Sons of Bill: One Town Away (Repost)

I had originally posted about Sons of Bill earlier today… but that post was gobbled up by Blogger. That was only after the songs I provided were nixed by my file host,

I’m not sure why that happened since I’m 100% sure I had permission from the copyright holders to post songs from the album. I know the artist and their management had nothing to do with it. Outside of that, I know nothing.

I’m reposting the article here without the links to the songs. The only links I’m going to add to this post are the ones that direct you to the artist’s webstore where you can still purchase the album.

Hopefully, I’ll get this all figured out some way or another.

The story of how I was introduced to Charlottesville, VA’s Sons of Bill is an interesting one.About a year ago, I received free tickets to see Robert Randolph and the Family Band at a club here in Knoxville. I thought it was an exclusive show for staff and supporters of WDVX and a couple of other local radio stations. It was supposed to be a small, intimate show… I thought.

As it turned out, almost every media outlet in town was handing out free tickets like candy. Listener call ins, email blasts, free downloads… you name it. The small show became a giant, claustrophobic mass of humanity (and probably a fire code violation) as hundreds of people tried to cram into one tiny club to hear Randolph’s sacred steel guitar. It was way too much for my wife and I to handle. We left without hearing The Family Band play their first note.

The saving grace of the evening turned out to be the opening band, a group of guys from Charlottesville who I had never heard of before. The Sons of Bill are, quite literally, the sons of Bill Wilson (an associate professor of philosophical theology at UVA)… Sam, James, and Abe Wilson along with childhood friends Brian Caputo and Seth Green. I’ll admit to not expecting much from the opening act that night, but came away quite impressed. Bill’s boys caught my attention early with a rousing cover of Robbie Fulks’ “Let’s Kill Saturday Night,” and held it through the rest of the set with their own brand of straight forward, country flavored, southern rock. It was a great show.

I hadn’t heard anything from them since. They showed up in Knoxville once or twice after that, but I was never able to attend any more shows, and I couldn’t find their debut album anywhere in town. That’s why I was so pleased to see their sophomore effort One Town Away pop up in my inbox at ReviewShine.

The album doesn’t disappoint. Its twelve tracks are filled with heartbreak and informed by the sounds of Hank Williams Sr. and Townes Van Zandt (both of whom are namechecked on the album) as well as Steve Earle and Tom Petty. The album was tracked live in the studio with Grammy winning producer Jim Scott (Wilco, Kathleen Edwards, Dixie Chicks, Chuck Prophet) in less than two weeks immediately preceding Scott’s work on the new Wilco album.

The album succeeds in capturing that live energy that I fell in love with in that overcrowded bar in Knoxville. The five-piece band sounds like just that… a five piece band playing live on the record. The only outside presence is that of steel guitarist Greg Leisz (Todd Snider, Jonatha Brooke, Beck, Dave Alvin, etc…) who appears on four tracks. The result is a hard rocking album that is deeply rooted in country sounds and ideals. The songs are big enough that they wouldn’t seem out of place at an arena rock show… and authentic enough to be right at home coming from the stage of the smoke filled hometown bar.

Here (were) two of the more restrained tracks from the album. First is the opening track, the sombre elegy “Joey’s Arm.” The second is “Charleston,” a reflection on lost love, and one of the songs I remember from that show I saw last year. It sounds a lot better hearing it in the comfort of my home than it did that night when I was crammed in with a few hundred of my closest friends.

(Buy Album)

6 Responses to “Sons of Bill: One Town Away (Repost)”

  1. Thanks for the shoutout, Nelson! I've been enjoying these guys, too.

  2. Sam,

    I've been wanting to hear more from these guys for a while now. Good stuff.

    I just wish I could keep the songs up for people to listen to.

  3. Great post Nelson, I've been promised a copy of this album, really looking forward to it now.

  4. I once had my blog at blogger and my hosting with When I got my first takedown, the entire post disappeared. I moved my hosting, and my next takedown was different; this time, the offending song disappeared, but to other songs in the same post were fine, and the post stayed. and Blogger are both Google properties, so I think breaking that link made all the difference.

  5. Nelson, this is Seth from Sons of Bill. Thanks for the kind words. I'm glad you're enjoying the album. I don't know why the cyber police wouldn't let you post our stuff, but let your readers know that you can hear “Joey's Arm” and a few other tracks on the “Albums” tab of We'll be in Tennessee in September. I hope to see you there.

  6. Seth,

    Glad you liked the review. Wish it had stayed up in full. The trouble seems to be coming from some Euro agency… not anything you guys or your management did.

    I see your dates for Bristol and Nashville in Sept. Remember that you have to drive through Knoxville to get from one place to the other. Shoot me an email, and I can get you in touch with the guy who books our daily live concert series at WDVX.

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