[The music of The Lone Bellow will be featured on All Over The Place Internet Radio for the rest of January. Please feel free to check out the videos accompanying this article. You can also listen to the accompanying Spotify playlist. – RFG]
It seems that these days, you can divide popular music into two parts: the big, dumb, loud music that you hear on the radio and the more honest, authentic and refreshing music that doesn’t necessarily draw attention to itself. Bands like The Black Keys, The Lumineers and The Civil Wars represent this second group nicely.
Up-and-comers The Lone Bellow are one of the newest groups to fall into that category. Beginning as Zach Williams and The Bellow, the Brooklyn-based country-folk trio raised over $20,000 in the summer of 2011 to fund the recording of their debut album.
The band was renamed The Lone Bellow last fall.
Their self-titled 11-song debut CD is being released today by Sony through the band’s imprint, Descendant Records. (It has been available on iTunes for the past week. A vinyl version of the album will be out on February 19.) Williams is excited about the album. “It’s definitely the biggest project I’ve ever been a part of. I feel like we’re representing an entire community of people who have helped establish this music over the past couple of years. I’m humbled and honored to be a storyteller of this group of people out in Brooklyn,” said Williams, a native of Acworth, GA.
Williams’ musical journey stems from personal tragedy. “I was 22. My wife fell off a horse on my parents’ property and broke her neck. While we were living in a hospital, I wrote a journal, trying to process everything. I would read my journal entries to my friends,” recalled Williams.
His friends encouraged him to sing and write songs based on those journal entries. “Songwriting was a necessity for me to help sift through those things,” said Williams.
His wife eventually made a full recovery. “She started moving one day. Nobody knew how or why,” said Williams.
The other members of the band are Kanene Pipkin on mandolin and vocals and Brian Elmquist on guitar. Williams is the principal songwriter for the band.
The three musicians met over the last few years. “Brian and I were roommates a long time ago. Brian was the first person that told me I should try to sing in front of people. Kanene’s older brother, Mike Donaghy, was one of the people who lived with me in the hospital back when everything hit the fan. Kanene and I met at Mike’s wedding. She was living in Beijing at the time. She ended up moving to Brooklyn about three years ago. That’s when we started the band.”
Playing songwriter-friendly venues such as Rockwood Music Hall on the Lower East Side and Red Hook’s Jalopy Theatre moved the band’s career along and helped them develop their sound. “The city definitely helps curate the songwriting. People are honest here. They’ll tell you if something’s no good,” said Williams.
The band appears on TBS’s Conan tonight. “I really want to pick the right song! I kinda want to feel the vibe in the room before we sign the dotted line,” remarked Williams.
“I grew up loving him. I cannot believe that he’s letting us open up for him,” enthused Williams.
The Lone Bellow will continue with some radio station appearances in February and a three-month tour covering both coasts and Canada starting in March.