Province of Thieves is an all-acoustic quartet featuring guitar, mandolin, ukulele, upright bass and percussion. But what really sets these guys apart are their powerful vocal harmonies, reminiscent of Crosby Still and Nash or the Eagles. With influences spanning folk rock, bluegrass, beach music and 80’s pop, you’re invited on a journey through the Province of Thieves!
Brad and Greg have known each other for some time, mostly through the ministry of Robinson Presbyterian Church. Both were instrumental in the leadership of the Charlotte Fire! contemporary worship service at RPC, so music was always an element in the relationship. But it wasn't just music, it was also dance. Brad's daughter Emily took ballet instruction from Greg's wife Amanda for many years until Emily's graduation from high school in 2012. That's where the Province Of Thieves story really begins...
For Emily's senior dance recital, Amanda requested that Brad play a song live for Emily to dance to during the recital (as opposed to playing a recording). Brad went a step further than agreeing to play a song, he wrote a new song, just for Emily. Brad then invited Greg to accompany, and with Brad on guitar and vocals and Greg on mandolin and vocals, the Thieves played their very first "gig," a one song debut, with Emily's dance accompaniment, titled "Dance Back To Me." Emily danced beautifully, her mother cried predictably, Brad won all kinds of "Dad" cred.
Of course, at the time of the dance recital, there was no such band name and really, no such band. But the performance went so well, one music performer turned to the other and said, "this was fun, we should keep doing this." And so it began...
After months in the garage working up a set of at least 30 acoustic songs to play, the Thieves set to embark on their first world tour. First stop: Playing two songs for the Metrolina Elvis Fan Club meeting on October 2, 2012 at the VFW club in Indian Trail, NC. You have to start somewhere, and keep in mind that two songs were exactly double the amount of tunes played in the first gig. The Elvis club appreciated the Thieves effort on covering Elvis' "Suspicious Minds" for what it was worth. The Thieves won the the tip jar haul and took their winnings to Taco Bell for an after-gig celebratory bean burrito.
Next they were on to Madison's Coffee House on November 10, 2012 for their first full three hour appearance. The Thieves credit Madison's owner, Dawn Stodolski, for really helping them get started gigging. Dawn took Greg completely at his word, booking the Thieves with little recorded evidence to prove that the Thieves were a good band and worthy of taking over Dawn's coffee house for an evening. She would not be disappointed, and the Thieves made regular appearances at Madison's throughout the next two years.
2013 saw 32 Thieves performances, mostly in the greater Matthews, NC area. But the year was punctuated by a huge appearance on September 21, 2013 at City Tavern in Southpark (Charlotte, NC) where the Thieves performed for more than 500 attendees of the Camp LUCK "Open Your Heart" dinner and auction. The Camp LUCK staff and auction attendees loved the Thieves so much, the Thieves have been regular performers at Camp LUCK events ever since. The Thieves consider Camp LUCK their signature supported charitable cause.
But Camp LUCK is not the only organization the Thieves have supported. They have loaned their talents to fundraising efforts for the Cabarrus Humane Society and numerous small church functions over the past few years. Not only that, it is not uncommon to hear the Thieves announce they will donate their tip jar haul to worthy causes.
2014 saw perhaps the most significant Thieves milestone to date, the completion of writing, recording and producing their first album. The self-titled debut album was recorded over several weeks in January 2014 at Simple Tune Studio in Indian Trail, NC. Featuring nine original songs and one cover of Chicago's "Make Me Smile". The album featured guest performances from Ryan Davis on bass guitar, Leslie Nakhle on backing vocals, and recording engineer Tom Eure on fiddle and numerous other percussive tracks. Release on April 12, 2014 the band celebrated with a very well attended CD Release Party at Moochies Tavern that same week.
2014 saw another 24 appearances by the Thieves in the greater Charlotte area. As the year closed out, Greg became more involved with the worship band at Next Level Church in Matthews, NC where he met guitarist/banjoist/vocalist Steve Allen. Greg felt Steve's instrumental and vocal skills were a natural fit for where the Thieves wanted to progress in their music. An invitation to audition for the band was forwarded and Steve would soon be a regular participating Thief.
