The Lone Bellow

The Haw River Ballroom Presents

The Lone Bellow

The Wild Reeds

Thu, November 9, 2017

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Haw River Ballroom

Saxapahaw, NC

$20.00 - $79.00

The Lone Bellow
The Lone Bellow
Zach Williams, the Lone Bellow's lead singer and principal songwriter, can pinpoint just about exactly when the Brooklyn-based group serendipitously willed itself into being. It was around 9 a.m. one morning in 2010, at Dizzy's Diner in Park Slope, Brooklyn, where the Lone Bellows guitarist and Williams' old friend Brian Elmquist was working a shift. Williams, up to then performing as a solo artist, needed a place to try out some new songs; for a scuffling artist, the diner was as good as any rehearsal space. He asked fellow singer Kanene Pipkin, just returned to New York City from living in Beijing, to meet them at the diner and the trio did more than merely jam. With the beginnings of a repertoire and an already strong communal spirit, that fateful morning they became the Lone Bellow. As Williams recalls, "Three songs in I realized I should quit what I'm doing and just make music with these people."

And that's what he did. The trio's self-titled debut disc is exuberant in its playing, welcoming in its attitude. Though the lyrics have a melancholic undercurrent, the tracks are more often rave-ups than ruminations, with swelling three-part harmonies and rousing group-sung choruses, especially on the electric guitar-driven "The One You Should've Let Go" and "Green Eyes and A Heart of Gold," a we-will-survive anthem that could be about a family or a band. Indeed, there is a strong familial feel to The Lone Bellow, a recurring theme of inclusiveness.

That sentiment lies at the heart of the album and Williams' own career to date. The native Georgian first came to songwriting via near tragedy. While still living down south, Williams' young wife was catastrophically injured in a horseback riding accident. Physicians initially told Williams that, at best, his wife would leave the hospital a paraplegic. But doctors at the pioneering Shepard Center in Atlanta thought otherwise and after months of rehab there she ultimately regained the ability to walk. Throughout the ordeal, Williams had been scribbling his thoughts into a journal; good friend Caleb Clardy, co-writer of "Teach Me To Know," suggested he turn his writing into songs. The couple's friends had rallied around them, practically living in the hospital waiting room with Williams, organically becoming the support group he needed. Williams admits, "That was the first time I really experienced somebody trying their best to carry someone else's burden. It was very moving to me. I was going to classes on how to bathe and feed my wife, and I was trying to process all the fear and anger and the numbness. I started reading my friends these journal entries. I was writing in a kind of rhyming form because it helped to keep my mind focused. Caleb said, these are songs, man, you need to learn how to play the guitar and sing at he same time."

Having experienced something close to a miracle, a revitalized Williams and his wife decided to head to New York City and pursue their creative paths in earnest. Several of their friends, equally motivated, chose to follow, and they reformed a tightly knit community in Brooklyn, where everyone settled Williams initially worked as a solo artist, backed at times by a hired band. Two years ago, following a soul-searching trip he'd taken with his wife, Williams re-emerged with a stack of deeply personal songs -- tender but frank tales of romantic rupture and hard-fought redemption -- rooted in the country, folk and gospel of his Southern youth, and that's the material he brought to the diner.
Along with the core group of Williams, Pipkin, and fellow Georgian Elmquist, the Lone Bellow's recording and touring ensemble now includes Ben Mars on bass, Brian Murphy on keyboards, Matt Knapp on lap steel and electric guitar, Jason Pipkin on banjo and mandolin, and Brian Griffin on drums. After a warm-up gig at Brooklyn's Roots Café, Williams got a call from The Civil Wars, the Grammy Award Winning duo that he'd befriended while they were playing at the Lower East Side's Rockwood Music Hall. They asked if he and his new cohorts would open for them in Philadelphia: "We rehearsed for three days straight to try and get our act together and went to Philly and played our first real show as a group. It was so life giving, everything that everyone was playing had the overarching values of honesty, friendship and vulnerability, I felt like we really connected with this group of people in Philadelphia who'd never heard of us before."

Willams met with Civil Wars producer Charlie Peacock when the Lone Bellow played the Bowery Ballroom and took him to the Rockwood, the modest but well-regarded two-room venue that Williams had long considered his musical home: "When Charlie came up, I said, let's walk around the block. I want to show you the venue. The owner, Ken Rockwood, was there and they just hit it off. Charlie was walking around, snapping his fingers close to walls, looking at the glass windows in front of the large room, and he said, 'You should make your record here'. Ken gave us the room for three days and three nights. We lived there. Our eight-piece band recorded twelve songs there and Charlie magically made them something worth listening to. I will never forget that experience."

Peacock captured the spirit and the sound of these individuals, both at their most confident and their most vulnerable. Their recording of "Teach Me To Know," an infectious folk/gospel sing-along, was the by-product of some spontaneous late-night carousing, according to Williams: "We were ten songs in, I was exhausted, my vocals were completely gone, it was like one a.m and it started pouring down rain. Our piano player Brian ran outside and lied down on the sidewalk. So we all ran outside. Two of the band members started dancing in the rain and the rest of us started running around Allen Street with our shirts off. It was a beautiful moment. And while we were out there being dumb, Charlie set up the mics completely differently. When we came back inside, soaking wet from the rain, he said, we're recording 'Teach Me to Know' right now. And we laid it down. And that was the way it was making this record. It was all about capturing moments. We didn't play to a click; we were just in it. It was absolutely wonderful. I felt like the city just soaked through the windows into the recording."

