Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a performance of SHEL and interview the four twenty-something Holbrook sisters at the Hotel Cafe in Hollywood, an esteemed Los Angeles live music destination that had been on my list of venues to check out for many years. When my music industry friend Angela suggested that I catch this performance of SHEL, I was totally unfamiliar with the band. I did my usual research for going out to hear a band for the first time by watching the SHEL YouTube channel, reading reviews on the SHEL website, and scrolling through their posts on the SHEL Facebook page (with 18,000 fans). Wow I thought to myself, I can't believe that I am just discovering these four young women for the first time. After seeing them perform, they were even better in person, then what can be seen on YouTube, as SHEL engaged a large enthusiastic audience within the confines of the Hotel Cafe. They have great stage presence and I got some good pictures of SHEL under difficult low lighting at Hotel Cafe and my many photographs hosted on flickr can be seen below:
I have conjured up the label of alt-Americana band to describe SHEL due to their unpredictability of their musical style when combining keyboard, fiddle, percussion (including a squeezebox), and mandolin that showcased sounds of irish/celtic, classical, alt-folk, americana, alt-country, and steam punk. These Holbrook sisters, Sarah, Hannah, Eva, and Liza, from Fort Collins, Colorado, now residing in Nashville, are in the recording studio for their second album, but it is a mystery as to the direction it might take. Frankly, I was blown away by these accomplished musicians and songwriters, as they very well could be the next big thing. It wasn't so long ago that Mumford and Sons were playing Hotel Cafe, and look at them now, and you could say that SHEL is what an all girls version of Mumford and Sons might be like.
Some writers have compared SHEL to the Dixie Chicks early in their career, but to me, SHEL reminds me of an all girls vocal version of the Punch Brothers, minus the esteemed sounds of Noam Pikelney's banjo. I do have to acknowledge, however, that in the second half of the concert, electric guitars were introduced into the mix, as can be seen in my photographs. As one gets to know, SHEL, one discovers that Eva is an extraordinary designer of hats. Thus, it is fun seeing what hat the Eva might be wearing that she designed. In their officially produced videos, many times, you will see all of the girls in specially designed hats by Eva. The hats are exquisite and quite fitting for their music,
What very well might launch the awareness of SHEL is being part of the soundtrack for the upcoming Nicholas Spark's Best of Me movie performing Hold On. The soundtrack album was released today, October 7, 2014 and the movie is scheduled for release on October 17, 2014. Appearing with SHEL on stage for the last song was Gareth Dunlop from Ireland who recently collaborated with SHEL on Hold On for the Best of Me movie. The song can be seen on YouTube as a duet with Gareth and Eva the night they wrote the song, On the Best of Me soundtrack album, they are appearing with many of my own favorites such as Lady Antebellum, Hunter Hayes, Colbie Caillat, and Kacey Musgraves. Being a fan of the soundtrack, could very well get me to see the movie. Incidentally, Gareth Dunlop opened for SHEL at the Hotel Cafe.
SHEL skipped the September 2014 Nashville Americana conference, awards, and performance week to perform in Claremont for the Levitt Pavilion stage and then the Hotel Cafe. I hope that their Pasadena sister Levitt stage noticed and might consider booking SHEL for summer 2015. Again, thank you Angela for recommending SHEL and I had a great time interviewing these four young talented women of SHEL which can be seen here in my eight minute and a half minute hosted on my trekntravel YouTube channel below.