Published on March 5th, 2013 | by Ballard Lesemann0
The South Carolina Broadcasters Head Into Tarheel Territory
As one of the most authentic “traditional” folk combos in the Lowcountry, the South Carolina Broadcasters have been delivering harmony-laden acoustic songs for a several years — from the celebratory to the heartbroken. They lean toward old-time mountain music and gospel with a simple guitar/banjo/fiddle instrumentation.
Ivy Sheppard (fiddle, banjo, guitar, vocals) and husband David Sheppard (guitar, vocals) released their debut album A Thousand Miles Away From Home in 2011 with Grace Kennedy (banjo, vocals) on board, The trio followed in 2012 with a solid collection titled Can You Hear Me Now.
These days, the Sheppards are settled in a new homebase up in North Carolina, and they’re playing around the region with new bandmate Sarah Osbourne. The revitalized Broadcasters are getting ready to release their third studio album this spring.
Metronome Charleston caught up with Ivy and Sarah this week as they prepared for a homecoming show at the Pour House.
Metronome: What’s the latest news on where everyone in the band is officially located? When did the band officially leave Charleston for new digs in North Carolina?
Ivy Sheppard: We’re between Mount Airy and Raleigh now. David and I decided to leave Charleston at the end of the year for a variety of reasons, the most important being that trying to make a living playing traditional music based out of Charleston is tough. We were driving a 1,000 miles a weekend. That’s a lot. Mount Airy is pretty centrally located. The cost of living is lower, and it allows the possibility to go further afield.
Metronome: How and when did the band adjust the lineup, adding Sarah Osborne as the banjoist and harmony singer?
Ivy Sheppard: Sarah joined us this past summer. We were playing at a little barbecue joint in North Carolina where this girl was sitting on the front row, singing along with every song so we asked her to join us on stage. Her voice fit perfectly. We were doing a live radio show a couple weeks later, and I asked her if she’d like to do that with us. We pretty much instantly knew she had to join the band. The only trouble was she told me she didn’t like the banjo. We invited her down to Charleston and I gave her a banjo lesson. She changed her mind.
Metronome: Was it relatively easy or challenging to work a new member into the South Carolina Broadcasters?
Sarah Osbourne: For me, it was relatively easy working my way into the Broadcasters as the newest member of the band. My place came naturally as did the songs. Our voices really seemed to meld together instantly.
Metronome: How has the band’s live sound developed and changed since the release of Can You Hear Me Now last year?
Ivy Sheppard: We’ve really gotten into this “rowdy gospel” thing — you know, bar-room gospel for the rest of us. There are all these great gospel songs that resonate with the Southern soul. I think we may have gotten louder and we’re definitely having more fun. David and Sarah have written some really great songs, and we’re definitely exploring that avenue.
Metronome: How has the experience of touring around the Southeast and elsewhere musically and personally effected or influenced the ban over the last few years?
Ivy Sheppard: I guess traveling and touring is something you love or you don’t. We all got the bug bad. There’s nothing more fun than hopping in the car to go somewhere to play music. We’ve met the nicest folks and made lifelong friends playing music. And it’s really fabulous when you go to a new town and there’s a room full of people excited to hear you play that you didn’t even know about your music. That’s happening more and more and it’s such a great feeling. It makes the show a real joy.
Metronome: Tell us about “When I’m Gone.” Is it a new single or part of a forthcoming album? Where and when did y’all record it?
Sarah Osbourne: “When I’m Gone” is our single due for release on March 5. It’s also a part of our forthcoming album, Short Time to Stay Here. This old and fairly obscure Carter Family tune hasn’t been touched for decades, so we’re excited to be one of the only bands to make it our own. We recorded “When I’m Gone” in December at Eastwood Studios in Cana, Virginia. This song is simple, but so full of emotion that it has the capability to pack a real punch.
Metronome: It seems like you’ve recently developed a healthy alliance with North Carolina band Mandolin Orange. Y’all shared the stage at Awendaw Green earlier this winter. What can fans expect from both acts at the Pour House this week? Any on-stage collaboration?
Sarah Osbourne: This will be our first show with Mandolin Orange in Charleston, and we couldn’t be more excited. I’ve been a fan for quite sometime, so it will be especially fun to share the bill with Emily Frantz and Andrew Marlin. Fans can expect a fair share of rowdy gospel from us and plenty of songs that will be on the new album. Mandolin Orange is consistent in their ability to captivate the crowd. Their vocals and instrumentation are stunning. I feel like our bands complement each other really well.
Metronome: What’s the story on the jamboree and festival events that will be hosted by the Historic Charleston Foundation in April?
Ivy Sheppard: We’ve been invited to be part of the Home and Garden tour concert series. It’s a great chance to help the Historic Charleston Foundation and get to play in a couple of the coolest churches in town.
Metronome: What are your plans for the rest of 2013 — on the road, in the studio, and elsewhere?
Sarah Osbourne: We’re thrilled to be playing at MerleFest in North Carolina this year. It’s a big honor to be playing such an iconic festival with so many impressive names. After that, we’re headed out on the road for our northeast tour to promote our album. Our goal is to play as much as we can and consequently, have as much fun as possible.
Ivy Sheppard: We’re adding festivals and cool new venues to the schedule all the time. We pretty excited to be playing increasingly high profile venues. For anybody who’s been out on the road, there’s no trouble understanding that being background music in a bar ain’t all that much fun. As Sarah said, we just want to be playing as much as we can.
The South Carolina Broadcasters share the stage with Mandolin Orange at the Pour House at 8:30 pm. on Thurs. March 7. Tickets are available for $6 in advance and $8 at the door. Visit scbroadcaster.com and charlestonpourhouse.com for more.
Here are the South Carolina Broadcasters performing “When I’m Gone” at the Feed & Seed in Fletcher, N.C., 2012:
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