Afterwards, Williams, Kanene Pipkin and Elmquist joined Peacock down in Nashville for overdubs and fixes with some additional players at his studio, the Art House – an abandoned old church he had retrofitted on a small piece of land – and that location proved to be as well-suited to the band's sensibility as the Rockwood. The results of their efforts, the Lone Bellow's debut, are earnest, inspiring and fun. Everyone listening – and undoubtedly singing and stomping along – will surely feel like part of the family too.
The Wild Reeds
The Wild Reeds
The Wild Reeds
The Wild Reeds’ sound is highlighted by the interweaving vocal harmonies of three phenomenally talented
front-women - Kinsey Lee, Sharon Silva and Mackenzie Howe - who swap lead vocal duties and shuffle
between an array of acoustic and electric instruments throughout the set. They are backed by a rhythm
section of Nick Jones (drums) and Nick Phakpiseth (bass).
Each with their own style, The Wild Reeds' three songwriters make music that is dynamic and
unpredictable. They write lyrics and melodies with the thoughtfulness of seasoned folk artists, and perform
with the reckless enthusiasm of a young punk band in a garage. Warm acoustic songs and harmonium
pump organ seamlessly give way to fuzzed-out shredding and guitar distortion.
With the upcoming release of 'The World We Built' on April 7, the Los Angeles-based quintet continues a
national breakthrough that has been rapidly growing since the release of their EP ‘Best Wishes’ this
summer. NPR Music critic Bob Boilen championed the band, saying “great singers aren’t easy to come by,
so finding three in one band is something special." The New York Times praised their live show, saying “the
communal experience was amazing,” while KCRW (Los Angeles) called them “top-notch vocalists."
The first single from the new album, "Only Songs," is catching the attention of radio programmers around
the country, like John Richards of KEXP (Seattle), who after listening to the track declared, "we just decided
this is the best song ever."
"Only Songs” was written by Howe, and highlights her rock-centric approach, inspired by the '60s and '70s
rock songs her mother raised her on. "It's about the feeling that music gives you," she told NPR in an
interview. "There's a freedom in music found nowhere else and it doesn't discriminate, it's in the garage
and the cathedral."
Lee penned the second song on the album, "Fall To Sleep," a lament to her own mental health under the
strains of both a nine-to-five job and the extremes of a touring musician's life. True to her roots in folk
music, it begins on a soft note, as a dreamy acoustic ballad, before taking a slightly darker turn, breaking
into distorted guitar parts and a Pixies-esque chorus.
Silva's contemplative, complex lyrical approach is best represented on the anthemic standout track
"Capable." When asked to describe her songwriting style, she explains, "lately, my songs have been like
stories with high highs and low lows - sort of like yelling at someone and then whispering an apology."
Despite their distinct viewpoints, each songwriter complements the next, with each song building on the
anticipation created by the last. "What brings us together is the three part vocal harmony," says Howe.
"When we're all singing together, it really becomes one unique voice."
The band takes a humble approach to their recent success. "I think that when you write earnestly and
honestly, people will relate," says Silva. "But there are lots of bands who do that and don't receive any
attention, so I think any success we've had must just be pure luck."
When watching them perform live, it quickly becomes obvious that luck has nothing to do with it. Each of
The Wild Reeds is more than talented enough to front their own band, but when all three are singing at
once in harmony, their music reaches its emotional apex.
"I don't think that we have figured out how to detach from our emotions yet. We take it all on stage. The
voice is such a personal and vulnerable instrument," says Lee. "We aren't as concerned with sounding
'pretty' as we are with sounding real. Everything we do is very raw and I think that's why people tend to
find comradery in our lyrics."
Recreating that feeling in a studio environment is an ambitious task. Recorded by producer Peter Katis (The
National, Interpol, Local Natives) at Tarquin Studios in Connecticut, 'The World We Built' captures it
perfectly, and elevates their sound to a whole new level.
"Our sound has evolved as we have evolved as people. We've grown to love a lot of records on the road,
sharing music with each other during the hours we spend in the van, which has broadened and united our
taste," says Howe. "We've also grown as musicians and it's allowed us to explore new instruments and
sounds. This new record is a much more accurate depiction of what we sound like live. It's got more punch
and depth."
Along with musical growth, the content of their songwriting has changed with the band's life experiences
since they started out. "The songs on the album were written over the last three years, and it's apparent
that we are more empowered now as women," says Howe. "The title 'The World We Built' refers to the
social constructs we've had to face during the last three years touring as a female fronted band. A lot of
these songs illustrate our disillusionment with the myths we've been taught in a patriarchal society, and
how we've experienced them in different aspects of our lives - love, success, self esteem, etc."
"As we got older and started to witness the world from a different perspective, we started to write about
human issues in a different light," explains Lee. "It's so easy to write about love when you're young
because that's the only thing you have to worry about. Now we have a lot of other things in life to occupy
our thoughts and songwriting, like experiencing the struggle and exhaustion from following your dream,
coming of age, and doubt."
"Releasing music and touring the country have been amazing and eye-opening experiences," says Silva.
"I'm still majorly pumped and grateful that I get to play music for people every day."
That optimism resonates with audiences. When they perform live, their passion is infectious. They look like
artists living out their dream on stage - the kind of band you idolized as a kid, and as an adult, the kind of
band that reminds you why you loved music in the first place.
"Our live show has been how we've gained most of our fans. We've learned that people are just looking for
authenticity. If we're vulnerable, people feel it," says Howe. "We always want to put on a show that has
energy and leaves peoples feeling more hopeful than when they arrived."
'The World We Built' will be released April 7 via Dualtone Records, an Entertainment One company.
Venue Information:
Haw River Ballroom
1711 Saxapahaw-Bethlehem Church Road
Saxapahaw, NC, 27340
http://www.hawriverballroom.com/