The transition from two part vocals to three part harmony vocals is not a matter of "everybody just sing what you're hearing." With only two people, the harmony vocalist can really just sing anything that harmonizes. But with two harmony vocals, now you've got to get organized to keep from stepping on one another. Many Thieves practices include time-consuming work strictly on vocal parts and discipline. Thieves local popularity rose in 2015 as they broke ground in new venues like Treehouse Vineyards in Monroe and new fans were gained. 2015 also saw two dozen appearances by the band. It was becoming evident that the harmonic vocals, which the Thieves excelled at, were becoming the chief draw.
Brad and Greg had been discussing all along how an upright bass player would also be a perfect fit to join our band. But, alas, upright bass players are in very slim supply in these parts and don’t just walk up to you and ask if they can join your band. Except that one night in late summer of 2015, after a particularly lovely evening on the Moochies Tavern patio, Parker Foley walked up to the Thieves and said: “Hi! I’m an upright bass player, and I’d like to join your band!” Swear to Fiddler’s Green, that’s exactly how it happened. So now, as 2015 drew to a close and with the band more than a year past their last recorded album as a duo, the band was twice the size and new original music, written while keeping a quartet in mind as the performing artist, was emerging...
Over the course of 2014 and 2015, original songwriting, particularly from the band's two founders, continued to occur. Province Of Thieves was becoming a songwriting vehicle for the two, and even Steve Allen began getting in on the songwriting action as well. By December 2015, the Thieves had saved up a sum of money from regular gigging and had also stored up a dozen of their best songs. A date was then set with Boo English at Knothole Recording Studios in Waxhaw, NC to begin recording work on the new Province Of Thieves album.
But before the Thieves could step into the studio, a month of preparatory practices in January 2016 would ensue in Greg's cold garage. Jennie Brooks was invited in (on recommendation from Parker) to help out with drums and percussion. Tammy Morris, another close friend of the band from Next Level Church, came in to figure out where the Thieves could fit her powerful rock vocal skills into the mix.
On Friday January 29, 2016, the entire band walked into the Knothole studios and began laying down tracks. This process took nights and weekends over the entire course of February and well into March 2016. Many tedious evenings poring over the recorded tracks, making edits and generally driving studio engineer Boo English crazy finally culminated in the production of Province Of Thieves newest album "Laverna" released in May of 2016.
The album features soon-to-be well established tracks such as "Greatest Wonders" as well as already well established live favorites like "Whiskey Saved the World." But the album has ten other great songs that all stand on their own and make this a solid hour of Folk/Americana goodness. No filler here. Tammy Morris stands out on "Higher." Parker Foley throws in some nice upright bass solo runs on "Trails." Jennie Brook's drum work and Greg Moore's acoustic guitar solos on "Sweeter Cup" are not to be missed. Steve Allen's James Tayloresque voice is the chief draw on "Carolina Gold." And as always, Brad Davidson's songwriting takes center stage on several tracks including the title track "Laverna."
This album is also the first to feature cover art from Cary, NC artist Tim Lee. Tim also happens to be a mandolinist himself, playing in the "Hey Brothers," an NC triangle-based bluegrass band. Tim's "Pretty Red Lips" painting caught the eye of the Thieves on the internet, and the Thieves licensed with Tim to feature the art on the cover of the new album. In fact, the Thieves did not really have a title for the album nailed down until it was decided that Tim's art would be the album cover. Once that was decided, the cover's red-haired mandolin picking beauty would soon be, essentially, LAVERNA Roman goddess of Thieves. Not to throw spoilers out there, but we wouldn't be entirely surprised if future albums featured more of Tim's work, along with sequel appearances of Laverna herself.
2016 appearances are still being added to the Thieves calendar. Proving this will be yet another successful year of music for the band. This includes the Sunday June 26th appearance of the Thieves at Symphony Park in Charlotte, NC. This show featured the largest crowd the band has every performed for (estimate 3000), on the largest stage they have ever appeared on. An exciting rest of 2016 awaits!