It wouldn't be Christmas in Savannah without the annual Homegrown Holiday Hoedown. Well, OK, it would still be Christmas, but since 2011 — when the Hoedown tradition began — the season's been considerably more festive 'round here.
Featuring the Train Wrecks, the Accomplices, American Hologram and the New Familiars (a Charlotte-based band), it starts at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14. Be there or be square.
Eric Dunn, who plays standup bass in the Train Wrecks (and is one of the city's omnipresent and most welcome musicians for "sitting in" with everybody else) recalls the inaugural HHH. Like this one, it took place in the ballroom of American Legion Post 135 on Bull Street.
"I always wanted to do a show at the Legion," he explains. "You know, do a show not in a bar, basically. A real show. And our band and the Accomplices wanted to play together. It was two or three months before Christmas so we decided to go ahead and make it a Christmas party."
More specifically, they crafted the Hoedown as a benefit for Toys For Tots. In addition to the $20 admission charge ($15 in advance), you're asked to bring a new, unopened toy for a child in need.
The 2011 and 2012 Hoedowns sold out — man, were those fun shows — and there's no reason to think this one will be any different. "I think it's because it's not in a bar, and it's not at midnight," Dunn reiterates. "It's more of an event."
It's 21+, and there is a cash bar. So, duh.
The Accomplices were fresh-faced and new at the first event; as they get ready to co-headline the 2013 Hoedown as a veteran band, singer and guitarist Matt Eckstine marvels at the changes over the last two years.
"It's been really coming together with us," he says. "We've been starting to do the touring thing, pretty much like a week a month. I think we've been out of town like six weeks in the past four months. We just did the Levon Helm Tribute show in Charlotte, with the Train Wrecks and the New Familiars. It was awesome."
Also in the pipeline is the second Accomplices' album. Eckstine, bassist Zach Smith, fiddler Colleen Heine and drummer Stan Ray cut the basic tracks in a rented Fripp Island beach house, and are finishing up with vocals and overdubs at Elevated Basement here in Savannah.
"With this new record," says Eckstine, "I think you're going to hear really where we've developed into and where we're going."
"I came from more of a rock background. Zach has more of a jazz background. Colleen's bluegrass, and Stan is kind of a funk man. So the first record we made is all over the map; we were trying to find our style.
"And we've grown as a writing team, really. Maybe I brought in some lyrics and chords, and we just made them songs together. It was more of a joint effort, and a lot of that was just from playing these songs night after night for the past year or so. They just developed."
Britt Scott, one-third of the Lovely Locks, is also part of American Hologram, along with Eric Britt and Craig Tanner.
"Right now, I'd say it's more of a collective, because we're all songwriters and we all play each other's songs," Scott says. "That's how Lovely Locks started."
It all happened over the summer. "I had Eric Britt's CD in my car," she explains, "and I learned all of his songs. I went to one of his shows and I was like 'Hey, let me sing with you.' Craig was always playing with him; he plays really good lead guitar.
"During the summer I started joining with them a little bit. And we said 'All right — we're a band now!'"
Simple as that.
The ubiquitous Eric Dunn — when he's available — plays bass with American Hologram. And Scott's musician Dad, who lives in Virginia, always sits in on drums when he's in town.
Advance tickets are available at thetrainwrecksband.com and at the Legion bar, 1108 Bull St.