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Drivin’ N Cryin’: Atlanta band gets infusion from Lowcountry

By Devin Grant
Special to The Post and Courier

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Drivin’ N Cryin’

For nearly three decades, the band Drivin’ N Cryin’ has been bringing its Southern-flavored brand of rock ’n’ roll to fans around the world.

If you go

What: Drivin’ N Cryin’ with Danielle Howle

When: Saturday; doors open at 9 p.m.

Where: The Windjammer, 1008 Ocean Blvd., Isle of Palms

Price: $15

For more info: 886-8596 or

The Windjammer

Started in Atlanta in 1985, Drivin’ N Cryin’ hit its stride a few years later when it released “Mystery Road” in 1989. That album, which featured radio singles such as “Honeysuckle Blue” and “Straight to Hell,” lit the fuse, while the follow-up album, 1991’s “Fly Me Courageous,” shot the band to stardom.

The band has continued to tour and release new albums, the latest of which, “Songs From the Laundromat,” was released in June.

Last year, the band received a shot in the arm courtesy of the Lowcountry when local guitarist Sadler Vaden joined the lineup. Vaden has proven to be a perfect match for Drivin’ N Cryin’, and Charleston Scene had a chance to talk to him, as well as founding member Tim Nielsen, about the history of the band and what the future holds.

Nielsen, who plays bass for the group, spoke by phone from his home in Mount Pleasant, and downplayed the band’s longevity.

“I don’t think you really think about long term when you’re 20,” said Nielsen, who counts “Mystery Road” as his favorite Drivin’ N Cryin’ album. “The band really jelled when Jeff Sullivan joined as drummer after we got signed to Island (Records).”

Nielsen relocated to Mount Pleasant from Atlanta last year just as Vaden was preparing to move to Nashville, Tenn., after the breakup of his band Leslie.

“We’d met Sadler while playing on a Lynyrd Skynyrd rock cruise,” explained Nielsen. “He was there performing with Blue Dogs, and he got on stage with us one night to play.

“He came to us last year as he was moving and said he’d like to work with us. Not too long after, our guitarist quit and we asked him to play a few shows with us. Then we asked him to join the band,” Nielsen said.

For Vaden, being asked to join meant a lot more than most folks realized.

“When I was 10, my parents took me to see The Who,” Vaden recalled. “Drivin’ N Cryin’ opened up for them, and they were amazing. They were on the radio all the time while I was growing up.”

Vaden also remembers playing with Drivin’ N Cryin’ on that rock cruise, as well as the events that led to getting asked to join the band.

“Tim had just moved to Mount Pleasant,” Vaden said, “and he asked me to give him a ride to Asheville (N.C.), where the band was playing. I gave him a lift, and ended up playing with them for half the show. Then Kevn (Kinney) asked me right then and there to come on the road with the band for a few dates. I said yes, but I had to go to Walmart to buy some socks and underwear because I thought I was just driving to Asheville and back.”

Nielsen has nothing but praise for Vaden as an addition to the band.

“He brings energy,” Nielsen said. “He’s a great guitar player. He’s a great person. He’s so bright and upbeat, even though he’s had some pretty heavy things happen to him in his life.”

Vaden seemed humbled by the praise.

“That’s flattering coming from someone who is in one of my favorite bands growing up,” he said. “I love music, and it’s all I know how to do. I’m fortunate to make a living and I try not to take it for granted.”

The band plans to release a new EP, “Songs About Cars and Space and The Ramones,” in September, and Vaden is working on his first solo album, which he hopes to have out later this fall.

Nielsen also said that the band is always working on new material, and it may continue to put out EPs every few months instead of full-length albums.

“People seem to have shorter attention spans these days,” Nielsen said. “I think it’s cool to write and record five songs and release them on an EP. It’s cheaper and faster than recording a full-length album.”

Nielsen and Vaden said that fans coming to the show Saturday at The Windjammer can expect a good, long rock ’n’ roll show with a lot of new material, but they also promise to play the hits.

“If you come up to the stage and yell out your favorite Drivin’ N Cryin’ song, we’ll probably play it,” Nielsen said.

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