Lynne Holcombe – Banjo Pickin’ Songstress with a Heart
After about a decade bringing her brand of banjo-fueled indie-folk music to all corners of the continental United States, Lynne Holcombe once again makes Greenville, SC her home. The itch to sing in and see new places has taken her far and wide: from Loyola University in New Orleans to the hills of Virginia, from the Sunshine State to a summer camp in the Pacific Northwest.
Coming from a “somewhat” musical family, Holcombe’s musical wanderings began at an early age, with piano lessons. She cites her father as one of her primary musical influences.
“My dad played trumpet,” she relates. “He played in the Clemson marching band and was really into it. He probably would have liked to have continued to be a musician but he’s also an engineer and that’s the direction he went in. But my dad has one of the biggest record collections I’ve ever seen. It’s really impressive and I listened to all kinds of music when I was little because of that. That’s still pretty much what I do whenever I hang out with my dad. I listen to his albums.”
At Loyola, she earned her degree in Music Therapy. It was there that she started learning the guitar, a required course for her major. From guitar it was a short walk to the banjo.
“I just really loved writing songs on the guitar but then I would go to song circles and play around the fire and there’d be all these dudes that could play guitar really good so I felt like it was pointless for me to play but I wanted to have something I could play along with. I like to sing a lot. But I’d get annoyed that whenever I told a guy that I could play music they’d say ‘oh are you a singer?’ I need to have an instrument. So I started learning banjo because it was a different sound that I could play and bring to campfires and stuff.”
She returned to the Upstate for a while to complete an internship, and while there she holed up at her grandparents’ lakehouse determined to learn the banjo for real. Armed with her sister’s banjo and a Mel Bay method book, she “decided to do [her] own little version of Walden. I stayed for a couple of weeks and just taught myself how to play banjo. Much later, a couple of years ago, I took some lessons. But I’d already been playing about seven years at that point.”
Holcombe’s latest release, Songs from a Book of Memories, is her fifth album of her own songs.
“I’ve done 4 home studio recordings,” she says. “I think the first one of those was in 2004. That was actually a tape. And then I recorded one in LA in a friend’s hallway. And then there’s one in Virginia, and I recorded another one in Berkeley. Those are all Clide vs. Crocodiles, my old solo-project name.”
Recorded at Sit ‘n’ Spin Recording Studio in Greenville, her new collection was conceived last year as she compiled over 60 songs for copyright.
“I chose 13 songs to focus on and dig my heels into making these arrangements for them and finding musicians to work with. I don’t have a band but I kind of put together a band for the album. Matt Morgan was the engineer,” she says, “but I was the producer. This CD definitely has the highest caliber of musicianship on it, from myself but also from the musicians that I gathered. They’re all really professional, wonderful musicians. Not to say that the others weren’t, but these people are more doing music for their professional career than ones I’ve worked with in the past.”
Her latest project is called Shadowband. Besides her lovely songs and lively banjo picking, the new band features shadow theatre – backlit silhoutted imagery projected on a screen and loosely illustrating her songs.
Lynne Holcombe’s Shadowband, along with T.C. Costello and Wood Spider, will perform next Tuesday, December 17 at Garaj Mahal in Greenville.