Dark Hollow Band
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Dark Hollow Band

Oak Ridge, Tennessee, United States | SELF

Oak Ridge, Tennessee, United States | SELF
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"Dark Hollow Band/ Real Monsters Look Like Men"





I'm not sure if it's pure coincidence that the Dark Hollow Band claims their name originated from the street they lived on and that it's also the name of a Grateful Dead song. In “Silent Prayer”, the chorus talks about listening to the Dead. Coincidence or not, the Dark Hollow Band manages to be influenced by bands like the Dead, Bob Dylan, and Woodie Guthrie while still sounding original.

Real Monsters Look Like Men, the Dark Hollow Band's most recent release, is a CD that makes you feel like you're talking to a friend in person. Randall Wilkerson, the vocalist and lyricist, left a note inside the album letting the listener know that “this is a CD of stories”, adding that “thanks to love and hope, pain and suffering, greed, war and politicians there seems to be plenty to write about”. And that's what Wilkerson does – he makes candid, intelligent points about everything from pizza to politics without sounding condescending or silly.

The lyrics are important on Real Monsters, but the music is, too. Neither overpowers the other. Wilkerson employees a huge number of people to play with him, bringing in a wide array of instruments, including banjo, mandolin, flute, and fiddle. But the music isn't overdone; you never feel like there are too many instruments playing at once, or an instrument being played at the wrong time. The music blends in a way that lets you know all of the instruments are being played, from the subtle banjo and guitar strumming to the sometimes echoing mandolin or fiddle. Wilkerson obviously knows how to write music and produce a song, and it shows.

The lyrics tell the stories, though. “I read about a man who fought in the war in Iraq/well, he made it to the war alright/but got killed on the way back/the millionaire had it made till he lost his son/poor rich man shot himself with a twenty dollar gun”, Wilkerson sings in “Billy Went Fishin'”, a song with a haunting melody that brings Woodie Guthrie and older Bob Dylan material to mind. The band then jumps into “Saturday Night”, a light-hearted dance number, and then heads straight into “Silent Prayer”, an almost achingly sad slow song. Their refusal to stick with a certain type of song makes them excitingly interesting to listen to.

The Dark Hollow Band will inevitably find themselves compared to the Grateful Dead, even if a listener doesn't recognize the song title they use as a name. They have a similar style, but the Dark Hollow Band heads in a different direction than Dead cover bands. They're sure to find themselves compared to the Dead, but they shouldn't worry. They're too original to get overlooked.

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Abbey K. Davis – MuzikReviews.com Staff
December 31, 2009
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Abbey K. Davis - MusikReviews.com (Jan 4, 2010)
- MusikReviews.com


"Dark Hollow rocks on"

Singer-songwriter Randall Wilkerson has had some serious time to think about songwriting. After a divorce, in the early 1980's, Wilkerson spent three years living in a tent on a friend's property on Clinch Mountain.
"I trapped in the winter and fished in the summer," says Wilkerson. "That's when I started writing music. I just got off to myself." Wilkerson says that he was "disturbed how people are." "I just wanted to get away from it," says Wilkerson. "I'd come out to see my parents. Then I'd pick up a guitar and put music to my songs."
Wilkerson was coaxed from his"survivor" existence after meeting a certain woman in church.
"We married four weeks after we met," says Wilkerson. "It was just like that, and I never looked back."
A decade later, the Dark Hollow Band came together around Wilkerson's songs. With two self released albums to the group's credit, the Dark Hollow Band has been performing at local clubs and been added to a few regional fesitvals. The music like a sort of communal folk rock. Some of the seven members have learned thier instruments on the run.
Wilkerson says his attitude is this: "Wanna make a cd? What do you play? Nothing? Grab that guitar ang let's go!" Bassist Rod Erwin, who joined the act in 2003, says that he was drawn to the group because of the members' dedication and spirit.
"It's an unlikely group of people," says Erwin, a retired welding inspector. "But these guys worked hard to put something together and they had good messages in thier songs."
Dark Hollow (named after the Union County road where Wilkerson lives) came together in 2000 when Wilkerson, who was just leaving a band, met multi-instrumentlist John Gillespie. Gillespie loved Wilkerson's songs - as did other musicians who quickly signed on.
The band members know that being middle-aged rockers performing original material is not always an easy sell. However, the band has landed airplay on WDVX radio and is gaining fans the hard way.
"Once we get in," says Wilkerson"we win people over."
"It's to our advantage to be older: We're not on drugs. We're easy to get along with and we have learned a lot of things that younger people don't know."
The band does perform a handful of non-original numbers, but Wilkerson has a standard reply
for audience members who want a program of cover songs.
"If they want to hear covers," he says, "I tell them to go listen to the radio." 2/27/2004 Wayne Bledsoe - Knoxville News Sentenial


