Sally & George
w/ Sol Driven Train
Sat. Oct. 31
The singing duo Sally & George, a vagabond band on the verge of releasing its second LP, Take You on a Ride, has been making a name in the Americana world, traveling around the country and living out of a tour van.
The outfit is comprised of upright bassist Shelby Means, best known for her work with bluegrass band Della Mae, and guitarist Joel Timmons of Sol Driven Train. From a makeshift encampment in Wyoming, Means and Timmons told the City Paper about the first time they met and how their relationship continues to influence the new songs.
The couple gradually fell in love after solidifying their friendship at a not-so-chance encounter at Awendaw Green, Timmons said. “I was living in the area and I saw that Della Mae was coming,” he recalled. “I immediately called up [venue owner] Eddie White and said, ‘You’ve got to add me to the lineup for that show,’ and he did.”
After spending time with Means at the show, Timmons wrote a song for her, only to find out that she had a boyfriend. “It was funny because at first I thought he had a crush on one of the other girls in the band who was single,” Means said.
“We stayed in touch from afar, and we became more and more connected, until one day [Means] informed me that there were no longer any obstacles to us being together,” Timmons said.
There’s no doubt this husband-and-wife duo complement each other well as performing songwriters. Take You on a Ride is itself is a heartfelt song cycle written around the true story of what these artists have been up to in recent years. The band’s Nashville roots influenced the sound of the music, partially because it led to the formation of Sally & George.
“I didn’t move to Nashville with the goal of becoming a big star or anything,” Means said. “I just knew that I wanted to network and to meet people who were better musicians than me so that I could get better just by being around them and feeling challenged.” According to Means, that’s what led to her involvement with Della Mae, which, in turn, led to her collaboration with Timmons.
Their approach to songcraft in Sally & George doesn’t appear to be much different from how they build a tune for a full band. Even so, the couple’s easy dynamic on stage and in the studio has been compared to the Everly Brothers as well as June Carter and Johnny Cash.
The intimacy of their special partnership certainly shines through on the latest collection of tracks, unveiled on Oct. 30. And since Charleston is a community that is integral to their own story, it is not surprising that a careful listener can detect a plethora of local references in new songs such as “Intervention” and “Evacuate.”
Fittingly, right after the album drops, Sally & George will be in town to perform as part of Firefly Distillery’s Safe Sounds series on Oct. 31, opening for Sol Driven Train. They’ll then embark on a month-long Tuesday night deck residency at the Pour House beginning in early November.
The music business was a strange profession even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, in this day and age, and at this point in Timmons’ and Means’ careers, it is relatively easy for them to measure success.
“I’m really proud of the fact that we were able to produce this record ourselves and to get it out into the world,” Timmons said. “If it were to generate enough money for us to be able to make the next one, that would be success enough for me.”