IF YOU GO
■ What: Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors featuring Judah & The Lion.
■ When: 8 p.m. Saturday, April 12.
■ Where: Track 29, 1400 Market St.
■ Admission: $15 in advance, $17 day of the show.
■ Phone: 423-521-2929.
■ Website: www.track29.co.
“There’s no romance in the details [of touring] anymore for me. But as soon as we’re walking onstage and until we walk off after the encore, I feel totally alive and completely satisfied with my work.” — Drew Holcomb
2005: “Washed in Blue”
2007: “Live From Memphis” / “A Neighborly Christmas”
2008: “Passenger Seat”
2009: “A Million Miles Away”
2011: “Chasing Someday”
2012: “Through the Night: Live in the Studio”
2013: “Good Light”
In the early days when he was still playing cover shows at bars, Drew Holcomb saw music as a chance to stroke his ego a bit. His love of the singers/songwriters he covered was sincere, he says, but the payoff was really about building himself up.
Then, in a freak coincidence, Ryan Adams walked into a venue just as a 22-year-old Holcomb was singing one of his songs. They struck up a conversation after the set ended, and Adams offered a nugget of wisdom that stuck with the Nashville-based singer/songwriter.
“At the time, I was kind of worshiping at the altar of his music,” Holcomb remembers. “He said to me, ‘Hey, man, you’re really good, but you need to listen to less of me and less of Steve Earle and find out who you are.’”
So, Holcomb says, he started looking for another reason to stand behind the mike. If building up himself wasn’t a satisfactory goal, then he decided he’d settle for writing a soundtrack to the human condition.
“Now, I feel like my vision is … all about [my] songs finding a home in people’s lives,” he says.
Saturday, April 12, Holcomb and his band, The Neighbors, will headline a Track 29 show that will conclude the band’s three-week Nothing But Trouble, Nothing But Time tour of midsize cities and college towns.
A native of Memphis, Holcomb was raised on a diet of soul music and singers/songwriters such as Bob Dylan. Like many Memphis music lovers, he all but sneered when he looked east to Nashville, which many in his home city perceived as a breeding ground for Christian acts, country artists and little else.
He moved — “kicking and screaming,” he says — so his wife and bandmate, Ellie Holcomb, could accept a teaching position at a Nashville high school.
Once there, he realized the music scene’s diversity and quickly established himself as an active member of it. Every year for the last decade, he and his band have racked up 150 dates, on average, often in support of heavy hitters such as Susan Tedeschi, John Hiatt, The Avett Brothers and Los Lobos.
At Track 29, Holcomb says, the set will be split evenly between songs from the band’s last album, 2013’s “Good Light,” selections from the back catalog and brand-new, unreleased material.
Hopefully, he says, some of those songs will achieve that special resonance with the audience that he’s learned to aim for.
“That, to me, is the long-term mission, to continue to write songs and put out records that become a part of people’s lives and stories in a way that helps them survive the next day — and not just survive it but maybe enjoy it,” he says.
“We want to be part of our fans’ musical life for a long, long time.”
Contact Casey Phillips at email@example.com or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.
Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...