Tuesday Tunes: Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors.

oh mylanta, it’s long. — read the subject line of KD’s e-mail in my inbox this morning containing the second part of this week’s Tuesday Tunes. i immediately felt my heart smile as i sent her a quick note back…“you do realize who you’re talking to, right? i am the queen of rambling.  brief, to-the-point, concise…i know not the meaning of such words.”

the way i see it: when you’ve got something worth writing about, then by-golly you must write about it. and Drew Holcomb & his crew are worthy of quite a few words. so settle in & soak up every last one of Kelly’s wonderful words…take it away, KD!

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I fear that not being short on words may lead Maddie to never ask me to contribute to her blog again! My review is a wee bit long, but bear with me as I’m just a little passionate about the subject matter (:

For those of you just now hearing of Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors: Husband and wife, Drew (vocals, guitar) and Ellie Holcomb (vocals, guitar, mandolin, keyboard, tambourine) makeup the front line of the band, supported by the versatile guitar stylings of Nathan Dugger (backup vocals, guitar and a bazillion other instruments), Rich Brinsfield (bass), and Jon Radford (drums). The group is currently on tour promoting their latest album, Chasing Someday. (Though I don’t think Rich was on my leg of the tour).

Drew and Ellie have a special way of singing hope, redemption, and dreams into the normal routines of life as their music tosses out subtle little reminders that the “life imagined” is still possible. Their music has its own special way of creeping in and exhaling into the little heart crevasses of everyday life.  Perhaps many of you feel that your favorite music does the same for you.

Reminds me of a great scene from The Shawshank Redemption

Andy: That’s the beauty of music. They can’t get that from you… Haven’t you ever felt that way about music?
Red: I played a mean harmonica as a younger man. Lost interest in it though. Didn’t make much sense in here.
Andy: Here’s where it makes the most sense. You need it so you don’t forget.
Red:Forget?
Andy Dufresne: Forget that… there are places in this world that aren’t made out of stone. That there’s something inside… that they can’t get to, that they can’t touch. That’s yours.
Red: What’re you talking about?
Andy Dufresne: Hope.

That particular scene is such a wonderful example of what draws so many people to music. Hope. It makes even the tone-deaf eager for that new album to drop and the self-professed “groupie” count down the days until the next live concert. It’s what makes those of us who are musically inclined continue chasing after any excuse to play or sing (or dance)!

The highly-acclaimed single “Live Forever” from Chasing Someday reminds us to dust off the trappings of this life and place our hope in someone greater. “Some people say faith is a childish game, well play on children like its Christmas day. Sing me a song, sing me a melody; sing out loud, you’re a symphony.”

And “Anywhere But Here” is like my never-ending daydream.  Off with someone you love, seeking freedom from the everyday. It reminds me of days in college when I’d drive up to the Blue Ridge Parkway just to simply be. “Your love is like a holiday, somewhere I can breathe — when I’m scared of who I can’t be, you bring me sweet relief.”

Drew, Ellie and the NEIGHBORS have awakened my love of a song and my desire to write at least ONE incredible one before I die. They certainly know how to write a killer one…or two or three, etc…each drawing a host of emotions from their listeners.

A little line from the song “Hour Glass” wakes us up from the envy, jealously and self-deprecation that so easily seeps in from the competitive, “one-up” culture of our society: “Oh the miles we’ve wasted in someone else’s shoes.”  They manage to communicate in one perfect line what would have taken me a thesis to explain.

And in still another song they call to our imaginative spirits – the one the world sometimes tries to push away, pressuring us to think “I’m too old for those games now.” The song, “Miracle” is like the soundtrack of my childhood summers in the countryside of North Carolina. “There are no worries, just the sweet, sweet smells of our youth, visions of someday and castles in the sky. But someday came and went, I still miss that scent of my imagination; the memories, visions and dreams.”

