You’re in Atlanta, circa 1985. You just saw this new band called Drivin N Cryin at the 688 Club, and man, did they kill it. Hard rock with a Southern twist, just the way you like it. After the set you step outside to have a cigarette. The bass player is out there, too, and you introduce yourself. He tells you his name is Tim Nielsen, and then the night turns into a blur of a wild party that you don’t quite remember. In the morning, the only thing you’re really sure of is that from now on, you’re going to see Drivin N Cryin any chance you get.
The years go by and you watch Drivin N Cryin go from a local rock ‘n’ roll band to a nationally touring band, with a record deal and several critically acclaimed albums. You keep that promise to yourself and see Drivin N Cryin play dozens of times, and you and Nielsen become pals, always catching up over beers between sets. Somewhere around the year 2000 Drivin N Cryin slows down the touring, you meet your wife, move to Charleston and start a family. The wild parties of your youth have mostly been left behind in Atlanta, and you haven’t been to a rock show in years. Hell, you don’t even smoke cigarettes anymore.
One day you’re walking down King Street with your wife and much to your surprise you run into your old pal Tim Nielsen, also with his wife. After a brief moment of surprise and catching up on the street, the lot of you decide to step into Kickin’ Chicken for some grub. Naturally, you have tons of questions for Tim, and he’s more than happy to hang out and chat.
“What are you doing in Charleston?” you ask Tim.
“Moved to Mt. Pleasant about five years ago,” Tim replies. “Love it here.”
“Still playing shows?”
“Yeah man,” Tim says. “Actually have a show Friday night at the Music Hall.”
“Do any of these kids even know who Drivin N Cryin is?”
“You’d be surprised. We sold out the Windjammer a few months back. Crowd was a big mix of age groups. We had sixty year old guys out there actin’ like they’re twenty. Rock ‘n’ roll is coming back in style with the younger folks, too.”
“What’s the Windjammer?”
“You’ve never heard of the Windjammer? You need to get on Facebook, man.”
“I don’t know about that Facebook.”
“If you were on there, you’d know that this town has a great scene. There’s this Americana craze taking hold right now, and Drivin N Cryin was kind of the pioneers of all that.”
This conversation is starting to make you feel old, but you’re also starting to feel that rock bug that infected you so often in your twenties. You think maybe it’s time to get out there and see Drivin N Cryin play again, but before you jump to conclusions you want to learn some more. First, though, you call over the waiter and order a beer. You can’t remember the last time you drank a beer in the middle of the day. But, you know, rock ‘n’ roll.
“Is there anything different about the shows in the 80s and 90s and the shows y’all play now?”
“Well, obviously we’re older now, but other than that not really much. The main difference now is that we’re a combination of a band that plays new original music, and then we can touch that nostalgic tone with people, and bring them back to when they were younger, those days and those times. We’re not up there to preach anything, we let the lyrics speak for themselves, entertain people and take them away from their everyday problems and everyday stress. It’s an outlet for people to enjoy themselves, without an agenda. We just want people to have fun.”
“Did you say new music? Are you guys still writing songs?”
“We’re actually writing songs now, because we have plans to go to the studio in January. We’ve been working on a few demos, we’ve got a few songs recorded. We’re gonna start on a new full-length album project in Nashville. Aaron Tasjan is going to produce it, and that’s actually who’s playing with us on Friday night at the Music Hall.”
“Wow, I’ve really been out of the loop. Is the process still the same?”
“It’s getting back to the way it was, man. It feels really good. You know, we used to have a practice room, and we practiced 3 or 4 days a week, and we would work out the songs there. We even had a little 8 track rigged up in there. Then the record company came along and we started writing songs on the road, at soundcheck, and since we were on the road so much we didn’t need a practice room anymore. Now, though, we’re on the road mostly on the weekends, and we have to set aside time to write and practice again. So we’re gonna go to Nashville, we’re gonna get in a practice room, and we’re gonna work.”
You’re starting to get really excited about all this news, and you’ve pretty much decided to go see Drivin N Cryin at the Charleston Music Hall on Friday night. If Tim can find the time to go record, practice, and play shows, you can certainly find the time to go see him play. Plus, it would make for a great date night with your wife. The wheels are certainly turning now, but you still want to know more.
“I think this is awesome, Tim.”
“Me too, man. We’re almost like a new band again. We don’t have a record deal right now, but if a record company comes along, and wants to get on board, that’s great. Either way, we’re all in, and I think we’ve got a good thing going with this approach.”
“How about the lineup?”
“Well, you know, we’ve mostly been a 3-piece for all these years, but the lead guitar has switched out a number of times. The last time we recorded we had this young guy named Sadler Vaden in the band, and made some really great music with him. He went off to go play with Jason Isbell and then Aaron Lee Tasjan stepped in, and then Warner Hodges. Now we’ve got little Joe, Laurer Joamets, he’s from Estonia, and played on both Sturgill Simpson records. It was tricky trying to fill in the guitar spot, for sure, with guys going in all different directions, but we’ve got Joe committed and we’re excited to go to Nashville with him in January.
“Last question, Tim. Will you be playing any of these new songs on Friday night?”
“I get the feeling you haven’t listened to Drivin N Cryin since our first live album came out back in ’99, so most of it will be new to you. But you know, we don’t really ever make a setlist. Kevn just rounds off tunes based off what he thinks the crowd is like that night. We’ve got a lot of songs to choose from, so it makes for a really fun time.”
You’ve certainly made up your mind by now. You’re going to see Drivin N Cryin at the Charleston Music Hall on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.
“Oh and by the way, if you come to the show, drink the Island Coastal Lager. We’re donating $3 per beer to the Lowcountry Food Bank.”
It’s come to the end of your lunch with Tim Nielsen, and you get ready to pay your tab and part ways. When the check comes, you realize that you’ve hardly even touched your beer. Tim looks at you with a raised eyebrow, and you know what you have to do. The problem is, you aren’t sure if you can stomach it, but you’re going to do it anyway. You put that bottle to your lips and down it in three large gulps. It doesn’t go down easy, but it feels good after a little burp, much to your wife’s dismay. When you get home, you sign up for Facebook and after an hour or so you finally figure out how to follow Drivin N Cryin. From there you snag tickets to the Music Hall and you’re well on your way to going to another rock show.
I had some fun with this one, so I hope you enjoyed it. Tickets to Drivin N Cryin and Aaron Lee Tasjan at the Charleston Music Hall are $20, and are available here. The band is hoping to make this a little Thanksgiving tradition, so get out there and help make this first installment a good one. Share this article and tell your friends to come too. Rock on.