Bob Seger’s song ‘Night Moves’ played on the PA as I talked to Daniel Davis with Folk Soul Revival before their show at Allandale Mansion last month. We both agreed that Bob gave us great songs, and perhaps his other hit, ‘Turn the Page,’ was appropriate for tonight’s performance — one of the last for Folk Soul Revival.
It’s been close to a decade since I first crossed paths with Folk Soul Revival. When we first met, Allun Cormier had just joined the band, and I was thrilled by their first performance (for me) on State Street during the early days of the reunion at Bristol Rhythm and Roots.
Allun was one of the sparks that continued to ignite the band’s success in East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. He had been playing with These Undowners and several other regional musicians before joining Folk Soul.
Together, with Allun’s tunes, the band had a phenomenal collection of songs. They had already recorded several memorable songs penned by Daniel Davis and Justin Venable. Together with Allun’s coarse honest songs, the band had all the ingredients for fate, luck, and originality to stand out above all the others.
This story took an unfortunate turn when Allun passed away close to New Year’s Eve in a house fire in Bristol, Virginia.
Following Allun’s passing, the band continued to gain momentum mainly due to their early manager Charles Fontaine. Our path crossed while working at a local newspaper, dabbling in video and digital content — showing up at many performances.
As a musician, some moments come along as plain old luck. I don’t remember the phone call, but Fontaine asked me to record with the band on the ‘Prompting The Dapperness,’ and I started to perform with the band.
The next thing I knew — four years had gone by and, we played some great stages across the South. I still look back at those memories as being some of the best stage experiences ever.
If one thing was sure for Folk Soul, they were always able to roll with the changes. They’ve responded to various circumstances, kept writing great songs, and leaning into a busy schedule that keeps them driving the van while balancing their day jobs.
So fifteen years or so and four albums later, the band is playing Allandale Mansion tonight and their last show at the Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion on September 10th — 12th. So, what’s happening? Why’s the band breaking up?
Like most changes, the ones I saw most were in a couple of conversations before their set, and that’s good enough.
First, there’s that thing we all know a little about- life. It’s a beautiful thing if you look close. Sure, things get complex, but they become even more special as the days unfold. One of the reasons was the bright-eyed, furious youngsters anchored by each of the guys at Allandale tonight.
Of the two songwriters in the band, Daniel has two young sons, Lennon and Hayes. They are the classic template for two young brothers. Always together and forever going the other way.
Vinnie has a young son and another on the way. Waylon is chubby and mysterious-looking. He was shirt-naked at Allandale and quick to locate other rebels just like himself.
Bassist Brandon Sturgill is the last of the original trio of Folk Soul, and his two sons are well on their way to quickly growing up too.
Now back to the Bob Seger reference:
This year has been an exciting time for me. It’s one of many now, and I’m even more grateful. Particularly for understanding how change can light a hundred more fires if you chase it.
Davis was telling this story in his iconic Southern Folk Soul accent. He said, “I was thinking of you the other day. I was thinking about that time you played piano with me on the Songwriter’s Stage at Merlefest.”
It’s the memories like this that make my memory of Folk Soul Revival so special. I was fortunate enough to play many stages in too many counties here in the highlands of Appalachia. Too many to remember, but a lifetime to recall.
Daniel has been nominated again for Merlefest Songwriter of the Year in the Gospel category. He looked at me and said, “I’ve been writing Gospel Music. It’s all on my phone.” Davis is nominated for his song “Dear Lord.”
I do not doubt that what happens next with the guys in Folk Soul will be just as distinctive, if not more, in the years to come. Watching these families continue to grow, and the band’s members evolve into their next episodes will be just as exciting as a new season on NetFlix. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear of new bands, new performances, fresh new songs and you know there’s a reunion in the future.