Few, if any, Charleston rock bands have traveled a more adventure-filled path than Sol Driven Train over the last few years. They've survived multiple national tours, financial rough spots, a bout with Gillaine-Barré Syndrome, residencies at local clubs, intense studio sessions, and amicable lineup changes — and they've strengthened their sometimes-startling fusion of musical styles with every step.
This week, the quintet celebrates the release of a new concert DVD titled Live at the Windjammer, recorded at the Isle of Palms venue (a club that has embraced and supported SDT for years) on April 11, 2009. On the heels of last year's well-polished studio album Lighthouse and side project kids' album Tajar Tracks 2, it's another confident step forward.
Assembled by a production team from GillznFinz, a fishing and lifestyle television/web show that recently started recording performances (and local fishing trips) by bands, Live at the Windjammer is pretty well shot and edited. The camera crew found a few little nooks from the band dressing room upstairs and along the stagefront to shoot from multiple angles. There's a little jostle here, and a sloppy focus there, but overall, it's a nicely done, live-action documentary of a local band playing tightly and at the top of its game, it accomplishes its main goal of capturing the technical flair and chemistry, and the mood and atmosphere of the event.
Set one kicks off with a few ska-tinged funk tunes and jams. The stellar audio mix is a nice treat. At the stagefront, singer/guitarist and hand drum percussionist Joel Timmons, sax player/singer Russell Clarke, and singer/guitarist/trombonist Ward Buckheister demonstrate graceful teamwork and mutual support, locking on grooves, peppering songs with accents and embellishments, and harmonizing on the microphones. In the backline, bassist Rusty Cole and newly-enlisted drummer Wes Powers (who gradually replaced original drummer Phill Eason last year) keep a steady pace.
Set two (listed as the second of two chapters in the DVD menu), gets rolling as the band — in wild-looking Mardi Gras masks — bangs an assortment of hand drums, bells, and marching band battery, as they saunter into the main room (all five are handy with the sticks and mallets). It's one of the only scenes where the audience gets any screen time.
While they reveal a willingness to goof around onstage, as with the head-bobbing version of "Teddy Bear's Picnic" (from Tajar Tracks 2), they keep things seriously locked-in and tight across both sets.
Footage from Live at the Windjammer will appear on GillznFinz's next season, due to begin on the Versus TV network in January. The band's gig at Art's free show and a way to say thank you to their fans and those who've supported them through the years.