Americana band Driftwood returns to N.C.

Group braved snowstorm for Motorco show tonight
Feb. 15, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

If you go see Americana band Driftwood band perform tonight at Motorco Music Hall in Durham, be appreciative of what they braved to be here: a snowstorm. The Binghamton, N.Y.-based band began their tour last week in the Adirondacks, and then drove on to Pittsburgh in a 15-passenger van through snow that turned a nine-hour drive into an 18-hour one. But still, they made it in time for the show. The band tours frequently and has performed in the Triangle before, in particular three attention-getting performances at the Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival.
Fiddle player Claire Byrne joined the band five years ago because of a tour. She was touring with the folk duo Nate and Kate, who were mutual friends of pre-Byrne Driftwood, and got a ride with Driftwood.
“We think it was a band blind date,” she said by phone this week on the road in Baltimore, Md. “We hit it off right away, played on stage right away. They asked me to join and I was really excited,” Byrne said.
Byrne is classically trained on the violin. In college, she became frustrated with the rigorous classical education of “black and white, yes and no, rigid education. That’s what classical music is, and is open to interpretation, but only the tip of the iceberg,” she said. She started getting into fiddle music in part because of her Irish heritage and spent time jamming to a different style. Driftwood is an Americana band with, as its most recent album title shows, “A Rock & Roll Heart.”
Byrne has meshed her classical background with the band’s sound. She didn’t struggle much with the switchover, she said. It was letting go of the rules she knew, “but if you just dive in and immerse yourself in fiddle music, it comes naturally.”
The violin/fiddle player enjoys having a classical background. She teaches, and it’s important for students to know their scales and have that foundation, she said, then they can throw them out the window. Sometimes Byrne misses playing with an orchestra, but playing with the band is a different kind of musical freedom.
“Sometimes you get these magical moments, and we look at each other like ‘Did that just happen?’” she said of performing on stage.
Fellow band members Joe Kollar (banjo, vocal, drums, organ, guitar) and Dan Forsyth (guitar, vocals) are the primary writers for Driftwood. Jon Doll plays upright bass. Kollar and Forsyth bring a song to the group and they’ll all discuss it, work out the kinks and add parts, Byrne said. “Everybody puts their two cents in,” she said.
The Motorco show will include a lot of songs from “A Rock & Roll Heart” as well as a lot of new stuff. Driftwood is working on a new album. “Americana” is a broad musical description, Byrne said. There’s some folks, rock and roll and indie aspects to Driftwood.
“The show is kind of all over the map,” she said.
Watch their official video for “A Rock & Roll Heart” at
and a recording of a 2011 performance of “Love Is” at


WHO: Driftwood with Mipso and Honeychile
WHEN: 8 p.m. today
WHERE: Motorco Music Hall
723 Rigsbee Ave., Durham
TICKETS: $8 advance/$10 at the door