In the town where country music was born—where two states come together on one street—a spark lit and a duo was ignited.
At the 2012 Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion, on the way to take the stage with his band, Sol Driven Train, guitarist/singer George* found himself sidetracked by Della Mae, an all-girl, Grammy-nominated bluegrass band. It was that group’s bass player, Sally**, who most captivated his attention.
That evening, after their respective sets, the future partners first met on a Bristol sidewalk. Their electric eye contact—over a conversation about their shared passion for travel and music—forged a deep impression on them both.
Two years passed before their worlds again collided. Wracked by unspoken questions, George emailed Sally a bold love song recounting their meeting, spun into the story of a vivid fantasy about the paths their lives could take together. Upon listening to his courageously awkward three-minute pickup line, Sally fell in love.
Weekends away from their bands’ busy touring and recording schedules found them stealing away to George’s hometown of Charleston or Sally’s home in Nashville. They hatched plans for airplane rides to exotic rendezvous.
But after touring through over 25 countries with Della Mae—including serving as a musical ambassador for the U.S. Department of State—Sally realized her musical path was leading her in new directions. Following a tour to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, Sally parted ways with her long-time bandmates in late 2014.
With her heart and soul at ease, Sally hunkered down to write new original music, filling her newfound free time with impromptu performances, gardening and surfing adventures with George.
Likewise, George found himself full of fresh inspiration for his primary creative outlet, Sol Driven Train. Formed at the turn of the millennium among a group of childhood friends from Mt. Pleasant and Sullivan’s Island, the group’s national touring schedule—along with airplay on Sirius XM’s JamOn channel—helped them build a reputation as rhythmic rock ‘n rollers, fueled by a collectively positive outlook on life and live performance. Sol Driven Train hosts their own annual homegrown music festival on Isle of Palms, SC, and frequently tours the American West, New England and the Virgin Islands.
Time spent amongst Sally’s talented musical friends in Nashville soon kindled George’s renewed passion for Americana music. Merging the worlds of Sol Driven Train’s freeform live performances and the bluegrass scene’s structured professionalism, the pair began writing new songs with stripped down instrumentation, emphasizing song craft and melodic vocals.
Drawing from their love for the classic duet styles of Johnny Cash and June Carter, as well as contemporary artists like Alison Krauss and Dan Tyminski, or Gillian Welch and David Rawlings (and even their Charleston compatriots, Shovels & Rope), the pair discovered that their love for each other translated into an incomparable musical melding.
“When two voices join together to make the rafters ring, it makes my heart sing,” expresses Sally. “Vocal blend and musical chemistry comes easily with George.”
George agrees: “Sally brings so much to the table. Bluegrass roots, easygoing lead and harmony vocals, imaginative writing, and a sexy stage presence.”
Most of all, the pair are having the time of their lives, rediscovering the fun of a new musical partner, both with extensive resumes, coming together to form a duo that bridges classic harmonies and the widening world of Americana music. They’re at work on a debut record in Nashville. In 2015 and beyond, look for them performing at festivals and venues across the country.
*George is Joel Timmons
**Sally is Shelby Means