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Since they formed in July 2009, Brian Bristow and Billy Holmes have shared a common purpose: to make acoustic based music that matters with no preconceived barriers and have fun doing it. Both veterans of the Athens and Atlanta music scenes, they felt a strong desire to go back to their roots and create something both new and fresh while paying homage to their influences.
The two friends were playing in various bands in Georgia when they met up in the North Carolina Mountains for some music and fun. After a weekend of playing acoustic guitars, mandolins, accordions and harmonicas, they had the basis for a new project and album. Shortly afterwards they went into the studio in Athens, GA as The Highlanders and began recording “Cullowhee Time”. Over the next 18 months they poured their heart and soul into writing, recording and producing 14 tracks of both original music and select covers with the help of some incredible friends in the area.
Drawing from their past experiences, Billy having played with the Vigilantes of Love, Love Tractor and countless studio sessions in the Athens area and Brian having played & toured with regional favorites, The Tastemakers, as well as other Atlanta area bands helped them to craft their unique sound and approach.
Some of the other musicians to join The Highlanders on this project include:
Randall Bramblett – Legendary singer-songwriter and accomplished musician who played in Sea Level in the mid ‘70s, then moved on to become a touring and studio session player with Traffic, Steve Winwood, Levon Helm, Widespread Panic and The Allman Brothers Band. Currently, Randall records and tours with his own band, The Randall Bramblett Band.
Peter Stroud – Guitarist/studio musician extraordinaire who played with Sheryl Crow, Shawn Mullins, Don Henley and currently working with Sarah McLachlan.
Travis Aaron McNabb – Drummer and percussionist who has played with Vigilantes of Love, Better Than Ezra and currently the full-time drummer for Grammy-award winning Sugarland.
Domingo S. Ortiz – Percussionist for the elite jam band Widespread Panic out of Athens, GA.
Andy Carlson – Two time Georgia State Champion Fiddler and 2000 Ohio Grand Champion fiddler. As a studio musician he has recorded with R.E.M., Nanci Griffith, Billy Bragg and the Cowboy Junkies.
Andrew Hyra – Former lead singer for the folk rock band, Billy Pilgrim. An Atlanta based duo consisting of Andrew and Sugarland’s Kristian Bush which released two albums for Atlantic Records in the mid ‘90s.
Other notable contributors include Athens-based singer/musicians Nathan Sheppard, Billy Bennett, Betsy Franck, Johnny Evans and Nathan Collins.
While Brian and Billy were co-producers of “Cullowhee Time”, they were also joined by legendary engineer John Keane to assist with the process. John has produced and engineered projects for R.E.M., Indigo Girls and Widespread Panic to name a few. In 2010, John was a Grammy nominee for Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical.
Finally they enlisted Rodney Mills to master the album. Rodney was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1996 after 40 years of producing, engineering and mastering over 50 gold & platinum records.
The end result was an amazing collection of 14 songs that made up “Cullowhee Time”. The album was released in May of 2011 and is now available on iTunes, Amazon MP3, Zune, eMusic, Rhapsody and other digital outlets worldwide.
Contact: Brian Bristow