Interviews HitOrMiss(VikasNambiar)1

Published on December 20th, 2013 | by Ballard Lesemann


The Punch List with Hit or Miss

Metronome Charleston‘s weekly Punch List puts local musicians on the spot with a questionnaire that touches on music, venues, gear, records, and vices. This week, local duo Hit or Miss — singer/guitarists and multi-instrumentalists Joel Timmons and Ward Buckheister (both of Sol Driven Train) — have a go with the questionnaire.

1. What is your favorite local hang and why?

Joel: “The Brick House Kitchen on James Island. Great food, beautiful oak trees, Tuesday night drum circle, friendly ghosts, live music, and close to home.”

Ward: “The Pour House, for sure. They’re family.”

2. You know you’ve played an excellent show when…

Joel: “You are soaked in sweat, and the audience is on their feet, demanding more.”

Ward: “The ass is ripped out if your new three-piece.”


Joel Timmons and Ward Buckheister at Art’s Bar & Grill (photo by Ballard Lesemann)

3. What was the last show you attended that really got you fired up in a good or bad way?

Joel: “Sol Driven Train recently showed up in Detroit to open for Tab Benoit, and there was a line of people around the building, waiting in the snow. That kind of dedicated audience gets me fired up in a good way.”

Ward: “The jam during Tab Benoit’s set in Cincinnati. Russ Clarke [sax], Joel, and I are sitting in and the power completely craps out. Tab instructs us, the horns, to ‘take it.’ So, Russ and I get a huge feature on ‘Saints,’ and the forced dynamics crush — potential disaster averted. I nearly danced myself off the stage.”

4. Define your musical style in exactly 10 words.

Joel: “Southern-folk-rock-jam-groove-melodic-percussive-heartfelt-Americana-fun.”

Ward: “Funny groove-rock ‘n’ reggae world jam with good manners.”

5. What’s your theme song?

Joel: “Lately, it’s been ‘Royals’ by Lorde. It makes me want to dance, and I love the anti-bling values that she espouses.”

Ward: “‘You Belong to Me’ by Jo Stafford. Just because. And Dawes’ ‘Most People.’ Beautiful and great stop-start chords to kick my leg to. I am very fond of overblown and sporadic rocker kicks. Doing one right now.”

6. Gear-wise, what’s is your irreplaceable baby?

Joel: “Well, it is all ‘replaceable,’ but I would hate to try to replace my Taylor 514 acoustic guitar. She has been at my side for 17 years, and though she is scratched, cracked, and warped, she is still my bestie.”

Ward: “Is that a trick question? I can’t afford to replace anything.”


Sol Driven Train (provided)

7. What’s the most overplayed album in your collection?

Joel: “The Mills Brothers’ All Time Greatest Hits. Those songs and voices never get old, even though some of the recordings are nearly 80 years old. Playing this album brings joy to my heart and a smile to my face, every time.”

Ward: “Paul Simon’s Graceland. Singing with that album taught me to harmonize. It is the first album my dad made me listen to isolated from anything else but me, him, and the music — like he got it and knew I did, would, or at least damn sure should.”

8. When was the last time you were genuinely star-struck?

Joel: “I have been crushing on a certain female musician for a few years. At a festival this fall, I had an opportunity to meet and talk with this star. I was so nervous and overwhelmed that I wore a fake beard to the show, and fled immediately after the encore. Smooth, huh?”

Ward: “I made myself ram into [guitarist] G.E. Smith one time. I was too afraid to speak to him. He’s unbelievably nice and had been chatting up the rest of the band all night. I’m a pretty big chicken.”

9. What’s your poison?

Joel: “Wine-weed-women.”

Ward: “Now? Starbucks, I guess. I’ve been eating raw cloves of garlic lately. Who cares?”

10. In 10 years, I will be…

Joel: “Taking a break from international touring to spend the holidays in Hawaii. I will be laughing with my beautiful wife and kids about the time I wore a fake beard to her concert.”

Ward: “In 10 years I will be teaching my son the piano — here or at my mountain house.”

Longtime musicians in the Charleston scene, singer/guitarist/percussionist Joel Timmons and guitarist/trombonist/percussionist Ward Buckheister have been bandmates in the groove-based rock group Sol Driven Train for years and years. On the side, they often perform around the Lowcountry as a duo under the name Hit or Miss.

At a typical Hit or Miss show, Timmons and Buckheister start out playing acoustic and electric guitars, but as their sets of covers and originals gain momentum, they often swap their six-strings for hand percussion (tambourine, cajon, djembe). Buckheister pulls his trombone out from time to time, too. During their performances, the music might swing from roots-reggae, Afro-Caribbean, and New Orleans styles to vintage folk, Americana, and country. They can easily render a fine version of Toto’s “Africa” upon request (see clip below).

Last winter, Sol Driven Train celebrated the release of a well-produced full-length album titled Underdog. The band is set to headline the Pour House on Dec. 30-31 as part of the two-nighter New Year’s Eve celebration. They’ll embark on their annual two-week tour of the U.S. Virgin Islands in Mid-January.

Hit or Miss will perform at the Surf Bar on Folly Beach at 9 p.m. on Fri. Dec. 27. Sol Driven Train will share the Pour House stage with the Dead 27’s on Mon. Dec. 30 and with Mama’s Love on Tues. Dec. 31.

Hit or Miss will be back at the Pour House on Wed. Jan. 8 at 9 p.m. Visit for more.

Top photo by Vikas Nambiar.



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About the Author

Ballard Lesemann

is a musician and writer. Born and raised in Charleston, S.C., he spent years playing in bands and working for Flagpole Magazine in the bustling music town of Athens, Ga. He returned to his hometown and served more than seven years as the Charleston City Paper's music editor. He's better at drumming than he is at playing guitar.

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