Sol Driven Train rehearses with students for LEAF

Barbara Hootman

Dancing shook the floor and singing rung the rafters as Swannanoa Valley Montessori School elementary students rehearsed with the Sol Driven Train before the band’s — and the students’ — performance at the recent LEAF Festival.

Over the past 15 years, the Charleston, South Carolina-based band has won dozens of awards for the American pop and folk it weaves into its own roots sound. Less well-known is its work with students. Many of its performances are preceded by a visit to a school to work and rehearse with kids “because that’s how we started as a band back in middle school,” band member Joel Timmons said. “This is a way we give back to the community where we are performing.”

Sol Driven Train brought three of its six members to Swannanoa Valley Montessori to rehearse for their joint appearance at LEAF Oct. 17. On site were Timmons on guitar, Wes Powers on drums and Matt Thompson on bass and vocals.

Jen Hermance, an elementary level teacher at the school, said the opportunity was great for the students.

“They have studied about New Orleans-scene music like the band plays, so they can appreciate the experience more,” she said. “It is an opportunity for them to experience art and music at the same time. Our students have performed at LEAF twice a year for several years. Sometimes it is a play or giant puppets, and this time it is music.”

“It was really awesome,” said Avery Van Note, one of the students.