Five years ago, Lindsay Holler and Jamie Resch sat at Cumberland's on King Street, drinking and talking about their various musical projects. "We decided to plan a big country show with a bunch of local friends and maybe an out-of-towner or two," says Holler. "We were regulars at Cumberland's, and they were into it, so we decked it out with Christmas lights and put on a great show."
After two successful years of the Holy City Cold Hearts Revival, Cumberland's closed. Holler partnered with Pour House owner Alex Harris for the next year and it was be a great fit. The club has been home to it since.
Some of the original musicians have gone in different directions, but Holler is still at the forefront of the project. "Alex and I really do it together," she says. "He handles the bigger, out-of-town acts, and I get the locals together."
This year's incarnation features a great mix of both. Columbia-based band Josh Roberts and the Hinges join the New Familiars out of Charlotte and Atlanta's Blair Crimmins and the Hookers.
Local talent includes Holler and her Western Polaroids and Resch's Kentucky Shoes along with the Royal Tinfoil and Megan Jean and the KFB.
"Josh plays all the time in Charleston, so we knew him and knew he'd be great," says Holler. The Hinges, with Leslie Branham on guitar and banjo, Robert Walker on guitar, Corey Stephens on bass, and Dennis Ware on drums, often conjure up opposing comparisons. Perhaps Roberts puts it best when trying to define his band: "We want to cross folk mystery with country and blues emotion and AC/DC power."
The other two out-of-town acts are perhaps less known around Chucktown, but they promise to add mystery and punch to the show. "I didn't know that much about the New Familiars," says Holler. "But I listened to a bunch of their stuff, and they're going to fit in perfectly with this group. And Alex got me really into Blair Crimmins and the Hookers. They're quirky and a little sinister, and they add a carnival-type atmosphere to the show, which we wanted."
The New Familiars feature Josh Daniel on vocals and guitar, with drummer Daniel Flynn and guitarist/mandolinist Justin Fedor providing honky-tonk style harmonies, and Patrick Maholland on bass. They tour constantly, bringing their Appalachian-style bluegrass-rock to both coasts.
The Musical Stylings of Blair Crimmins and the Hookers was released this year on New Rag Records and showcases their piano-driven pre-rock 'n' roll cabaret stomp that recalls 1920s New York jazz while dripping with Tom Waits-ish nighthawk swagger. Crimmins plays a popping piano and strums the banjo and guitar, backed by intermingling horns and scat rhythms. The Hookers have gained a following in dozens of oddball clubs in New York and Philadelphia and maintain a large presence on the ever-changing Atlanta scene.
Holler and most of her bandmates also come from a jazzy background, but they've moved toward a folk-country-rock style.
"I was trained as a jazz singer for years and studied it at Berklee [School of Music in Boston], but I remember realizing that I didn't listen to jazz," says the Moncks Corner native. "I was at a show in Myrtle Beach with Wilco opening for the Jayhawks in a tiny bar with no one in the crowd, and both bands were kind of bummed about that and ended up just drinking and getting onstage together and playing together. I was at a crossroads, having just left Berklee, and it just looked like fun to play with friends and really love the songs you sing, and only then did I really pick up the guitar."
Holler studied jazz at College of Charleston before hooking up with drummer Nick Jenkins, bassist Ben Wells, keyboardist Sam Sfirri, and a friendly rotation of other musicians. She believes their jazz background helps them as a band. "We can improvise and deal with whatever problems come up because we all have that background, and [guitarist] Bill Carson's style works perfectly for a bunch of jazz people playing country," she says.
For those afternoon music-seekers, Jamie Resch shows off her Kentucky roots and beautiful voice, and the Royal Tinfoil (also known as Lily Slay and Mackie Boles) bring their wild antics and in-your-face style to the deck. Park Circle residents Megan Jean and Byrne Klay, who just released their first full-length album, Dead Woman Walkin' on their own label Guts and Know How Records, round out the deck show.
"We always look for bands that have different styles but still fit in with each other," says Holler. "And we've definitely got that this year."