"Folk & Roll has a wonderful sound"

Some days we are luckier than others. I found myself thinking that as I sat across my desk from the creative force behind Dark Hollow Band. Randall Wilkerson and John Gillespie were kind enough to stop by for an 'interview' the other day.
I used the term loosely since we just just sort of talked about thier music, the music scene in Knoxville and a host of other subjects on thier collective minds.
Dark Hollow Band is a nine member group whose musical style has been described as electric bluegrass, acoustic rock, americana and my personal favorite Folk & Roll. I have listened to thier cds and thier style is reminiscent of sixties rock and roll, the descriptions fit. Bluesy guitar riffs, mandolin, flutes and the whine of a occasional harmonica chord blend well with the vocals talents of Wilkerson.
Wilkerson is the creative genius behind Dark Hollow Band. His father, Roy Wilkerson, was a regular on such local musical shows as Cas Walker and Mull's Singing Convention. "I didn't think I had any musical talent" says Wilkerson. "I never could get music the way they taught it in school." But the talent runs deep in this musician. It's apparent when you meet him. It's in his eyes. Eyes that have a wisdom and understanding beyond his years.
Wilkerson started recording songs after an illness. He wanted to record all the songs that were in him in case he didn't recover. A legacy to all those in his life and those who, hopefully, benefit from his lyrics and his haunting melodies. His songs just come to him.
He started writing his songs at the age of 23. "I had a spirtual re-awakening of sorts. I went into the mountains to live. That's when I wrote." Wilkerson lived in the mountains for three years, in a tent, alone. He trapped for a living and lived on ten dollars a week. "I came into town on the weekends. I would visit my parents, attend church and then I would go back. Friends would come visit sometimes."
In July of 2000 Wilkerson and Gillespie formed Dark Holow Band. Whie getting his music recorded was the impetus for Wilkerson, Dark Hollow Band's music is about dealing with human emotions, real life situations, hopefulness. "A spirituality. a getting rid of hate that is apparent in so much of today's mainstream music." states Gillespie. "We have persons that are cancer victims who listen to our music everyday. They tell us it brings them peace." Gillespie continued.
Thier visit wasn't just about thier band. They wanted everyone to know that the Bijou is alive and they along with other groups and production companies, are trying to keep it that way. Both Wilkerson and Gillespie agree the acoustics at the Bijou are sublime and the intimacy of the house makes it the perfect setting for performing.
Dark Hollow has three albums recorded. They will have one on the market soon on the BMI label.
The others they have recorded at thier own production company, Fire Pony Production and Sound Studio.
My advice would be to get to the Bijou for one of Dark Hollow's performances. You'll get to hear great music from a stage built 'when they knew how to build them' (before electric amplification) You'll be thinking it's your lucky day
Sandra Van Winkle 8/25/2004 - Fountain City Focus


"Reviews from around the world"

Dark Hollow Band: Press/Reviews

A group whose musical style has been described as electric bluegrass, acoustic rock, americana, and my personal favorite, folk and roll. I have listened to their cd, and their style is reminiscent of sixty's folk and rock and roll, the descriptions fit. Bluesy guitar riffs, mandolin, flute and the whine of the occasional harmonica chord blend with the vocal talents of Wilkerson.

