little bit helps!
A more bittersweet announcement is that we are selling our old tour bus, “The Original.” This steadfast vehicle transported the band across the country, from the SC lowcountry to the Rocky Mountains, from San Diego to Key West, and from the sands of Big Sur to the mud of Bonnaroo. This piece of Sol Driven Train memorabilia could be yours! Check out the craigslist ad HERE
In other exciting news, the band received some national media coverage this month. We were featured in the december issue of Relix Magazine. A nice article and a picture of us posing with one of Wes’ homegrown watermelons was found in newstands across the county.
Next week we are embarking on our third annual Virgin Islands Tour. We’ll be in the Caribbean for three weeks, playing shows on St. Thomas, St. John, St. Croix, Tortola, and even on a sailboat (a Sol Driven Train first). It’s not too late to book a last minute get-a-way. Keep your eyes on our facebook page for pictures and updates.
Sol Driven Train
I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and that your holiday season is filled with joy. Sol Driven Train has a lot to be grateful for this year: a fantastic touring schedule, national radio play for our “Watermelon” EP, a new vehicle, and the ability to do what we love on a daily basis and call it a job. Thanks to you for continuing to make that possible for us!
After a little break for Thanksgiving, we’re excited to get back on the road for a tour of the deep south. We leave tomorrow morning for shows in Alabama, Louisiana, and Florida.
Upon returning home, we will enjoy some holiday time off before our two-night run at the Charleston Pour House, December 30th and 31st. We’re very excited to be ringing in the New Year with friends at one of our favorite venues. We’ll be joined by Old You on the 30th and James Justin Burke and Co. on the 31st. We haven’t had a chance to perform with Old You, but they put on a high energy, soulful show, and were recently recognized as Charleston’s Up and Coming Band of the Year. We have had the opportunity to play some shows with JJ Burke and Co. on tour this year, and their blend of americana and folk is a wonderful contrast to our brassy sound. Look for musical collaborations! After a late night of rock and roll, a jump in the Atlantic Ocean is a great way to start the new year. Russ and his girlfriend Jill will be freezing for a reason, raising money for the Special Olympics at the annual Sullivan’s Island Polar Bear Swim. Learn more and donate here: http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/jill-kwasny/jillandrussell
2012 should be a fun year, and it will start for us in the Virgin Islands! We’re playing shows in St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. John, and Tortola during the month of January. Book your tickets and come see us in paradise!
Music is one of those things that, no matter how magnificently written, arranged, performed and produced, will always be subject to abject interpretation. Which is why those who can master the fine art of establishing their chosen genre into the much-sought-after world of “crossover” essentially have achieved the Holy Grail of success.
So, it’s fair to say that Sol Driven Train has that puppy safely tucked away in their formidable cache of accomplishments.
The first track on this 5-track EP is the title track (in the tradtion, that as Todd Rundgren pointed out, of Motown),“Watermelon.” Beginning with a nice, easy groove nestled in a subtle funkiness – that gets you doing that involuntary little head-bob thing – it lets you know before you hear verse one, this is a song you’re gonna like. The austere, compact spectrum of instrumentation perfectly complements the very tasty vocals, as the tune begins a sojourn that culminates with a rap-scented changeup to close it out.
Track 2 is the impishly playful “Vampire.” I really like songs such as this one, beginning with a samba soaked bass line that has a hint of mariachi and old-world overtones of accordion tossed in for good measure. It’s all Sol Driven Train, but it does remind me – albeit 20 years removed – of Chapel Hill’s fabled Squirrel Nut Zippers’ “Hell,” only much better and without the annoying clutter of overproduction.
Track 3 explodes out of your speakers with a no-bonesabout-it, hardcore, old-skool, lead-snare drum steam-enginetrain cadence, and wrapped up in “if that ain’t country, I’ll kiss your grits” pickin’ … and approprately
enough, it’s entitled “Romp.” Music is all too often so deep and ethereal and depressing; this would be a textbook example of “antonym” to that affect.
Next to last on this neat little EP, “Consume” examines the fringe of paranoia in a tune that reminds one of Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention and The Tubes in their creative heydays. The neat trick to a well-written jam tune is losing the structure in the jam part; making it sound like it’s all thrown together on the fly. But it’s got some tasty fret burners laced in all the nifty syncopation. As with all the tracks on this CD, it’s just really well arranged and produced. The recurring thought while listening to this track (and, really, all of them) is, “These guys are from my state? Seriously? Chucktown and everything? Wow.”
