Zach Williams (of the Lone Bellow)
Long before they combined their voices, the three members of the Lone Bellow were singing on their own. Brian Elmquist had been writing and recording as a solo artist for more than a decade, with three albums under his own name. Kanene Pipkin and her husband, Jason, were living in Beijing, China, hosting open mic nights, playing at local clubs, and teaching music lessons. Zach Williams began writing songs in the wake of a family tragedy: After his wife was thrown from a horse, he spent days in the hospital at her bedside, bracing himself for the worst. The journal he kept during this period would eventually become his first batch of songs as a solo artist. Happily, his wife made a full recovery.
When Kanene’s brother asked her and Zach to sing “O Happy Day” together at his wedding, they discovered their voices fit together beautifully, but starting a band together seemed impossible when they lived on opposite sides of the world. Brian soon relocated to New York and Kanene moved there to attend culinary school a couple of years later. The three got together in their new hometown to work on a few songs of Zach’s. After hitting those first harmonies, they decided to abandon all other pursuits. Soon the trio was playing all over the city, although they considered Rockwood Music Hall on the Lower East Side to be their home. They opened for the Civil Wars, Dwight Yoakam, Brandi Carlile, and the Avett Brothers. Their self-titled debut, produced by Nashville’s Charlie Peacock (the Civil Wars, Holly Williams), was released in January 2013 and established them as one of the boldest new acts in the Americana movement.