Sandra Van Winkle - Fountain City Focus

There's something about the music made by Dark Hollow Band that folks find irresistable. Even if they are wallflowers, even if they're stuck with two left feet, they find themselves getting up and grooving to the country-soul shuffles the band makes wherever it plays.

Steve Wildsmith - The Daily Times

When the inspirational spirts of Jimmi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Jimmy Buffet, Creed, Willie Nelson and The Monkeys met with the soul of country music a new Knoxville Band was formed - Dark Hollow Band.
Just when you think you've figured out their style, they sing another song that surprises you. While inspired by other musicians, they are not quite like anyone else.

Becky Blanton - The Knoxville Journal

Dark Hollow Band rocks on . . .

Wayne Bledsoe - Knoxville News Sentinal

How 'bout that Dark Hollow Band- a little blues, a little rock, a little folk - a little bit of everything.

John Hill - Anderson County Gossip

Something moved inside me
Guitars sound nice and the melody is enjoyable. The background instrument (harmonica?) fitted the musical theme excellently. You sing like an old man with years of experience. The words are well sung.

First verse was so full of clichés that I almost stopped listening. I sure am glad I didn't because the song really begins at the second verse and the third verse already brought tears to my eyes. And getting to the end I realized what the first verse could've meant ... so the gamble paid off eventually for the benefit of the song.
Reviewed by: jimbow4 from Lohja, Uusimaa, Finland

- garageband.com review (Sep 14, 2008)

Very listenable
Good sound, a quality vocal sits in front a of a nice simple accompaniement. Very listenable indeed, I love the hook, poor white trash like me, I get the feeling this guy may have lived the life. thanks for the listen.



- gerrybhoy
Edinburgh, Scotland
August 7th, 2008

- garageband.com review for "Weight of the World" (Aug 19, 2008)

Gentle and true
Very nice, slow and deliberate. Wise words simple and strong. I've been listening to lots of rock and this is like coming home, back to the root of things. Lovely lyrics. I could listen to this again and again. 'People in love are crazy, lazy welfare, nice lyrics and well mixed up for the second verse. I like it. Love the guitar which is recorded well and the minimalist backing from the harmonica?
Reviewed by: Tony Peek from Hastings, East Sussex, United Kingdom

Nice
It’s simple and plain and the lyrics are . . . not. Its feels like you are taking good care of the old traditional storytelling music. It takes a special skill to tell a story this way and get the listener to “hook”, so that he or she just cant stop listening until the last tone rings out. You got that skill! Its great! Thanks!
Reviewed by: GregorJ from Uppsala, Sweden

- garageband.com reviews for "Weight of the World" (May 21, 2008)

Very classic folk
I am not much of a folk listener. But this song has some deep vocals about working in coal mines, a very folk-Appalachian theme. The lyrics can be heard very easily with these clean vocals and the listener can really pick up the feeling in the lyrics about the hardships for lower income groups, but with a mild conservative element calling people on "welfare crazy", but simultaneously stating that "insane people are free". The difference between the crazy and the insane is never shown, but it could imply that being attached to the government is a form of insanity and insanity is the only way to be free. Honestly, only the artist knows, and songs stay better when we all keep thinking.

- mattiajbllitz - garageband.com review for "Weight of the World" (Aug 18, 2008)
- Dark Hollow Band website


"F.A.M.E. Review"

