Photo: Robbie Caponetto
Arist: The Lone Bellow
Home Base: Brooklyn, New York (Via Georgia and Virginia)
There's something alchemical in the way certain voices combine, a goose bump-inducing quality that can't be predicted, learned, or forced. And the first time Kanene Donehey Pipkin (right), Zach Williams (middle), and Brian Elmquist (left) harmonized together, they knew they'd stumbled upon something special. "We hit this real big note one of the very first songs we rehearsed, and it was like, 'Man, this is a safe place. This is something that we should lean into,'" says Zach, the group's main songwriter and guitarist. All three were occupied with other projects but soon dropped everything else to focus on The Lone Bellow. Effortlessly toggling between heart-shattering ballads and gutsy, boot-scootin' romps, the band's genre loyalties are loose. But their tight harmonies call up the spirits of early country pioneers such as The Louvin Brothers and later favorites such as Emmylou Harris and Gram Parsons. As Southern expats living in Brooklyn (Zach and Brian grew up in Georgia; Kanene hails from Virginia), the three friends share a bond that's almost like family—though of course they've got their blood relations rooting for them too. After the release of their self-titled debut in early 2013, the band was especially happy to follow their touring schedule back to the South. "We played in Atlanta, and my 80-year-old grandfather and Brian's 80-year-old grandpa both came to our show," Zach says. "There's a lot of love from our families and our hometowns, definitely."
Musical Heroes: Kanene: Patsy Cline; Zach: Jim James from My Morning Jacket; Brian: The Highwaymen
Their New Fave: Hayes Carll