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Van Driver is what happens when rock musicians unplug their guitars to keep from waking the children.
Like a sweet, slobbery mutt, the four-piece acoustic band from Richmond, Virginia, blends indie rock, folk, country, pop and bluegrass sounds to produce a brand of music that defies simple characterization. Van Driver believes in original music built on simple chords, layered string parts and harmonies. It also embraces nostalgic, odd-ball covers to keep things interesting.
Van Driver came together in 2001 but was years in the making. Three of its four members have been part of Richmond’s music scene since the 1980s. The other is a transplant, but you’d never know it.
The band released its debut record “My Own Yard” in early 2009. Produced and recorded by the band in a barn studio on the rural western fringe of Richmond, “My Own Yard” features 14 original songs that were written over the course of 20 years. Van Driver wanted the record to be true to its performances, so studio gimmickry was limited. A follow-up is planned for 2011.
The lyrics of Van Driver’s songs don’t always make literal sense, but they’re rooted in families, relationships and Virginia. The themes often come in a wash of images.
The band is Lee Bowles on violin, Jeff Dowd on bass, Mark Gormus on mandolin and vocals, and Will Jones on guitar and vocals.