When Delta Rae was just getting started in 2010, the band would drive up to New York City every month to perform. Six years later, they returned to the Bowery Ballroom in May with 2 acclaimed records in hand and a third one in the works. But as one song ended, every band member but one left the stage. For a casual fan, it was just typical choreography to signal a solo was coming up. But for someone who has followed the band for years, there was more than the smell of weed in the air when the lone spotlight shined on Eric Hölljes.
“It’s time for us to be just a little bit honest with our fans and the people who have followed us for so long."
Anything could have followed but my gut knew it had to do with the future of the band and my gut was telling me the party was over.
"I’ve never talked about the meaning of this song until this tour....We were on the doorstep of breaking up."
Keeping a band together is no small feat. Taylor Swift is making a killing on $0.99 downloads but that's about it. For the rest, it takes touring and not like Springsteen touring. Most bands drive their own van from town to town with their trailer in tow carrying their most expensive belongings and praying they'll see familiar faces somewhere in the sold out crowds. For every E Street Band, there are thousands of aspiring musicians who are trying to figure out how to make a living doing what they love. They crash on couches, meet their loyal fans, and post behind-the-scenes photos to build fandom on social media. And when the cheering stops, they say their goodbyes, load their trailers, and head to the next town to do it all over again.
"I’m in the band with my brother and my sister and that’s a very important relationship to me. And then the struggle that you can go through while you're in a band can be really challenging. So anyway, I wrote this song in the midst of that struggle."
Brother Ian Holljes takes a turn front and center as the band backs him up.
I have a group of favorite bands that I would run away with. Bands that work tirelessly on stage, exposing raw emotions that elevate their music to a mystical level. Bands that go from zero to 100 and back to zero within a four minute song. Bands with whom, during the course of a live show, I turn to no one in particular and say out loud, "Do you see this, DO YOU SEE WHERE THEY JUST WENT?!!"
Delta Rae is one of these bands. They perform as a family, perhaps because half its members are a family. But more than that, they have genuine love for one another. No one member is the star; they take turns singing lead vocals on songs that highlight their unique voices and personalities. Their music is all about relationships, the personal ones and the ones we have with our country. Their lyrics help navigate from our pasts to the sense of hope for our futures.
Brittany Holljes and Liz Hopkins belt out the harmonies as Delta Rae brings down the house at The Bowery Ballroom.
New York City
May 2, 2016
When the song was over, Eric's bandmates walked back on stage one by one, smiling. It wasn't clear who was more relieved, the musicians or their loyal fans.
Fan: "Liz, we’re glad you didn’t break up!"
Liz- "Eric decided to let us back in the band, we’re grateful."
Watch Eric Holljes describes how Delta Rae was "on the doorstep of breaking up" as he sings "The Meaning Of It All."
So. Are. We.
Holding On To Good
by Ted Canova