Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Preview: Folk starlets Briscoe to perform at Druid City Music Hall

Courtesy of Philip Lupton

Last May, Philip Lupton and Truett Heintzelman graduated together from the University of Texas at Austin.

This fall, they hit the road on their first headlining tour as folk-rock duo Briscoe, promoting their debut album, “West of It All.” Lupton and Heintzelman spoke with The Crimson White about their young careers and upcoming show at Druid City Music Hall on April 4.

“Touring is a relatively new thing for us,” Heintzelman said. “In college we did a few little stints. … We really didn’t get to properly hit the road until this fall … but we’ve been playing together and good friends for a while, just started taking it a little more seriously in college and then set everything up to where as soon as we graduated we could hit the road.”

Lupton and Heintzelman’s partnership began when they were teenagers. The pair became fast friends at a summer camp and first performed together at the camp talent show, covering John Prine’s “Paradise.” Despite living in different towns, the two remained connected and reunited at UT Austin years later. Their storied friendship has given them a unique chemistry, both in the studio and onstage.

“I think just the fact that we’ve played together for so long now … gives us the confidence to move around the stage or have certain bits of the set that are super fun because we can play off of each other really well,” Lupton said. “It just gives us the confidence to have a bit more fun with it.”

Despite its inexperience as a headliner, Briscoe is prepared to bring that chemistry to Tuscaloosa. It’s also excited to share its unique musical blend of country and folk with a new audience.

“A term we have kind of started using to describe our music is ‘Texas folk,’” Heintzelman said. “We want to make sure that we are walking the line between folk and country and leaning more toward folk. We, by nature, are not a country band, but we’d be lying if we said there wasn’t some level of country influence. … I mean, that’s the music a lot of us grew up on.”

Though Alabamians may be familiar with their own country and folk music, Heintzelman explained that Briscoe’s sound is unique to Texas and the West. He said that when he thinks of Tennessee, Georgia or Alabama folk music, he envisions more of a bluegrass feel and said that Billy Strings from Tennessee is a great example.

“I think that is also considered folk, but in reality his [Billy Strings] style of music is pretty different from ours,” Heintzelman said. “They’re picking their instruments at a hundred miles an hour and are some of the best musicians on the planet. And I feel like in today’s world, up in the Northeast, a guy like Noah Kahan is kind of the poster child for Northern folk music now. Stylistically, I think there is some good difference between our music and his. … A lot of Noah Kahan’s songs feel influenced by growing up in the North, in the cold.”

As Heintzelman referenced, it’s not just sonic palettes that change from place to place. In folk music, songwriting shifts go hand-in-hand with instrumental changes. Lupton discussed how Briscoe’s songwriting is heavily influenced by the Texas Hill Country.

“The Hill Country of Texas and West Texas and the places that we love to spend our time outdoors influenced a lot of our songs just because that’s where most of the memories that we make are made,” Lupton said. “I think that a lot of our songs reflect that. … It’s almost like each song tells a story of an experience either with somebody we love or in the land that we love or a combination of those two things. It’s just so beautiful out here. … We’re just fortunate to be able to get out of the city and spend some time in the countryside, and that’s when we feel inspired and feel like writing songs.”

In just a few months’ time, Briscoe has taken this regional sound to the international stage. The band performed at Cancún’s Out of the Blue Festival in January alongside several more established acts that have given the group great guidance and influence.

“Out of the Blue, that lineup was so much fun,” Lupton said. “Mt. Joy was there, Caamp was there, Noah Kahan, Briston Maroney.”

Heintzelman interjected that the band also shared the Out of the Blue stage with Birmingham natives The Brook & The Bluff.

Heintzelman said Mt. Joy has been very kind to the band and has helped usher them into the music and festival scene and even gave them a nudge on social media.

He also is thrilled to have the support of a distinguished band like Mt. Joy, admiring his exceptional songwriting, musicianship, and performance skills. The structure and touring approach of Mt. Joy inspires him, making the opportunity deeply gratifying. His feeling of admiration and connection extends equally to Caamp and Noah Kahan.

Between its rootsy yet polished sound and its esteemed list of contacts, which includes its Grammy-nominated producer Brad Cook, Briscoe is perfectly poised for a meteoric rise in the worlds of folk, country and indie music. They will take the stage in Tuscaloosa next month with an album to promote, a sound to establish and an Alabamian audience to win over.

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