Drew and Ellie Holcomb Get Back to their Roots
Bijou Theatre | March 23rd, 24th, 25th | 8 p.m.
Drew and Ellie Holcomb’s story as a duo span a few decades. Drew and Americana band, the Neighbors, released their first album in 2005 and have been performing ever since. Ellie, who played with the Neighbors from 2012 to 2019, has since gone on to become a well-known name in Christian music. But amidst all the success, they still come back together each year to tour as a duo, keeping the Marble City forever on their list of stops. With a new single together, and a new take on their annual tour, the Holcombs are ready to bring East Tennessee three nights of folk-rock bliss.
Cityview: Tell us about your new single, “Bones.”
Drew Holcomb: Every line is like a photograph. I really wanted a song that was a back and forth between Ellie and I, that captured all the idiosyncrasies of a relationship and how people see each other through these light-hearted metaphors. And when I played it for Ellie, she just fell in love with the song and got it immediately.
CV: What does that creative process look like?
DH: People assume that we write a lot of songs together. But I bet over our careers, we’ve probably written fewer than 10 or 12 songs together. We create very differently, so it takes a lot of work for us to actually sit down and finish a song. Ellie’s melody first; I’m lyric and narrative first. We didn’t write a single song together for about six or seven years, so it’s been fun to kind of get back in the habit of that.
CV: What can folks expect from the tour this year?
DH: We wanted to kind of slow it down this year. So we thought, let’s pick six cities and specifically six venues that we really love. They might be places that we’ve outgrown if we’re playing in a city for one night, but if we stay for a couple nights, it makes sense to sort of camp out there. The Bijou has been a huge part of our story from the beginning—and it’s one of my top five favorite venues. We had kind of outgrown it—we now play at the Tennessee [Theatre], which is also an incredible venue—but we thought if we stripped this tour back to its origins, which is just the two of us, we can play these rooms and every night can be different. Between our separate careers and our career together, we have well over 140 songs to choose from. Just the two of us on stage, a lot of storytelling, a lot of fun.
CV: For our readers who might not know about your beginnings here, can you fill them in?
DH: Ellie and I met in Knoxville. We were both students at UT. I started a music career shortly thereafter; she was teaching at Fulton High School in her graduate program. That’s when we got engaged, and I convinced her to move to Nashville. Knoxville was one of the places I was playing pretty often. I was playing at Barley’s, Downtown Grill, Preservation, New City Cafe. But the Bijou was the goal venue at the time. It was probably 2008 when we first played it. Since then, for a decade, we played the Bijou almost every year. It’s been a very important place for us, one of the places where we felt our success in a way that gave us a vision for continuing to do this and making more music. It became a home venue for us.
CV: What are you looking forward to being able to do together in the three days you’re in Knoxville?
DH: Knoxville is one of the cities we’re bringing the kids—Ellie’s brother and his family live in Knoxville—so we will have a lot of cousin time when we’re there. We’ll go to some of our favorite places to eat. We may take the kids to the national park one day and show our kids the places we used to go and enjoy when we were in college.
Tickets to the show can be found at knoxbijou.org.