Published on February 23rd, 2013 | by Stratton Lawrence


Review: Sol Driven Train Delivers a Family Affair at the Music Hall

Sol Driven Train
Charleston Music Hall, Feb. 22

It felt like a family affair at the Charleston Music Hall on Friday night as Sol Driven Train celebrated the release of their new full-length album, Underdog.

The night began with a projection of a music video for the song “Guest List,” featuring the Train and a merry band of friends marching throughout Charleston and Magnolia Cemetery. The boys then took the stage for a fairly straightforward take on songs off the new disc, beginning with the title track and continuing through “Lady From Chiang Mai,” the bluesy “Changed Mind,” and “One More Day.” Local singer Danielle Howle joined the band for her soulful duet with singer/guitarist Joel Timmons on “I Do Declare.”

With the audience politely seated but enthusiastic between songs, it was clear that SDT saw this hometown theater show as a chance to perform their songs concisely and close to the studio take, rather than stretching out into the improvisation that might occur at a club show. Still, pulling out “Watermelon” (the title track from last year’s EP) to close the first set ensured that the audience moved to their feet and the orchestra pit crowded with dancers to send us to intermission.

With an attentive audience and crystal-clear acoustics, the band took advantage of the opportunity to tell the stories behind songs, from Timmon’s “Underdog” about guitarist/trombonist Ward Buckheister’s path to sobriety to Buckheister’s own “Samantha Marie,” a song he wrote for his girlfriend years before it became a SDT mainstay.

For set two, the band reached farther back into their catalog, opening with “Banks’ Waltz” and “Cat in Half.” The set included tracks off of their 2005 debut, Churning Burlward, and a shout out to former drummer Phil Eason in the balcony. In addition to crowd favorites like “Believe,” they hit a few favorite covers, as well, including the Wood Brothers’ “Postcards From Hell” and Gillian Welch’s “Look at Miss Ohio.”

By the end of the set, the audience was entirely on their feet and the pit had crowded in, creating a perfect set-up for the band to reemerge for an encore behind the audience as a drum line, dressed in their marching band outfits. After drumming through the crowd, they took the stage for an a cappela rendition of “Guest List”, before closing the night with a raucous “Cake” off of 2010’s Believe.

Of note, the CD release became an unexpected encore performance after Dave Matthews Band violinist Boyd Tinsley caught their warm-up the night before, prior to his own film screening and performance in the Music Hall. Tinsley invited the band on stage to play a few songs, including a stretched out cover of Paul Simon’s “Late in the Evening.”

Fortunately, after the CD release show, saxophonist Russell Clarke assured us that when the call comes from DMB to fill-in for Jeff Coffin on their summer tour, he’s keeping his allegiances with Sol Driven Train. That’s a wise move, considering the professional performance and warm reception they gave and received at the Music Hall.

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Top Photo by Ballard Lesemann.


Sol Driven Train at the Charleston Music Hall (photo by Stratton Lawrence)


Sol Driven Train with Noodle McDoodle at the Charleston Music Hall (photo by Stratton Lawrence)


Sol Driven Train at the Charleston Music Hall (photo by Ballard Lesemann)


Sol Driven Train with Danielle Howle at the Charleston Music Hall (photo by Ballard Lesemann)




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About the Author

Stratton Lawrence

is a Folly Beach-based freelance writer, editor, and songwriter. He's still trying to figure out the perfect caloric balance between beer consumption and booty shaking when he's on the job covering the local music scene. Find his work at

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