Published on October 17th, 2019 | by Michael Ray0
Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors Glide into the Ford Center for “Dragons” Tour, Monday, October 28
In the genre game of musical chairs, Americana is one of the newest to the table. The American Music Association officially named this genre in 1984 by creating a radio format that played a form of contemporary Country Music that did not fit into the normal air play of the day. Americana is defined by a musical style mash up of country, roots rock, folk, gospel, and bluegrass. One of the first artists to have borne the moniker was Emmylou Harris. Since then, the term has been applied to any artists with an earthy sound that Billboard cannot put into just one column. Drew Holcomb, of Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors, proudly relishes his distinction as an Americana artist. I had a chance to talk with Drew ahead of their show on October 28 at The Gertrude Castefellow Ford Center for Performing Arts here in Oxford.
So, you’re originally from right up the road in Memphis, right Drew?
That’s right. I was born and raised in Memphis, my parents are from Memphis, grandparents . . . we have many generations all from Memphis. After high school I started attending college in Knoxville and really started my song writing there. After that, I moved back to Memphis and got a job at a recording studio. Pretty soon after that, I started playing some gigs around town at places like The P & H and The Hi Tone, just kind of cutting my teeth ya know? After doing that for a while, I knew I was gonna have to try my luck away from Memphis.”
How hard was it to really get going in a town like Memphis, with the music scene that they have there?
It was tough. We had a small following at first, friends and family, but then we really started to get embraced by the scene and we developed a really good following. I have no complaints about Memphis at all! The city has always been very good to us. We play a Christmas show at The Orpheum every year that sells out! Memphis has done a great job at trying to keep its musical heritage for alive.
What got you into music and wanting to be a musician?
My mom plays piano. Our alarm clock when I was a kid when it was time to get up for school, was her playing hymns. My dad? My dad loves music, but couldn’t play. When I was 12 years old, he bought me my first guitar. I really think he always wanted to learn to play so he kinda lived vicariously through me learning to play. They have been my biggest supporters from the start. They love coming to shows and they have even traveled around some to see our shows in different cities.
Who were your biggest influences when you started playing that guitar at age 12?
Well this was really when everyone was playing Nirvana songs and Counting Crows, Radiohead, and such. Pretty much anything that was on the radio, I was learning to play it. Now when I got into the song writing more, it was artists like David Gray, Bob Dylan, Bob Seger, all the great singer songwriter stuff.
In this day of Digital Format, you guys actually still put out new releases on Vinyl and have been on the Billboard Vinyl Charts a few times. How cool is it to have your music in that format?
It’s very cool and I also think very important. As a fan it is important for me to have the album in my hand. There has been such a resurgence of vinyl in music collectors. We noticed about four or five years ago, we started selling more records than CDs, so we started to ramp up our vinyl production. It was around that time that I started the Magnolia Record Club. I really thought I’d have a few people sign up, but it’s thousands now, and it really blows my mind that we get to introduce people to some of the best vinyl out there today.
In 2016 you guys recorded a live album at The Ryman Auditorium. Being labeled an Americana band, what was it like to record in that legendary building?
It was truly awe inspiring. I have had some really great moments there, as a fan, seeing a show. I’ve seen Tom Waits, Beck, Kris Kristofferson, all there. I know I have been to at least 50 shows at The Ryman. Being able to play in the room where I have seen so many of my heroes was a very overwhelming experience; it was very spiritual. When we first started out playing, I didn’t have the courage to dream that big, but when it happened, I could easily say that is was the pinnacle of my career.”
Do you mind being labeled Americana?
Not at all! It’s such a broad stroke with the music brush of genres. So many of my heroes call it home as well, so I am quite honored to be right alongside them in that category.
Your wife, Ellie, is a part of your band, in the studio, after she left the road to be home with your daughter, so I have to ask, what’s it like being married to someone in your band?
It’s great. She is the first person that I want to hear a new song I write. We are committed to our marriage and to our creative lives. We are each other’s biggest supporters and hopefully, most constructive critics. On a whole I really think that it makes our marriage great. She knows what life is like out on the road. She knows the stress that comes with it. We are able to speak a language to one another that not a lot of other people know or comprehend, so we really have that advantage.
What can the fans look forward to in your show here in Oxford on October 28th?
We love what we do! We always try and bring the energy to each and every show that we play. We always love being down South of course, and if you feel like dancing, dance. You want to sing along, sing at the top of your lungs! We just want everyone to have a good time, because we always do!
You can pick up the new album from Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors, Dragons, right now at www.drewholcomb.com and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.