Music often rivals politics in the bizarre art of making strange bedfellows and displaying stranger-than-fiction truths. The Lone Bellow is a fascinating case in point.
Nearly 10 years ago, Georgia native Zach Williams began keeping a journal to balance his emotional state when his wife Stacy was temporarily paralyzed after a fall from a horse. During her recuperation, Williams learned to play guitar and started transforming his journal entries into songs, which he began performing at local venues as a solo act. Williams got a taste of harmony singing when he duetted with Kanene Pipkin at her brother’s wedding, but Pipkin was teaching music in China and further collaboration was impossible.
After his wife’s full recovery, the couple relocated to Brooklyn, N.Y., in 2010 where Williams began playing solo and with hired hands. Around this time, Pipkin moved to New York to attend culinary school and Williams’ college friend Brian Elmquist, who’d released three records on his own, relocated to NYC as well. Williams and Elmquist met at a diner to talk music, and Williams invited Pipkin to join them, leading to the formation of an actual band, initially dubbed Zach Williams and the Bellow, ultimately becoming The Lone Bellow.
After scoring some plum opening slots, including for The Avett Brothers, Brandi Carlile and The Civil Wars, the latter’s renowned producer Charlie Peacock met with the trio and ended up producing its self-titled 2013 debut. The album hit Billboard’s Top 200 chart and made close to a dozen major end-of-year Top 10 lists, including People’s and Entertainment Weekly’s. The Lone Bellow became one of last year’s biggest Americana acts, alongside (and compared to) Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers.
Earlier this year, The Lone Bellow announced that it was entering the studio to record a sophomore album with The National guitarist (and Cincinnati native) Aaron Dessner. In October, the band released the album’s first single and title track, “Then Came the Morning,” followed last month by “Fake Roses.” The full album is slated for release in late January but fan reaction to the singles is a hint that The Lone Bellow is headed for even headier chart success in the new year.
THE LONE BELLOW plays at 20th Century Theater Tuesday, Dec. 9. Find tickets/more info here.