DH: I really do. I really identify with traditional music - its hard not to, coming from this region. I consider punk rock folk music anything thats grassroots, people talking about whats relevant in life. You know, when I listen to a Minor Threat record - theyre telling stories about where they live and what they do. But here in South Carolina, weve got a few regions. Weve got the piedmont country and bluegrass region. [Weve got] the coast, inspired by the Gullah people and African music. You can feel that throughout the south. There was a lot of jazz going on here way back in the day. You know how it is with any region - its who migrates there and how the people mix with each other.
A lot of my songs are from being in one place [for so long], and growing up here. Im a southerner who had a farmer dad, you know. Fields of Cotton wasnt written by someone who dont know. [I write a lot about] being around the culture of people who work hard until the work is done. So you can call me a folk musician in that sense.
One thing I really dig about folk musicians is that theyre able to draw on many types of music. You know, bluegrass people influence traditional folk people; country swing people are gonna be influenced by people with West African influence so its a melting pot. Folk music is a melting pot (laughs).
KR: Youve played shows with, and toured with, some really incredible artists (among them, Bob Dylan, Ani DiFranco, Steve Earle, Indigo Girls)
is there anyone left you want to work with, or just get together and jam with?
DH: Oh well Id love to meet Del McCoury. And I wanna play with Tim OBrien real bad. Im getting to play with Darryl Scott soon. I got to play with the Avett Brothers, so I feel better about that now. You might really like them. Theyre like punkgrass. Theyre spirited good. Just [seeing] them live theyve got the energy there, and you just cant deny them.
KR: Are they from Columbia, too?
DH: No theyre from Concord, NC.
KR: Are you still playing with the Tantrums and Lay Quiet Awhile?
DH: You know bands tend to run their course. The drummer for the Tantrums is the percussionist now for the group Iron & Wine. Sam [Beam, from Iron & Wine] is from this area. Now when I play, Ill go to other regions and meet people and they just wind up in my band. You know, when Im in Nashville, I play with a band called Last Train Home. When Im in the Northeast, I play with a band called Spottis Wood and His Enemies. And with Mark Bryan's influence, he tends to mix with an incredible bunch of musicians. Nobody in this world could love music like Mark Bryan loves music. Hes the one that got Sam Bush to play some violin [on the record].
Now here's a story about that song Fields of Cotton. Phillip was sitting on the couch one day and he said Danielle, I dont know how to play this song. And I said to him, Phillip, why dont you just play Darlington County? Thats this county here in South Carolina with a lot of agrarian life. A lot of farming and cotton fields in Darlington County. I said, Just listen to the freaking fields, man. And so he just played [how the cotton would play].
And then This Kind of Light we recorded that four times, and they all sucked. So I just said Im gonna go stand out on the porch and sing these vocals [and thats the take that worked]. Sometimes I get it exactly how I want it. Ill sit down with the musicians and Ill sing [their parts] to them because I dont read the notes. Theres all these different ways [to make the songs work with other musicians].
KR: Do you find more freedom playing with a band or playing solo - when you dont have to kind of wait for someone else to play their part?
DH: Well, when its just me, I can control the pace more. I get more time to chat with people and tell my folk stories, and all. [But] with a band, it frees me up in a different way, to be a vocalist. So Im trying to figure out a way to get those two twains to meet. So I feel like Im getting to work on it. And Ill be working on it my whole life, probably. Sometimes I dont work on it at all. Sometimes I just get out there and flat out fail. And thats what I love so much about both mediums [playing solo & with a band], is to be fearless and not afraid of failure. And I look for players like that. The Avett Brothers are really like that.
KR: Well Im out of questions for you, Danielle. Anything you want to say, that you want my readers to know about?
DH: I want people to have a good time being alive. Thats really what I want them to do. Thats very simplified, and I could go further into that good time but I wont. I just want them to have a good time.