The live-wire band Delta Rae (with four lead singers) was signed to a major-label deal by the legendary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Seymour Stein, vice president of Warner Bros. Records and a co-founder of Sire Records, the latter which signed Madonna, Talking Heads, Ramones, Depeche Mode, The Smiths, the Pretenders, Ice-T and, not least, Echo & the Bunnymen.
The sextet began as a band of literal brothers, Eric and Ian Hölljes, who performed as a duo while they attended Duke University. They enlisted their younger sister, Brittany Hölljes, and then asked another singer, Elizabeth Hopkins, to join. “Our vision was that you can do something powerful with four voices that you can’t do with three voices,” Eric said. “Each of the voices has a unique quality. Elizabeth has a raspy, old-soul voice that we loved and wanted to write for.”
Mike McKee, on percussion, and Grant Emerson, on bass, joined the fold in 2010. The term “percussion” is important, as McKee doesn’t just drum on a regular old drum kit. He also has a penchant for banging on trash cans, which adds an earthy, dynamic aspect to the often lusty and always robust harmonizing. “I didn’t see trash-can drumming coming,” Eric admitted, but it works.
Eric, who began studying electrical engineering until surrendering to the big questions of philosophy at Duke, was not interested in studying music at Duke’s acclaimed School of Music. “Any time music becomes too structured, I lose interest,” he said.
The matriarch of the Hölljes family was born and raised in Durham, and that is where the band now hails from. For a long time, Durham was considered “the always-neglected child” of the triangle of North Carolina cities Chapel Hill and Raleigh, Eric said. But now Durham — known as “Bull City” — has an up-and-coming music scene, he said. “Downtown is really starting to come alive,” he said. “Durham is now on the map.”
Besides Branford Marsalis and Delta Rae, the scene includes popular bands and musicians such as Carolina Chocolate Drops, The Mountain Goats, and Megafaun, while members of. Additionally, members of Superchunk, Chatham County Line and the Avett Brothers live in Durham.
When • Saturday, Feb. 2 at 7:30 p.m.
Where • Eccles Center, 1750 Kearns Blvd., Park City
Tickets • $20 to $67 (with discounts available by phone for Summit County students and teachers, seniors and children) by calling 435-655-3114; day-of-show box office opens at noon