Their live shows exude a warm sense of community. They  create an atmosphere that makes you feel like you’re a part of the band/family, continuously encouraging you to sing along to each song or join in the laughter when things get a little silly on stage. Quite suddenly you feel as if you’ve known them for years and they’re playing to you straight from their living room. I get the sense that they really care about the joys and sorrows of people they meet each night.  Their music has been a huge influence on many of my own friendships-particularly with Chelsea, James and Ms. Madison. We’ve been inspired by quite a few Neighborly concerts in the last few years… the first of which just so happened to be Chelsea and James’ first date!

I had the pleasure of seeing them once again at the Lincoln Theatre in Raleigh last week on one of the first stops of their Chasing Someday tour. My friends and I managed to edge our way to the very front/side of the stage, and having never had an up-close and personal experience with the band, I can tell you now we picked the right night to do so. Everyone had such intentional stage presence — Drew and Ellie were playful with the crowd and each other & Nate Dugger fed the rise and fall of each song with both smooth slide guitar accompaniments and more prominent solos (my favorite being the interlude in the middle of “Hour Glass). Everyone frequently interacted with each other, making the close-knit vibe of the group unmistakable.  They’re neighbors, they’re family…it’s as simple as that.

Opening with the ever-so popular, “Fire and Dynamite, the band hit the ground running full throttle; I couldn’t help but feel like we were smack in the middle of the music video…

It’s amazing how much this song still gets to me despite the hundreds of times I’ve heard it. The first time I saw the music video, the images of the people and respective relationships filled me with equal amounts of longing and hope. And when I shared it with my dear friend Keitcha last week, her response was perfect, “I want red in a sea of black and white!”

The theme of “someday” that runs through the latest album is something each of us can relate to; some of us are hoping for someday, some of us have caught up to it and are living in it; others of us recall the nostalgia of someday passed. And still for some of us, our someday is wrapped in hope awaiting the day when all things will be made right.  “Someday take me far away from here; Kingdom coming, hard to believe.” The song, “Weight of the World” never fails to make my eyes water.

The highlight of this particular show, however,  arrived towards the end of the night when the band took a well-deserved break and Ellie took the opportunity to move in beside Drew and share a microphone. SA-WOON. The intimacy of sharing a mic with someone you like and/or love=powerful. To a slow, acoustic version of “Love is Magic, they took my breath and left me speechless. In fact, I think you could have heard a pin drop as the entire room held its collective breath, completely mesmerized. And just when we thought it couldn’t get any better came the lines “love it will not betray you, dismay you, enslave you, it will set you free; make you more like the man you were made to be” from the Mumford and Sons song, “Sigh No More. WHAT?! Holcombs + Mumford? MON-SWOON (shout out to Keitcha).

Incidentally, this little gem of a video is from the Exit/In show in Nashville that Madison attended — Moo, I think I can hear you singing along! — And oh my word…3 minutes in when they raise the melody and harmony? “ I die, no, I’m dead”.

The common thread throughout Drew & Ellie’s music re-iterates Rumi’s saying “Let the beauty you love be what you do.”  The passion and dedication to their craft speaks volumes to their love of music and “chasing the muse.” It inspires me to do what I love WITH the people I love. I often daydream of being in a group similar in style to the Neighbors; one that still gets out and goes on tour in a van with the closest of friends, providing musical therapy to new friends made along the way. In between songs during last week’s show Drew paused and said, “I can’t believe this is my job tonight.” Oh, how glad we are it is.

Though Chasing Someday will likely catapult my favorite band far past the pockets of fans throughout the southeast and into more mainstream notoriety, I look forward to always getting to see them in the small, intimate settings that make their live shows so meaningful…much like a trip next door to visit with your neighbors.  I wish them nothing but the best and look forward to watching as they take the world by storm! I also HIGHLY encourage you to go right this very minute and get yourself a copy of Chasing Someday and proceed to listen to every song! And if you won’t take my advice, surely you’ll listen to this little cutie…

Thank you , Drew & crew, for reminding me to “get busy living,” — after all  “What we don’t know won’t stop us now.”

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i agree with every single word. every last one of them. and that’s really all i have to say on the matter — so do yourself a favor and become an honorary neighbor…the more the merrier.

KD, you are a true gift, sweet friend & i’m so incredibly thankful for your heart and love of music!

the end.


 

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