Worth the Whistle Stop

Sol Driven Train coasts the grade into Saluda to play the Purple Onion.

Sol Driven Train coasts the grade into Saluda to play the Purple Onion.

They’re one of those Southern bands whose humid grooves slither through so many genres it’s hard to peg them, exactly. That’s why Charleston, SC-based Sol Driven Train uses a zany Tom Robbins quote on their website in the place where most groups reveal their biography.

And it fits, because of the non-sequitur antics of their on-stage persona, which includes costumes, instrument hopping, and general latter-vaudevillean energy.

The jammy sextet is in its 15th year and still grinning, laying down a wall of sound with reggae and New Orleans-style funk as the hard-thumping top notes. A festival favorite, the act claims, in a press quip, that “though the venues have grown, the amps have gotten louder, the lineup has evolved, and the crowds have multiplied, the sense of brotherhood, mutual support, and brotherhood within the band has strengthened.”

Sol Driven Train has shared bills with such unimpeachable acts as Bruce Hornsby and the late Levon Helm, collecting a truly impressive 13 awards (four of them national) in just the last three years. Seemingly tireless, the band can boast 10 independent releases and more than 1,000 shows.

They’re back by demand at the Purple Onion in Saluda (16 Main St.), playing Sunday, August 9. This is a great chance to catch a major band in an intimate venue, especially if the hyper, foamy festival scene just isn’t your jam.

 August 9, 7 pm. Call 828-749-1179 for details. www.soldriventrain.com, www.purpleonionnc.com

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