And of course, to throw you completely off kilter, the final track “For Old Time’s Sake” immediately conjures up tradtional churchy blues and hymnal charts. Great simplicity wrapped in austere vocal harmonies that just sound so much bigger than they are, with a mixture of N’awlins tribute and Southern Baptist blues in a ballet of horns and piano riffs. A nice, slow, reflective ending to a really eclectic musical ride, perhaps it helps to be a native of the lowcountry, or the Palmetto State, or the Old South.
Or maybe it’s just great music. Yeah, that’s probably it.
And after all … it would explain all these black seeds and green rinds laying around my stereo in a pool of sticky, sweet musical refreshment.
There are a bunch of reasons it would make a great Christmas gift, too, kids. It’s good, it’s affordable, and it’s available. Wraps easily, mails perfectly. Brings smiles to the face and soothes the soul.
Brian M. Howle
We’re in the midst of our deep south fall tour, and I’m happy to report that all is well. We’ve travelled some long miles this past week, playing at three festivals in three days: The Albino Skunk Festival in Greer, SC, The High Country Music Festival in Boone, NC, and the Voice of the Wetlands Festival in Houma, LA. Thanks to all the folks that worked so hard to put these events together. We love to perform on outdoor stages, and we always meet new people and hear new music at festivals. The Voice of the Wetlands Festival was also an education for us about the devastating loss of wetlands that is occuring at a rapid pace in South Louisiana. During our two days off in Houma we got to get out in the bayou and witness the contrast between a healthy bayou and the flooded wasteland that is quickly inundating this precious environment. Ward, Wes, and Joel took a flight in a small plane over the wetlands, and it was a frightening glimpse at disappearing marshes and bayous. The channelized and leeved Mississippi River transports the sediment that used to nourish this wetland out into the Gulf of Mexico, while channels cut into the bayou for oil extraction and commercial shipping have allowed salt water intrusion into freshwater environments, destroying ecosystems that act as a buffer for hurricanes and tropical storms Additionally the removal of huge volumes of oil from beneath the Mississippi River delta is causing the entire region to subside. The end result is that vast areas that a few years ago were beautiful cypress swamps teeming with alligators, fish, and birds are now flooded wastelands, littered with the stumps of dead trees and little else. To learn more about this ongoing environmental disaster, and find out how to help, visit the Voice of the Wetlands website: www.voiceofthewetlands.org Or come to the festival next year in Houma and see for yourself!
What’s up Next?
We’ll be playing shows this weekend in Texas and Louisiana, finishing the weekend up in Conroe, TX at the Conroe Cajun Catfish Festival on sunday. Then we’l tour our way across the deep south with shows in Mississippi, Alabama, and Greenville, SC before returning home for the infamous Skinful Halloween Party. Then we turn south for a show in Miami before four nights on Key West at the Green Parrot during the annual Fantasy Fest, possibly the only party on the east coast that is wilder than Charleston’s Skinful Halloween. For the rest of the year we’ll be touring the southeast, look for us in Asheville, NC,
Savannah,GA, Wilmington, NC, Atlanta, GA, and more…. Just a reminder, we’ll be finishing up 2011 and welcoming 2012 with two nights at the Charleston Pour House. James Justin and Co. will be joining us on 12/31, and we’re excited to announce that Old You will be opening up the show on 12/30. A two night pass is only $25 in advance. Two day passes will not be sold at the door this year.
Happy summertime everyone!
Here are some of the exciting happenings we have lined up for the sunny-season:
Summer is in full swing and we’re doing our part to create some fun in the sun from southernmost Florida all the way to our home break at the Windjammer for our first festival AND releasing an EP celebrating our musical independence. All before August!
From casino to island bar to historic Savannah is the story of our blast-of-a-tour down through Florida this week as we get in the zone for summertime revelry. This is our last tour with organist Ross bogan for a while, so these shows shan’t be missed. Booooogaaaaan!
Are you in need of some new, independently produced, homegrown music from Sol Driven Train? If so, good news: As we celebrate our proud nation’s independence this July 4th, we will also be celebrating our own musical independence with the release of our Watermelon EP. This 5 song thick slice will be available for download on our website, or in hardcopy if you attend the celebration of freedom at the U.S. Whitewater Center in Charlotte, NC on our nation’s birthday. The Olympic boaters will lend us their training grounds for some great music from Anders Osborne, the New Familiars, and ourselves.
We proudly announce the first annual Solfest, our first festival endeavor, this summer at the legendary Windjammer on Isle of Palms. The event will be held July 29-30 with two nights of Sol Driven Train and two alternating stages all day Saturday, just steps from the beach! The lineup is killer and primarily local, with some out of town friends thrown in to sweeten the mix. There’ll be sandcastle building contests, a watermelon eating competition, and plenty of Firefly on ice to go with the beautiful atmosphere and great music. Please come support independent art and music with us at one of our oldest hangouts!
