By DeeAnna Haney • Smoky Mountain News Intern
Although Curly Hollow might sound like the perfect picnic area down some country road, it’s really more a product of imagination than a destination. In fact, the members of the band Curly Hollow aren’t even sure if such a place truly exists — the name simply resonated with them during their search for a title.
The country-pop band has come a long way since the members first met at a showcase in Nashville in July 2010. Now, less than a year later, members Keil Smith, Zakk Merrill, Charlie Lance, Chris Pruett and Ryan Riddle are celebrating the release of their first extended play record, “Love in Theory.”
Curly Hollow’s sound is mellow and modern at the same time, with a touch of many different musical styles. Each member contributes pieces from varying musical influences such as The Temptations, Jason Aldean, and Miles Davis.
“We try to blend different genres together – jazz, rock, country, blues – and just put our own twist to it and it’s fun that way,” said Zakk Merrill, the band’s bass guitarist.
Lead guitarist Charlie Lance tries to ensure the band’s sound stays original and fresh, not sticking with the same chord progressions in each song. He often incorporates what he learns while practicing for his jazz studies classes into songs for the band.
Most reminiscent of the sounds of Rascal Flatts, Curly Hollow’s songs have attracted traditional country music lovers as well as those who normally steer clear of the genre. The band believes they appeal to a wide variety of musical palettes because of the genre infusions and the passion behind each song.
“It’s one thing when you see a band get on stage but their hearts aren’t really in it,” Lance said. “But there is something cool to be said about seeing somebody do something they’re extremely passionate about and that’s what we try to do.”
Already signed to a Christian label before joining Curly Hollow, lead vocalist Keil Smith said he always harbored a penchant for country music. With an admittedly sappy songwriting style, Smith’s lyrics come directly from the heart.
Each member typically contributes to the songwriting process, although Lance has a difficult time putting his thoughts into words. His preference, he said, is to evoke emotion through his guitar.
“Love in Theory” is a collection of six original songs each exploring love in the best and worst forms, from falling in love to heart break. The EP features a satisfying sample of Curly Hollow’s various sounds such as the rock-and-roll duet with Ami Pruett “Home of Glass,” the simple acoustic guitar accompaniment to “Because,” and the traditionally country twang in “fairytale.”
Spectators attending a Curly Hollow show should expect a high-energy concert, Smith said, because the band is eager to play on stage for the first time. His hope is that the band’s chemistry and camaraderie will radiate through the songs.
“When a band does a good job on stage I feel like I know every member when I leave because they put so much into their performance and that’s what we want,” Lance said.
Visit www.reverbnation.com/curlyhollow or iTunes to preview Curly Hollow’s music.
See Curly Hollow at the Colonial
Curly Hollow will play its debut concert with opening act Rewind Blue at 6 p.m. Saturday, April 9, at the Colonial Theatre in Canton. A CD release party will follow the concert. Tickets are $7 and can be purchased at the Colonial Theatre or at Simple Taste Grill in Canton.