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Combining wide varieties of American pop and folk music into their own brass-kickin' roots rock sound, Sol Driven Train has carved out a unique musical identity. Their sound is soulful and rich like Southern food, and like the 6-piece band’s hometown of Charleston, SC, their music is warm, approachable, rooted in history, and as diverse as you’d expect from a port city with historical ties to the Caribbean Sea, West Africa, and Old Europe. The band members also share a deep musical history together that can be traced back to the middle school band room, where founding members Ward Buckheister (trombone, guitar, vocals), Russell Clarke (saxophone, vocals), and Joel Timmons (guitar, vocals) first jammed together. Their tight vocal harmonies and conversational horn lines reveal a musical rapport that has spanned decades. The band’s youngest member, Ross Bogan, nimbly ties the SDT sound together with swirly organ and jazzy piano sparkling across the rock-soul orchestra. The rock solid drumming of Wes Powers and the fluid syncopations of bassist Matt Thompson lay a rhythmic foundation that gets the crowd dancing. When Sol Driven Train takes the stage, there is a palpable sense of brotherhood, mutual support, and creative independence.
Night after night, in cities and towns across the country, Sol Driven Train has brought their unique sound and passionate live show to audiences large and small. Along the way, the band has performed alongside their musical heroes, sharing stages with greats such as Bruce Hornsby, Levon Helm, Michael Franti, Tab Benoit, and Blues Traveller. Fiercely independent, and instilled with a hard-working DIY ethos, the band has amassed a loyal following that is every bit as eclectic as the music they play. Fans funded the release of Underdog in 2012, and a preorder campaign is in progress for the upcoming release, DANCE!, due out March 17, 2015. This will be the band’s 11th independent release, including two critically-acclaimed albums for children, a live concert DVD, a live album, six full-length studio albums, and the popular “Watermelon” EP. Stylistically, DANCE! bounces from reggae to jazz, and from folk rock to jam, and the band navigates the sharp turns with deft musicianship and sonic playfulness.
Sol Driven Train’s thoughts on their new record:
2015 marks Sol Driven Train’s 15th year together, and our upcoming album, DANCE!, reflects the fun-loving spirit and eclectic sound that our fans across the country have come to love. Recorded at Charleston Sound with producer Jeff Hodges, we used minimal overdubs and sought to capture the raw energy of a live performance in the pristine audio environment of the studio. The collection includes some older songs that have never been released, as well as new songs that were arranged collaboratively and performed for the first time in the studio. Old-school fans of the band will enjoy Joel’s contributions like “Coconut Tree” and “Greyhound Station,” written on a sailboat during an epic around-the-world trip in 2003-4. “Gravity” and “Everest” are songs of Ward’s that were attempted during the band’s 2008 Lighthouse sessions. These songs weren’t included in that album, but with Ward’s 5 years of sobriety and the musical maturity of the current lineup, these live show standards have been given new life on the record. “Crazy Dancer,” “Lobstamandaughta,” and “Big Easy Walk” are danceable tunes reflecting Joel’s gratitude to the people and places that we have visited in our travels. DANCE! closes with a stripped down a capella number, “Altitude,” where all 6 members sing and play body percussion in a doo-wop style love song. We had a blast making this album, and we hope you will enjoy listening and dancing to it.
-Joel, Ward, Russ, Ross, Wes, and Matt
“If you need to visualize the soul, think of it as a kind of train. Yes, a long, lonesome freight train rumbling from generation to generation on an eternally rainy morning: its boxcars are loaded with sighs and laughter, its hobos are angels, its engineer is the queen of spades – and the queen is wild. Whoo-whoo! Hear that epiphanic whistle blow. The train’s destination is the godhead, but it stops at the Big Bang, at the orgasm, and at the hole in the fence that the red fox sneaks through down behind the barn. It’s simultaneously a local and an express, but it doesn’t transport weaponry, and it certainly ain’t no milk run.” -Tom Robbins, Villa Incognito