Returning after a 10-year hiatus was perhaps the true crowning achievement of Charleston '90s and 2000s folk rock sensation Jump Little Children.
In 2015, the band that rocked the stages of many a downtown bar and club — from 1995's "The Licorice Tea Demos" to 2005's "Between the Glow and the Light" —returned after 10 full years apart for a memorable performance at the Dock Street Theatre. Guitarist Jay Clifford, singer Matt Bivins, percussionist Evan Bivins, stand-up bassist Jonathan Gray and cellist Ward Williams mirrored their last show at the same venue a decade before.
"We were really uncertain in 2015 what it was going to feel like 10 years later," says Evan Bivins, who had since moved to Chicago and now resides in Atlanta and is pursuing comic book art as well as music. "Our biggest fear was that it was not going to feel good. We walked out on a very high note for us personally. It was just some of my favorite memories of the band over however long we were together. Nobody wanted to come back to it and have that memory diminished in any way."
However, no memories were diminished by the reunion. In fact, Bivins says those same feelings came back, and this time, they stuck around.
"When we got in the rehearsal room, pretty much immediately, it felt like — I don’t know to describe it, it sounds corny — but it felt like coming home," says Bivins. "We were with our brothers and we fell into all of the same routines we did except we had 10 years of life experience to share since then."
They loved it so much they decided to host a few more shows down the road.
One of those shows was at last April's High Water Festival, hosted by Bivins' former bandmate Cary Ann Hearst, now of Shovels & Rope fame.
"I first saw Cary Ann play in a bar downtown (now Burns Alley). I remember going to see her there. Her boyfriend at the time was the owner of the bar and she had a band called the Boonies ... talk about eclectic. It was Cary Ann, this guy named Mitch played banjo, and then there was a cellist and flute player. She blew my mind."
Bivins actually saw her perform for the Boonies' last show before breaking up. He jumped in at the right moment.
"After the show, I went up to her and said, 'Hi we’ve never met, but I’d like to be your drummer.' She was like, 'Cool. Who the hell are you?'"
That project was called the Borrowed Angels.
"I remember having so many conversations with Cary Ann," says Bivins. "One time, she was like, 'I don’t know about this whole music business thing. I just kind of wanna have kids and sing to them on the front porch.' And look at her now. Being at the High Water Festival was a very strong feeling of 'look how far they’ve come.'"
Back in the early music heyday when Hearst's and Bivins' paths crossed, the '90s were in full swing and Jump Little Children was about to become one of the most loved bands in the Lowcountry.
"First off, I want to say, I miss the '90s," says Bivins, feeling some nostalgia. "The '90s were a good time. It was a time where I feel like there was a window where eclecticism was embraced."
"We were art school kids. We didn’t really have a focus of 'this is the kind of band we are.' We were following our whimsy. We focused a lot on making sure our live performances were energetic and tried as hard as we could to give back to the people who came to see us as much as humanly possible."
That energy paid off, reeling in an excited and loyal local fan base that attended shows regularly. Even years later, it helped Jump Little Children sell out of their 2015 reunion show in just a few minutes.
"Our mom was an actor, and we grew up with a sense of kind of watching her on stage and I guess maybe growing up in the environment of people telling stories," says Bivins of him and brother/bandmate Matt.
"Maybe it gave us some kind of subliminal understanding of the importance of your audience and what you give to them. It’s the artist’s responsibility to make sure that they have the correct arc in the evening— the right amount of high energy, right amount of low energy. You’re kind of, in a very simple way, telling a story over the course of the night. We always strove to do that."
It all leads up to a two-night stint this year at the Charleston Music Hall with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra for New Year's Eve. Guitarist Jay Clifford has scored the band's songs, including two brand-new tracks that will be revealed during these shows.
Now, not only are the members of Jump Little Children ready to play new music. They're itching to release a new album.
"After doing a handful of shows this year, we came together and said, 'If we’re going to continue to do this, what would be the most compelling thing for us to do? To continue and play the catalog we have to the fans we’re fortunate to have or do we want to do something else?'" says Bivins.
"In 2015, we had this idea we were making a new record, but it was in the back of our minds. The end of this year, we decided we want to do something new. If I had to harbor a guess, I would say that in the winter this year, we will start trying to diligently fill out a record."
He adds, "I really, really, really want to work with our old friend Josh Kaler, a former Charlestonian who now lives in Nashville. I’ve been wanting to make a record with him for a very long time. Josh, if you’re listening, you’re hired."