Singer-songwriter Drew Holcomb responded to life in a pandemic with an outpouring of new projects. Armed with the determination to make the best of our current situation, Holcomb set out to ensure that his fans still had every opportunity to enjoy the music that they fell in love with. Thus, Live at the Tennessee Theatre was released last month in a refreshing compilation of genuine energy.
American Songwriter recently had the opportunity to ask Drew Holcomb about Live at the Tennessee Theatre and some of the songs on the album. We then chatted about everything from his band’s live stream shows to his strikingly successful cover series called Kitchen Covers that he produces with his wife Ellie Holcomb.
Live at the Tennessee Theatre encapsulates everything that is Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors. The record boasts the best moments of a 25 song performance in the Tennessee Theatre in Knoxville, Tennesse during their Dragons tour. A grand total of 15 songs and one sweet story ended up making the cut to package together a wholesome at-home concert.
“Yeah, the Dragons tour, in general, was probably our favorite tour we’ve ever had as a band. Something about that particular set of songs really translated well live,” Holcomb said. “There’s a lot of energy in songs like ‘Family’ and ‘End of the World’ and a lot of introspection as well in songs like ‘You Never Leave My Heart’ [and] ‘Bittersweet.’”
Holcomb continued, “We were able to hit most of it [the Dragons record] and it felt like the audience really wanted the new songs. Sometimes you feel like they are kind of tolerating the new record to get to the stuff they originally fell in love with. And so that energy really translated well from the crowd to the stage, and the Tennessee Theatre was one of my favorite shows of that tour. We recorded a lot of the tour that particular night. It had a lot of magic on it, and it was also one of the only shows that my wife was able to surprise us and be a part of their surprise the audience and be a part of.”
Clearly, the magic in the room that night was exceptional. Each track on the record oozes with the lively atmosphere of an engaged audience/performer relationship. Holcomb speaks to the audience like an old friend and the music couldn’t be more enjoyable. Now, you can place yourself in that room again by simply queuing up Live at the Tennessee Theatre.
Digging further into this live album, Holcomb also gave American Songwriter the scoop behind his inspirations for the boisterous and impossibly catchy song “Family.”
“It’s a song about the nostalgia of traveling. Now, I’m a father of three and we do a lot of time on the road. It’s just one of those things that I was wanting to write — a song that was sort of a nod to the chaos and beauty that family often is. Each line is sort of a little snippet, you know, like a little photograph/thought about what it’s like being in a family and how it’s good and bad and you can’t really choose your family.”
“Because it doesn’t really have a chorus, it just has that sort of like gang vocal at the top of it each stanza, it’s a really easy song for the crowd to get involved in. I think people, whether they’re two like my son or you’re 80, a lot of people resonate with that idea that no matter who you are or where you are, you still have family.”
Outside of commemorating this phenomenal collection of moments on the Dragons tour, Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors are continuing to perform for their fans via live stream. “We’d rather be out playing shows in real venues, but obviously that’s not in the cards right now. And so [live streaming is] a great way to keep playing music and have some connection with our fans…. the internet’s an amazing thing for a strange time.” Find out more information on their live streams happening through the end of this month here.
And finally, Holcomb dived into his spur of the moment/produced on an iPhone in the kitchen/wildly entertaining new project: The Kitchen Covers series.
“We just got home — our spring break trip got cut short. Obviously, everybody’s trying to get home as quick as possible. After two days of being home, we were like, ‘We got to do something.’ And so, [we thought], ‘What if we just played… a cover every night for a little while till people get tired of it.’ Thinking it would just be like, we do like a couple of them. The first night we did The Avett Brothers’ ‘No Hard Feelings.’ We had just opened for them New Year’s Eve — their big New Year’s Eve show — and just people responded so well to them. It got like thousands and thousands, thousands of views the first night and then carried on. We were like, ‘Well, let’s do another one.’ Next thing you know we were like, ‘Wow, this is like our thing, we’re gonna just keep doing it.’”
Overall, though Drew Holcomb remembers what is important despite his many successes and projects: family.
“Honestly, you know, I think everybody more than anything is taking some time to enjoy the time with our families and ways that we wouldn’t have done it if it had been a normal year. We’re not touring and so there’s this opportunity to sort of take a step back and just disengage a little bit from the chaos that touring life is.”