Cranford Hollow: The Sound of the Lowcountry
Author: Kent Thune
Nashville has country music, Los Angeles and New York have pop, rock and rap, and Hilton Head Island has Cranford Hollow. And in case you don’t know, that’s a good thing.
Whether onstage or on any of their recordings, Cranford Hollow’s music and lyrical accompaniment has an uncanny ability to become a soundtrack of the Lowcountry, evoking the sights, sounds and experiences of people living life amidst the lingering sunsets, dripping Spanish moss, and the raw earth smell of pluff mud. Within that backdrop, insert a band, a crowd, and a bar, and you have Cranford Hollow.
Although the popular Lowcountry band prefers not to confine themselves to any particular musical genre, they can be best described as a hybrid of Southern rock and Americana, which is, according to the Americana Music Association, “contemporary music that incorporates elements of various American roots music styles, including country, roots-rock, folk, bluegrass, R&B and blues, resulting in a distinctive roots-oriented sound that lives in a world apart from the pure forms of the genres upon which it may draw. While acoustic instruments are often present and vital, Americana also often uses a full electric band.”
Cranford Hollow’s sound is definitely “a world apart” from the mainstream, and this is precisely what draws crowds to their live shows and inspires fans to buy their music. “Our live show is different every time. We have a core group of four guys, but we often add players and change instrumentation to switch things up. I like to make the experience different, and hopefully a good one for the fans, every time,” said front man John Cranford.
If you haven’t caught a Cranford Hollow show around the Lowcountry, it’s probably because you haven’t been paying attention to the local music scene. Or, maybe it was because the band was traveling around some other part of the country when you happened to venture out of your house for a night on the town.
Once you’ve heard their music, you’ll easily recognize their sound, especially when you hear Cranford’s raspy voice, which is equal parts Tom Waits and Levon Helm of The Band, blended smartly with driving Southern rock and acoustic guitars, big drums and haunting fiddle melodies.
Established in 2011, Cranford Hollow is comprised of vocalist and guitarist Cranford, vocalist and fiddler Eric Reid, bass man Phillip C. Sirmans, drummer Randy Rockalotta, and guitarist Yannie Reynecke.
Earning its reputation as the epitome of a working band, Cranford Hollow has played over 900 shows to audiences all around the country; the band just kicked off their summer tour in Roanoke, Virginia, with scheduled shows in over 25 cities throughout the Midwest and Rocky Mountains, after which they’ll return to the South to wrap up the tour in Macon, Georgia, on Friday, August 19. One highly anticipated performance is a showcase at Cervantes’ Other Side in Denver, Colorado with the bands One Drop, Cold River City, and fellow South Carolinians Gaslight Street and Josh Roberts & The Hinges. The band has shared the stage with the likes of Phillip Phillips and the Band of Heathens.
But the biggest news this year for the band and their fans is the upcoming release of their fifth studio album, Color/Sound/Renew/Revive (the first letter of each word in the title is the first letter of each of the four core band members’ last names).
Set to be released by Cranford’s Swampfire Records on Labor Day weekend 2016, the album highlights the band’s raw and evolving sound. “The new album is totally new and really fresh. Although it’s similar to our second, self-titled album, the tempo and feel are more polished and produced. We’ve created this huge, massive sound,” Cranford said.
There are eight new songs on the album, including an instrumental song, which they’ve never done before on a studio recording. The album is engineered by longtime Coloradoan Preston Havill, who worked with the band on their fourth album, St. Telluride. The album is mastered by Howard Willing, who previously mastered their eponymous second album.
“We started the process of creating the new album by recording some high quality demos at our Hilton Head Island studio at Swampfire and then took them out to Telluride while on our winter tour and finished the album there. If the album were a house, I would say that we laid the foundation and built the wood frame here on Hilton Head and finished building it out in Telluride,” Cranford said.
When that Cranford Hollow foundation that was formed on Hilton Head Island is combined with a bigger, more produced sound that was finished in Colorado finds its way into the hands of the band’s fans, it’s sure to build on the success that has helped them to grow from a local bar band into a national touring outfit.
“I hope everyone likes and appreciates this album,” Cranford said. “It represents the direction we are headed in the future.” And if that future looks anything like the past, it’s sure to be bright for him, the band, and his fans.
If you’re reading this article prior to the scheduled Labor Day weekend release of the album, Cranford Hollow has teamed up with PledgeMusic to allow fans to preorder Color/Sound/Renew/Revive and to offer them a unique, behind-the-scenes experience of the recording process and life on the road through content exclusive to PledgeMusic subscribers. For more information on this offer or to learn more about the band, visit their official website at cranfordhollowmusic.com. You can also listen to all four of Cranford Hollow’s previous recordings on iTunes, Pandora, Spotify, and Tidal; you can follow the band’s social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. With a tour schedule that never seems to slow down, you’re always in for a treat if you catch them live at any of several venues around Hilton Head Island, Daufuskie Island, and Bluffton.