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SondorBlue at Kudu Coffee & Craft Beer on September 17th, 2016

SondorBlue at Kudu

On Saturday night, college kids and Charleston locals alike came out to Kudu Coffee & Craft Beer to see up and coming Hilton Head band SondorBlue live. It was hot as nine hells and pretty tightly packed in Kudu’s cozy little courtyard, but I’m sure I can speak for everyone there when I say that I had an awesome time nonetheless – SondorBlue put on a show that was beyond fun to watch and turned me (and everyone else there) into an instant fan. The band has been hard at work all summer, playing over 70 shows around the Charleston area before starting their senior year at the College of Charleston. The culmination of this busy summer takes the form of a debut EP dropping in late October, which will be available to stream on Spotify, iTunes, and Soundcloud.

Onstage, nothing comes across clearer than the fact that these guys truly love to play music, and that they love playing together. Members John Sheehan, Connor Hollifield, and Andrew Halley each contribute vocally, employing Crosby Stills Nash & Young-esque three part harmonies and hitting impressively high and low notes with ease. The three varying voices add a lot to the overall quality of the band’s sound in terms of vocal range. In addition to singing, Hollifield plays acoustic and, more recently, electric guitar, Halley plays bass, (which he’s just picked up within the last year – although it looks as though he’s played his whole life, he told me he started because the band didn’t have a bass player) and Sheehan plays keyboard, acoustic guitar, and the violin. And not to be forgotten is Drew Lewis, referred to by Halley as the “best drummer around town,” who kills it on the drums.

In addition to musical talent, the band offers well-written, insightful lyrics and a charming stage presence that inspired an enthusiastic reaction from their audience. From start to finish the band gave the performance their all, never once losing their energy or faltering in the quality of their music, interacting with the audience with the ease of musicians that have been performing twice as long as they have. Their set was well balanced between original songs and covers — some highlights for me personally were a very well done cover of The Beatles’ “Come Together” and an original song that made it on 105.5 The Bridge last week titled “More Than Reality” which has been stuck in my head since I heard it.

I had the privilege of interviewing the band after their set, and I had almost as much fun talking to them as I did watching them play. The members of SondorBlue are some of the nicest, most down to earth musicians I’ve met: it’s obvious both onstage and off that they sincerely love making and playing music.

From left to right: Connor Hollifield, Drew Lewis, Myself, Andrew Halley and John Sheehan.

In addition to having a great relationship with each other, the band seems to have a strong sense of their identity and what they want to achieve by making music: when I asked each of them to describe their music in one word, “compassionate,” “human,” “organic,” and “intentful” were what came to their minds. The name SondorBlue reflects that choice of words: ‘sondor’ was chosen because it “refers to the unique life story carried in each one of us,” and emphasizes the fact that every person has something of their own to say. In terms of musical influence, they listed Coldplay and The Beatles as two favorites, as well as Tame Impala, who they explained influenced Sheehan’s recent experimentation with synth electronic sounds using a keyboard. CSN&Y, Matt Corby, and Dr. Dog were also mentioned.

On another note, the SondorBlue guys are lucky to have a wonderful support system behind them. While interviewing them I had the privilege of meeting Andrew Halley’s parents, the band’s manager, Charles Wyke-Smith of Charleston Artist Management, (who told me he was “very proud of his boys,”) and Perri Schwartzman, their roommate, who was in the front row for the entirety of the set and knew all the words to each and every song. Perri has known the members of SondorBlue for a long time, and told me she was their manager back in the day, when they went by the name Local Visitors. Perri is without a doubt very proud of her friends – “they’re the best roommates in the world,” she told me with a smile, “and you can write that.”

To conclude, I can say that I loved hanging out with SondorBlue on Saturday night. I was impressed first by the quality of their performance and their music, and then by their relationships with each other, their authenticity and their genuine love of music. I think that’s what fuels the vision they have for the band, which Hollifield defined for me as their desire to get out and play as many shows as they can for as many people as they can. I look forward to following the very talented guys of SondorBlue as they continue to progress in their career, and I consider myself lucky to have gotten the chance to see them live.

SondorBlue can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat (@SondorBlue), and their debut EP will be released by the end of October.