Next stop for Sol Driven Train: High Country MusicFest

Article Published: Oct. 6, 2011 | Modified: Oct. 9, 2011
Next stop for Sol Driven Train: High Country MusicFest

Sol Driven Train will perform Saturday at the High Country MusicFest.

Photo by Frank Ruggiero

Americana roots rock band Sol Driven Train has its sights set on making the High Country its next fan depot.

Following an enlivening appearance at August’s Music on the Mountaintop, the soulful Americana roots rock is returning to the area for the fifth annual High Country MusicFest.

Happening Oct. 7 and 8 at the High Country Fairgrounds in Boone, the festival highlights some of the top-drawing bands in Boone music scene. The lineup includes Possum Jenkins, Big Daddy Love, Galaxy Jam and The Native Sway.

Sol Driven Train appears on the second day of the festival, starting its set at 2 p.m. on Saturday. One of the out-of-the area names on the bill, the Charleston, S.C., group is quickly emerging as a favorite of High Country music fans.

For the past 10 years, people across the country have lined up for a ticket on the Sol Driven Train, a ride that features music that guitarist and vocalist Joel Timmons called “joyous, earnest and light-hearted.”

From the swap to the Caribbean, a diversity of flavors influence the band’s sound, make it widely appealing to a variety of audiences.

“We definitely borrow and play a bunch of different styles of music,” Timmons said. “We put our fingers in a lot of different pots.”

Sol Driven Train has run track all over, playing an average of 250 concerts a year. Three of the band’s members grew up in the Charleston area and started the band when they were just kids. Although it’s taken hundreds of shows and thousands of miles to see their youthful aspirations through to realization, it’s been worth it, Timmons said.

“These are the dreams that we had when we were in high school, and I’m still with some of the same guys, so it’s a joy,” he said. “It’s exhausting at times, for sure, but we’re learning the balance.”

While they’ve barreled into the High Country a few times, Timmons said the band would like to make the trips less sporadic. That’s one of the reasons they decided to play the High Country MusicFest.

“We had to think long and hard about it, because we’re playing in south Louisiana the next day,” he said. “But we always have a great time up there and wanted to do it again. We love the area.”

The opportunity to play at another outdoor festival also factored into their decision. Festivals are like fuel for Sol Driven Train; they appear at a number of them every year and even started their own festival, SolFest, in South Carolina this summer. Timmons said the group likes to do festivals because it’s the best avenue for exposure.

“It’s the perfect place for a band to go, because people are out to find new music,” he said.

He said they enjoy the atmosphere, especially when people in the audience do out of the ordinary things. For instance, seeing a group of audience members in a 25-foot worm costume serves as great entertainment while on the stage.

“People are dressing up all crazy when you’re at a festival,” he said.

The High Country MusicFest is one of the High Country’s last outdoor festivals of year. In his three-piece suit, Timmons is ready to counter any possibility of cooler weather. He said the crowd can depend on Sol Driven Train to get its blood flowing.

“There’ll be plenty of jumping up and down and sweating,” Timmons said.

The band will be playing music from its latest release, the mix-tape style EP, “Watermelon,” which was released in July.

Between mail orders and selling it at concerts, Timmons said the response has been really positive. The title track, about their adoration of the summer fruit, has gotten airplay across the United States and even in Australia and Europe.

“There’s a little momentum going on right now with ‘Watermelon,’ and we’re looking forward to following it up with something full-length next year,” Timmons said.

With Sol Driven Train’s 10th independent release, set to be available in spring 2012, Timmons said the band is not running out of steam any time soon.

“I think the most exciting thing is just to see the progress of the band, musically,” he said. “Everybody’s stoked about the music we’re making.”

Sol Driven Train is Ward Buckheister on guitar, trombone and vocals, Rusty Cole on bass and vocals, Wes Powers on drums, Russell Clarke on saxophones and vocals, and Joel Timmons on guitar and vocals.

For more information on Sol Driven Train, visit

High Country MusicFest takes place at the High Country Fairgrounds, located at 748 Roby Greene Road in Boone. Tickets are $10 for Friday, $15 for Saturday or $20 for a two-day pass. Tent and RV camping are available for an additional fee.

For more information on the High Country MusicFest and to buy tickets, visit

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