Newcomers Delta Rae Play DNC in Charlotte

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(Smallz and Raskind)

(Smallz and Raskind)

Thursday, September 6, Charlotte, North Carolina will host an impressive group of musicians playing on the last day of the Democratic National Convention. Luminaries from across genres will take the stage before President Barack Obama speaks tonight, including Mary J. Blige, the Foo Fighters, James Taylor, Marc Anthony and North Carolina’s own Delta Rae.

It’s not their first step on to the national stage — the group have played Jay Leno and NPR and been featured in Rolling Stone. But it’s the biggest live audience to date that the group have performed for.

The group is composed of siblings Ian, Eric and Brittany Hölljes along with their friends Elizabeth Hopkins, Mike McKee and Grant Emerson. In the style of Fleetwood Mac, all the Hölljes and Hopkins take turns singing lead vocals.

“We’ve been singing together for a long time so it’s very gratifying to be sharing the stage with people who we know well and who have been there from the get-go for us. As musicians, it’s cool,” Brittany told CBS Local.

Their breakthrough single, “Bottom of the River,” is an old-fashioned foot-stomper full of spooky vibes and the kind of acoustic melodies that bands like Mumford & Sons and the Avett Brothers have primed us to love.

“I think people want something earthy and organic because it’s in part a reaction to how overexposed the rest of the world feels,” Ian says. “There’s so much stuff out there that feels cheap, that feels manufactured or like it’s not very authentic. I think it lends people wanting to come back to something that feels raw and emotional and real.”

The band wasn’t always in North Carolina, but the Hölljes grew up there and Delta Rae united there as a group to make it their home base in part, Ian says, because “It’s where all the ghosts are.”

“North Carolina is where my mom grew up and where my parents met and it holds a lot of history for my family,” Brittany elaborates.

Performing at the DNC isn’t the first foray into political territory for Delta Rae. When North Carolina were debating, and ultimately passed, amendment one which prohibited same-sex marriage, the band wrote a song in favor of marriage equality called “Chain On Love.”

“It was a really unpopular thing when my mom was fighting, was working for the citizen’s coalition and fighting for gay rights,” says Ian. “People would leave death threats on the car and…at some point you start realizing there’s a real meanness, a sickness, an evil about this stuff and it really deserves to be stood up against. I think that was very potent for me, that was very galvanizing with wanting to be a band that says something.”

“The song ‘Chain On Love’ which is the one song that I think explicitly expresses a belief that we have that influences politics…and can be polarizing, it wasn’t a question though to perform that,” continues Brittany. “That song is something that we all felt and it had to come out.”

Coverage of the Democratic National Convention continues tonight, including an address from President Barack Obama. Check your local CBS station for coverage.

-Courtney E. Smith, CBS Local

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