Real Monsters
Look Like Men
Randall Wilkerson &
The Dark Hollow Band
Available from CD Baby.
A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker
(progdawg@hotmail.com).
I find a hell of a lot in Randall Wilkerson that I find in Bruce "Utah" Phillips: vast social concern, black and grey visions, searing indictments often in deceptively ground level observations, and a love for a populist approach to musicmaking. The core sextet ensemble is augmented by a number of sessioneers colluding to make a sound as deeply lamentive as the group's appellation indicates: dark. Add Guthrie and Seeger to the list of references too 'cause Wilkerson's no-nonsense about his socialistic tendencies, though he refrains from putting them in quite that domain specifically.
However, as versus Utah Phillips, Wilkerson and the boys loves them a good rock oriented progression as well as a jam or two, and boy howdy! Listen to Dave Patterson's great electric lines in Nothin' but Lies, especially the raga tinged solo amidst a cookin' groove that the old San Francisco psychsters (Garcia, Cipollina, Hopkins, etc.) would've killed for, and you'll see pree-cise-ly what I mean, JimBob. That track's followed by the Dylanesque Only Love, reminiscent of when Bob recruited The Band, a quiet ode to the bonds love creates and very nicely offset by Wilkerson's raw-ish voice. Chris Vorhees shows his indispensible part in the band here and elsewhere, in his acoustic leads, Tom Bates backing him up on mando and dobro.
Real Monsters Look Like Men is a down-home CD by an ensemble much deserving of a really experienced production hand. Wilkerson and engineer Bryan Lay do a fine job but Monsters needs a top shelf pro in order to polish up the band's sound and fineries to a spit-shine. I have absolutely no quarrels with any aspect of this great disc, but when I hear Billy Went Fishin'", a track dripping with sophistication and layers, I just hafta hunger for a bit more of the major label treatment. It's a cut worthy of inclusion in a movie soundtrack, and attention to every atom of imagery and soundfield staging could only make it a monster. And, really, that's the sum total of my criticisms: get these guys in a top flight studio and you'll have a CD to stand alongside Pinecastle, Rural, Rounder, and all the truly great labels that make your mouth water just in the technical aspects. Then there's the killer content, and Wilkerson wrote every damn one of these gems.
Ya might wanna also notice that, in the myriad names of the monsters he's lyrically referring to, a Hell's Hall O' Fame inscribed in circles on the disc itself, he includes Cheney, Bush, Alberto Gonzales, and other real-life bastards along with the whimsical (Dr. Octopus, the Flying Glove & the Blue Meanies, etc.) and a name or two a few Lefties probably will object to (Lenin and Hoffa), but if you know your true history, you'll know why they're there.
I likes me a freethinker, I does.
Track List:
· Makin' Pizza· Better Way· All My Life· Voices Ragin'· Weight of the World· Nothin' but Lies · Only Love· Billy Went Fishin'· Saturday Night· Silent Prayer· Real Monsters Look like Men· Roll Home
All songs written by Randall Wilkerson.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
(dnpyles@acousticmusic.com)

Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
- Peterborough Folk Music Society


Discography

American Dream - 10 songs

Folk & Roll - 12 songs

Children Of The Fire - 13 songs

Same Planet Different Worlds - 11 songs

Real Monsters Look Like Men - 12 songs - released June, 2009

Photos

Bio

When he was a child they said he was touched in the head; but the wisdom hidden discreetly within the lyrics written by Randall Kent Wilkerson prove otherwise. Born July 16, 1958, he was raised in the hills of East Tennessee and grew up living experiences that most people only read about. Through his travels and trials of life come music and lyrics that grip the heart of young and old.
"Seems Like It Is (But It Ain't)" could not be a simpler melody, yet it has the most compelling lyrics --" The world's like a dream where things ain't what they seem/the colors and numbers get jumbled/'till the birds in the trees are all singin' off key/and the voice in your heart only mumbles."
Every song is a little story of life as seen through Randall's heart. His music has all of the hope, love, pride, forgiveness and guilt that we experience as humans, but also offers humor in the everyday world -- "and it said on the city limit sign/if you've lost your mind/then, welcome home" (Three Cheers for Loneliness).
As a self taught musician/artist, he has developed his own style that crosses the borders into all genres of music. Many of his songs are still being sung in local area churches. People will walk up and just hug his neck and tell him which song they like best (he's written around 300). His fan base seems to be just about all types of people.
"Hell's a good place, when Heaven is burning." Often the words challenge the listener to consider their own mortality and existence in this crazy world and then will turn around and make light of it.
Simply put, Randall Wilkerson has put life to music; and the message is . . . Love.

- Michelle Beffre