What is lowcountry stomp and where does it come from? You might say it is the sum of its Southern rock-guitar, Appalachian-inspired fiddle and rock‘n’roll-rhythm parts. If you ask frontman John Cranford of the Hilton Head Island four-piece Cranford Hollow, however, he gets personal. “It is the pulse of Phil's bass and Julius' kick drum. Eric's fiddle lays this thick Southern smoke on the top and I just get my guitar to crunch a little bit, filling in the gap in the middle of the sound.” Interested yet? Me, too, and I took my curiosity to Mr. Cranford to figure out more about this buzzing new band making its first Telluride appearance tonight.
How has the tour West been treating you guys so far? Any stories from the road you can offer up about Colorado?
It has been exceptional. The people, the mountains and the crispy fresh air have been really enjoyable. The first night in Evergreen was a little rough. The staff and sound engineer Lloyd were really nice, and the Little Bear Saloon is a great venue, except there were literally 15 people at the show. It was tough to realize we had driven all the way from the South to play to such a small crowd. But by the end of the night those 15 people were being the best audience you could ask for, and they all stayed for the entire show. That made us feel really welcome. We walked away from that show with 15 new friends.
Tell me about your home on Hilton Head Island, the not very well-documented music scene there, and how it shaped your sound as a band.
Hilton Head is a tiny community filled with a ton of artistic talent. A large amount of locals make their living playing both covers and originals ’round town. Those folks have inspired us to make it a full time job as well. In a town with a little less than 40,000 citizens, we have a dozen places you can go any night of the week and hear some great live music. One of the top 100 jazz clubs in the U.S. is located there. We started our own record label called Swampfire Records, and have released eight albums under that name, including the most recent, Cranford Hollow LP. We also put out four sampler albums that feature original tracks from more than a dozen local artists all recording original music. The local press is very supportive of our cause, and we have crowded bars filled with a community of friends who come out nightly to support live music in the lowcountry.
How do you predict your sound that seems to be popular in those rowdy Southern bars will translate in a potentially rowdy ski town bar?
I think Colorado is a lot like South Carolina. Definitely not the landscape, but an economy that prides itself on the tourism and hospitality industry. South Carolina and Colorado have people from all over the world visiting these two great states each year. The tourists come for the beautiful scenery, outdoor activities and culture that are unique to both places. A similar sound resonates here in Colorado as it does in South Carolina, and that sound is truly American. And even if the style or genre doesn't always have the same flavor from state to state, a crowd is a crowd, and a good bar with enough whiskey is a recipe for a good time anywhere.
Speaking of, what is the band’s whiskey of choice?
Jameson! Always Jameson.
Telluride has never hosted Cranford Hollow. What can potential fans expect from you in the live setting?
A high-energy show that will hopefully get you out of your bar stool and heat you up on a cold December night.
Why the band name change from Cranford & Sons to Cranford Hollow? Anything to do with separating yourself from obvious Mumford & Sons similarity?
You hit the nail on the head with this one. People thought we were some kind of Mumford tribute band. We wanted to stand on our own without any kind of assumption of what we sounded like or the songs we played. Cranford Hollow is a name that is original and unique. Our fans helped us pick it out and we are feeling stronger than ever with this new record and our tour out West under way.
Cranford Hollow, Thu., Dec. 19, Fly Me to the Moon Saloon, 10 p.m., $3