The Lone Bellow will close Spoleto Festival USA 2018 at "The Joe."
The venue might be different — Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park instead of Middleton Place — but the nationally known roots-rock music and fireworks will be familiar to regular Spoleto finale fans.
Sunday’s rain-or-shine concert will feature not one but two big acts: The husband-and-wife duo The War and Treaty will open for the Nashville-based The Lone Bellow.
Gearing up for the finale, and fresh off a two-month tour, Lone Bellow leader Zach Williams described his Americana Music Award-nominated sound as “kind of rock-and-roll/ethereal/storytelling kind of music.”
Storytelling is crucial, Williams said.
“I think lyrically we are kind of part of the American gothic type that is lyric based,” he said of the band, which also includes Kanene Donehey Pipkin and Brian Elmquist. “Our songs have specific characters about actual people in our lives.”
The Lone Bellow formed in New York City in 2011 but relocated to Nashville, where it recorded its most recent album, 2017’s “Walk Into a Storm.”
“We made the album with the producer Dave Cobb at the historic RCA Studios that Chet Atkins built back in the ’60s,” Williams said. “It’s actually the studio where that big Nashville symphony sound came from in the ’60s and ’70s, like the big Dolly Parton stuff and George Jones stuff.”
At a time when music streaming is redefining the music industry, a significant number of artists prefer to operate independently from big record labels. But Williams is optimistic about The Lone Bellow’s relationship with its label, Sony Music Masterworks.
“I think what we try to do is stay as honest to ourselves as we can,” he said. “We basically try to make music that we would want to listen to personally.”
Opening for The Lone Bellow will be The War and Treaty, a roots/soul/folk/gospel duo made up of Michigan natives Tanya Blout and Michael Trotter Jr. After enlisting in the military and being deployed to Iraq, Trotter, whose previous exposure to the piano had been exactly one lesson as a child, found sanctuary in a piano that had belonged to none other than Saddam Hussein.
“Once I got older and joined the army and went to war, I had an abnormal awkwardness about my presence there,” said Trotter, whose unit was stationed in one of Hussein’s former palaces. “When I was led to this piano, it served as a point of refuge for me.”
Trotter met Blout in 2010 after he left the military. The duo plans to follow its 2017 EP “Down to the River” with its first full-length album, “Healing Tide,” in August.
Basadi Dibeela is a Goldring Arts Journalist at Syracuse University.