Connor Christian and Southern Gothic to perform Aug. 1 on Hilton Head Island

pdonohue@beaufortgazette.comJuly 31, 2013 

Connor Christian

  • IF YOU GO

    WHEN: 8 p.m. Aug. 1

    WHERE: The Big Bamboo Cafe, Coligny Plaza, Hilton Head Island

    COST: Free

    DETAILS: www.bigbamboocafe.com

Inspiration for a hit song can come from anywhere -- including witnessing a pair of septuagenarians make out in the middle of New Orleans' French Quarter.

But it was that rather public display of affection that was the impetus for Connor Christian, the namesake of Atlanta country rock band Connor Christian and Southern Gothic, to write "Sheets Down," a song that shot to the top of Billboard Heatseekers chart earlier this year and whose video has been in heavy rotation on CMT.

"After seeing this kiss, and kiss is putting it politely, I ran into these two people at a bar near Bourbon Street and I had been overserved so I felt the courage to go up and ask them what the story was behind that kiss," Christian said. "Turns out, they were celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary that weekend and that was the spot where they met 47 years earlier.

"I had this image in my head of them as 25 instead of 75, as this beautiful young couple in love," he added. "I sat down and in three minutes, I had written all the lyrics to that song. It was done. The song was about that couple."

Connor Christian and Southern Gothic, whose third full-length album, "New Hometown," rocketed into the Top 20 of Billboard's Top Country Albums chart when it was released in March will perform two sets Aug. 1 at The Big Bamboo Cafe on Hilton Head Island.

The band will perform alongside island favorites Cranford & Sons as part of the club's three-night 18th anniversary celebration.

Christian discusses Nashville, who he would most like to open for and staying independent.

Question. When "New Hometown" was released, it sold 5,000 copies in the first week and entered the Billboard chart. Did you expect that?

Answer. It was pretty wild but we have a big fan base who had been hearing these songs for close to three years and so when the album was about to come out, we made a plea to our fans to help us chart on Billboard and the response was incredible. We had people buying one copy for themselves and two or three for their friends or family and we were able to make that happen. It dropped off pretty quickly but we've been opening for Corey Smith, Styx, ZZ Top and Big and Rich and whenever we play big shows like that, the album will re-enter the chart for a week or two. The record seems to be making an impression on people and it continues to spread by word of mouth and that's been really fun to see.

Q. Did the band's process for "New Hometown" differ from your two previous LPs?

A. I wouldn't say it differed greatly, but it was the first album that I really spent a lot of time writing with other people. Of the 20 songs on the disc, 18 on the physical disc and two digital extras, I wrote 10 and two were covers. The rest I wrote with Jeff Spirko, who is in our band, Stuart Oliver, who I've known a long time, and Channing Wilson. I would say working with Jeff came the most naturally. We work really well together and have already started on some stuff for our next album. Don't be surprised if a lot of the songwriting credits on our next album are "Christian, Spirko."

Q. All three of your previous LPs have been released on independent labels, do you plan on staying indie?

A. I wouldn't mind going to a major label but it would have to be a label that gets our band and what we do. That's a tall order. I mean, we're not going to highlights and get all shiny to Nashville ... because that's not who we are. We're a rock'n'roll band. Some people get confused because they come to our show and they see the fiddle and banjo and mandolin and think we're a country band, but we're a more rockin' band than a lot of rock bands out right now. We're not pretty country. We're gritty.

Q. As you mentioned, you've already opened for some pretty big acts, are there any other bands or artists that you'd love to go on tour with?

A. Eli Young Band is doing some really fun stuff and have a really rockin' live show. John Fogerty is back on the road and that would be huge for me personally because I'm such a fan. I mean naturally, you want to go out with people whose work you really admire, and Brandi Carlisle would top that list for me and so would Jason Isbell. I mean, I really admire Jason's ability to be so honest and so open in his music. That would be something incredible to see night-in and night-out.

Follow reporter Patrick Donohue at twitter.com/IPBG_Patrick.

Video for Connor Christian and Southern Gothic's "Sheets Down"

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