Greetings and Happy Spring!
We’ve been buzzing around the southern part of the country for the last month and a half. Three weeks of shows from Georgia to Texas was a good way to start off festival season. Click HERE to check out the tour video we made of some highlights of our time in Texas and Louisiana.
We’re very excited about our schedule over the next few weeks, as we’ll be playing lots of outdoor events and festivals, and then headed back down to Key West in June. In addition to the Friday’s on the Point concert series here in Charleston (May 20), Drumstrong (May 22) in Weddington, NC, and Smilefest in Pinnacle, NC (June 3-5), we’re happy to announce that we’ll be the Suprise Headliner at The White Squirrel Festival in Brevard, NC on May 28th.
We’ll be helping to raise money for a friend in need this at the Friday’s on the Point concert, May 20th at Patriot’s Point in Mt. Pleasant, SC. Please come prepared to make a donation to Lisha Frits’ heart-transplant fund, or click HERE to make a contribution on-line. Lisha is the wife of Kent Frits, owner of Art’s Bar and Grill, and a longtime friend and supporter of the band.
Jeff Hodges at Charleston Sound has been busily mixing songs from our productive recording sessions there in March. We recorded too many songs for one cd, so we’re splitting the material into two releases. The first will be The Watermelon EP, a 5-song collection coming in July. We will make a the EP available to our fans on our website on July 4th, 2011, a celebration of our nation’s independence as well as our band’s musical independence!
Thanks for reading this, and we hope to see you at a show soon!
After spending most of March in the studio recording our new album, it’s now time to get back in the O.G. and spread the love to the deep south. We will be leaving early tomorrow morning to kick off our Spring tour. The first stop will be in Auburn, Alabama for an afternoon interview on Wildman Steve Radio. Wildman has been spreading Sol Driven Train tunes across the airwaves since 2007 and we are excited to spend an afternoon with him. Check out the broadcast Wednesday April 6 at 4pm. www.wildmansteve.com
We officially begin the tour at The War Eagle Supper Club Wednesday night in Auburn, followed by shows in Daphne, AL, Gulfport, MS and Lake Charles, LA. Sunday we will rest up for a two night run in New Orleans. Monday April 11 the horn section aka Balls and Sax will be sitting in with Papa Grows Funk at The Maple Leaf. Tuesday night we will be playing at The Howlin Wolf in the Den. Dave Shaw of the New Orleans band The Revivalists will be opening the show. We played with them last December at The Blue Nile and look forward to sharing the stage again.
Then we are off to Texas for a run with blues legend and Louisiana guitarist Tab Benoit. After our inaugural Texas run, it’s time to head home with stops in Louisiana, Mississippi and finally finish off the tour at Do Da Jam.
Many of the stops on this tour are new to us so please ask your friends to come out and help spread the word.
Peace and TLC,
We are up for the “New Groove” band title at jambands.com.
Please take a moment and vote…”Thank you for your support.”
Happy almost-Spring, festy folks!
Warm weather is here and festival season is beginning. That being said, Suwannee Springfest is only one month out and we are running low on discount tickets. We have some great deals and are offering a chance to win a campsite concert. To enter, simply contact us via facebook or the email mentioned below.
We are very excited to be able to share this deal with you for such an event. I am personally jazzed about seeing the Avett Brothers again on such a great festival stage. The whole site is beautiful, complete with a perfectly lazy meandering river at one end of the property and a superb, live oak littered, natural amphitheater mainstage. Also superb is the lineup, jam packed Thursday afternoon through Sunday. Artists include: Avett Bros, David Grisman, the Motet, Larry Keel, Holy Ghost Tent Revival, the Traveling McCourys, the Galen Kipar Project, Acoustic Syndicate, the New Familiars and tons more. On top of all that, car camping is permitted; great for bringing the little ones.
If interested in purchasing, please contact us on facebook or email me at email@example.com. Here is a link to the Suwannee Springfest home page for schedule and lineup inquiries: www.suwanneespringfest.com .
Dangermuffin and Sol Driven Train in the mountains this weekend!!! We’re stoked to be playing with our friends Dangermuffin Thursday and Friday nights at Pisgah Brewing Co in Black Mountain, NC and Spring St Hall in Johnson City TN. We wore out our copy of Dangermuffin’s latest release in the Firefly RV last month bonin’ up on tunes and practicing our festy moves, so be ready for some band intermingling and superjams.
“what would we find there? who knows.” -Dangermuffin