Drew and Ellie Holcomb reunite for acoustic Peace Center performance
For a decade or so, singer/songwriter Drew Holcomb could look over and see his wife, Ellie next to him onstage and in the studio. Ellie helped bring Drew’s passionate folk-rock to life as part of his band, The Neighbors and, for eight albums, she was really his only songwriting collaborator.
The Holcombs managed to bring The Neighbors’ music from obscurity to critical acclaim and commercial success with their 2015 album Medicine, which hit the Top Ten on both the Billboard Folk and Independent Album charts. But by the time Drew launched the tour for Medicine, Ellie had left the band, both to raise their daughter and to work on her own solo career as a contemporary Christian artist.
Ellie, who began releasing music in 2011, has arguably experienced more commercial success on her own than The Neighbors ever had, landing two Top Five solo albums on the charts and winning a GMA Dove award for Best New Artist in 2014.
Drew managed to maintain The Neighbors momentum with their 2017 follow-up, Souvenir, an album that saw him collaborating with his other bandmates extensively and adding a little more rock & roll muscle to his sound. But they both admit that they never really got used to making music without each other.
“It had been about six years since we toured together,” Drew adds, “and we missed being onstage together.” That feeling of missing each other is where the Holcombs’ current tour, which finds the two of them onstage playing their songs acoustically, was born. After finishing the touring cycle for Souvenir, Holcomb rejoined Ellie on the road in 2018 for a few shows, just to see how it felt and to gauge their audience’s response.
“We did seven or eight shows to see what it was like,” he says, “and we wrote some new songs together and realized it was really fun, so we wanted to do it again.”
“It feels like working and dating at the same time,” Ellie says. “It’s been an absolute blast. I love that we kind of get to go our own ways and do music the way we want to individually and then come back together and write again. It feels like the best of both worlds.”
As for the audience response, the duo needn’t have worried. “Almost every show sold out,” Ellie says. “We expanded the number of dates and it wasn’t any less full.”
And the 2019 tour, which will bring the duo to the Peace Center in Greenville on Valentine’s Day, fittingly enough, is doing just as well. In fact, before our conversation, Drew said he found out that tickets for the Peace Center show are almost sold out. “We’re playing a huge room compared to the rest of the tour,” Drew says of the Peace Center show. “I
felt like we have a lot of fans in the South Carolina area, so if we were going to try a big room, it should be in Greenville, and at the Peace Center, because it’s so beautiful. So to play this show and have people have the appetite for us to play together has been beyond my expectations.”
“I think that means we should keep doing it!” he adds with a laugh. The show, which combines material from The Neighbors with the duo’s new songs and selections from
Ellie’s albums, has given the Holcombs a sense of artistic and personal renewal after a long time apart.
“Having not toured together for so long, it felt great to miss each other,” Ellie says. “I think we took for granted how much we enjoy each other’s company, and in some ways, being apart enhances how much you enjoy being around somebody.”
“It’s been a great way to revisit those years and build something new, especially now that Ellie has so clearly come into her own as an artist,” Drew says. “I want to support that onstage alongside her. We’ve really found that it’s been good for us to see each other in our working environment again.”
What: An Evening with Drew & Ellie Holcomb
Where: Peace Center, 300 S. Main St.., Greenville
When: Thursday, Feb. 14th, 7:30 p.m.
More information: 864-467-3000
Vincent Harris covers the local and regional music scenes for the Greenville Journal. Follow him on facebook & twitter @HarrisVince or write to email@example.com