Performance Friday, October 18, 2013 | 10 PM

The Lone Bellow

Zankel Hall
The Lone Bellow’s music is anchored in American folk, country, and gospel traditions, but the Brooklyn-based trio is more than a roots band. With songs that are introspective and inspiring, vocal harmonies that are crisp and clean, The Lone Bellow is one of a kind.

This concert is part of Late Nights at Zankel Hall.


  • The Lone Bellow

Event Duration

The program will last approximately 90 minutes with no intermission.


  • The Lone Bellow

    One fateful morning in 2010, Zach Williams, then a solo artist, asked fellow singer Kanene Pipkin, who had just returned to New York City from living in Beijing, to meet them and his friend Brian Elmquist at Dizzy's Diner in Park Slope, Brooklyn. With the beginnings of both a repertoire and a communal spirit that manifested instantly, that fateful morning they became The Lone Bellow.

    After a warm-up gig at Brooklyn's Roots Café, Williams got a call from The Civil Wars, the Grammy Award-winning duo that he'd befriended while they were playing at the Lower East Side's Rockwood Music Hall. They invited him and his new cohorts to open for them in Philadelphia-The Lone Bellow's first real performance. From there, Williams met with Civil Wars producer Charlie Peacock, taking him to the Rockwood to view the modest but well-regarded two-room venue that Williams had long considered his musical home. After touring the site, Peacock suggested that the band record its debut album there on location. Over the course of three days, he captured the spirit and the sound of the three closely harmonized individuals, both at their most confident and their most vulnerable.

    Born in Brooklyn, and with deep family and musical roots in the South, the fast-rising acoustic trio The Lone Bellow is proving, show by show, that the sounds and stories of Main Street resonate everywhere, winning fans across America and around the world.

    Hailed as one of the best albums of the year by People, The Lone Bellow's self-titled debut album has garnered praise from USA Today, The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, and the Associated Press. In addition to appearances on Conan and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, the trio recently completed a summer-long national tour of music festivals, as well as performances with such artists as Brandi Carlile, Robert Plant, and The Civil Wars.

    The Lone Below is exuberant in its playing, welcoming in its attitude. Though the lyrics have a melancholic undercurrent, the rhythm tracks are more rave-ups than ruminations, with swelling three-part harmonies and rousing group choruses, especially on the electric guitar-driven "The One You Should've Let Go" and "Green Eyes and a Heart of Gold," a we-will-survive anthem that could be about a family or a band. Indeed, the strong familial feel to The Lone Bellow stems largely from a recurring theme of inclusion. The results of the band's efforts have proven earnest, inspiring, and fun. Everyone listening-and undoubtedly singing and stomping along-are now feeling like family, too.

    More Info


You Never Need Nobody
The Lone Bellow
2013 Descendant Records

Jeff Tamarkin on The Lone Bellow

"I can't comprehend it, I really can't," Zach Williams says. "It's just insane. I'm scared to death, but in a good way." The lead singer and principal songwriter of The Lone Bellow is referring to his band's impending debut at Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall. Like any artist about to play the iconic venue for the first time, Williams is a jumble of both excitement and nerves. But it's only when one is familiar with the back story of this band and its "Brooklyn Country Music" that it's easy to understand why he adds that, "It's going to be very emotional for us."

Just short of a decade ago, performing wasn't even on Williams's radar. His wife had been in a debilitating accident and was initially diagnosed as a quadriplegic. As Williams visited her in the hospital every day, he began to keep journals of his thoughts and feelings—in rhyme. Friends, looking at his writings, suggested to Williams that he get a guitar and put them to song. He did, and when his wife miraculously recovered fully, the couple, along with a dozen or so friends, decided to move en masse from the South to Brooklyn. Williams ultimately teamed up with singer-mandolinist Kanene Pipkin and singer-guitarist Brian Elmquist, and an early incarnation of the band that would become The Lone Bellow was born. They worked their way up through the clubs in the ensuing years, added other members, were championed by fellow musicians like The Civil Wars and Robert Plant, released their self-titled debut album this year, and are now preparing for their Carnegie Hall debut. No wonder Williams is filled with emotion.

The Lone Bellow is now a well-polished, touring band, sporting rich, close harmonies and songs that ring true. The dozen tunes on The Lone Bellow (Descendant Records) reflect what Williams describes as "just a moment captured in my life: They're about tragedy, betrayal, redemption, hope—those four things."

Charlie Peacock, one of today's most in-demand producers within the Americana genre, recorded the album at Rockwood Music Hall with The Lone Bellow members playing in the room together (as opposed to separately in isolated studios—way records used to be made. There's an honesty and a naturalness pervading it, a familial feel—"basically storytelling music" is how Williams describes it.

Today, The Lone Bellow and their transplanted friends are still neighbors in and around Park Slope. Of course there are many other changes, not the least of which is the success they're finding: critical raves, appearances on late-night TV and major festivals. They've been through a lot, but they're too busy looking ahead to think back. "We've got our first headlining tour coming up and we're writing all the time," says Williams. "We all finally quit our day jobs, and we're ready to start walking through the process of figuring out the next record. We're just so grateful."

—Jeff Tamarkin is a veteran freelance music journalist.

Presented by Carnegie Hall in partnership with WFUV.
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