Don’t let the slack moniker fool you, when The Freeloaders come to Pawleys Island this weekend they’ll be working hard to earn their keep. With back-to-back shows Friday and Saturday, the band will mark its third year in a row of performing at the Pawleys Island Tavern for New Year’s Eve.
Beginning at 9 p.m. Friday, the band will bring its unique blend of classically-influenced instrumentation and powerful female vocals to the stage, ringing in the new year with three sets of rock, funk and soul.
New Year’s Eve with The Freeloaders
- Where | Pawleys Island Tavern, 10635 Ocean Highway, Pawleys Island
- When | Friday and Saturday, 9 p.m. each night
- Cost | No cover
- More info | www.pawleysislandtavern.com or call (843) 237-8465
“We’re expecting this to be the best year yet,” said bassist Oliver Goldstein. “We have lots of friends that make the trip with us and they keep coming back year after year because the PIT is such a great environment. Its just a good place to be on New Year’s and a great place to hear music.”
Though the New Year’s gig has become one of the band’s favorites, the show is just one of many the Charleston-based band has played in the area.
“We’ve been playing the PIT ever since we started. I’m pretty sure it was the first real out-of-town gig we ever had.” he said. “It’s pretty much like our second home.”
Goldstein says his band loves playing in Pawleys Island because it has much the same laid-back feel as Charleston and because the fans really appreciate music there. The Freeloaders also play Murrells Inlet somewhat often, an area Goldstein describes as a good place for music, but with more of a tourist vibe.
Making the band
The Freeloaders were born from a love of music shared by two budding musicians from the same hometown. The two, Goldstein and Mullinax hadn’t interacted until congregating with the same group of friends while attending college.
They began playing together, along with some others including Cre Moore and Will Evans, and eventually formed a band.
“At first it was just informal jamming with some friends, but then as we got some songs under our belt we started looking for a singer, because that wasn’t any of our strong suits,” said Goldstein.
After playing with their original singer for about a year, the band hit a turning point when Goldstein and Mullinax met singer Elise Testone at the wedding of Moore’s brother.
“We just got to talking around the same time we were parting ways with our first singer, Andrea, and found out she was in sort of the same place we were.” said Goldstein.” She was doing a lot by herself and with jazz trios and things at the time, but was looking for a band to get together with and things just kind of worked.”
From there, despite losing Moore and Evans who headed to L.A. to make a record with another project, the band has really solidified its classic rock-influenced sound with its three core members, Goldstein on bass, Mullinax on guitar and Testone singing.
To round out its live sets The Freeloaders enlists a rotating group of drummers including Jack Byrd, Stewart White and on occasion Moore, who will sit in with the band when he’s in town.
But despite all the shuffling and changing lineup, Goldstein says the goal remains the same in taking the various influences of its members and combining it into something that sounds cohesive.
“We started off real informal and jam band-ish with lots of different influences, but as the thing boiled down we incorporated all of that and also worked to isolate them,” says Goldstein. “We have songs that are funk tunes, some that are straight-up rock, and others that are more R&B and Motown-ish.”
Doing it live
For those considering coming to see The Freeloaders live, expect a high-energy effort which leans heavily on classic tunes such as those by Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix.
“We love Zeppelin, and we’re lucky to be able to do it, because there’s not a lot of male vocalists that can really hit Robert Plant, but Elise definitely can,” says Goldstein.
In addition to a heavy dose of rock, the band plans to fuse covers of classic blues, soul, and r&b tunes as well as peppering in some of their own original material throughout. Its an experience he says can be enjoyed by musical novices and hardcore fans alike.
“We are very fortunate to have some amazing talents in Wallace and Elise,” he says. “Everywhere we go folks are blown away by these guys. When they step out and do their thing together its definitely something special.”
In addition, to the show on stage, Goldstein says there’s always the possibility of some additional excitement breaking out.
“This past New Year’s we were playing ‘Little Wing’ by Jimi Hendrix and there was this one light that had been bothering Elise. She went to go adjust the light ever so slightly and when she did the entire light and the stand it was hanging on just came crashing down.”
“At the same time someone in the crowd fell as well and coincidentally all of our sound went off at the same time, except for Wallace who just pushed through doing this amazing, dramatic solo. After that we just went off stage for about 5 minutes and when we came back folks just acted like nothing had ever happened.”
“I think that’s a perfect example of why Pawleys Island is such a great laid-back place to play,” he said.