Some are born great; some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them. It’s a little difficult to tell which category The Trio falls into. Perhaps it’s a nice, healthy blend of all three. What isn’t hard to discern is why they are becoming local legends and regionally recognized for their art. Within moments of hearing them perform, you know you’re in the presence of fantastic musicians. And after less than five minutes in conversation, it’s easy to tell that you’re in the presence of three genuinely good guys. Greg Kearney, Dylan Bragg, and Reverend Jake Hallman have each been performing in bands, as solo artists, and now, together for years.
When I sat town with The Trio, I was laughing from their first answer to their last. The camaraderie and humor made for one of the most enjoyable interviews I’ve conducted in quite some time, so I thought I’d share some of the best bits with you.
BH: So how did The Trio start?
JH: It all started in 1933, when four young gentlemen decided they wanted to bring quality hip-hop to the Canadian wilderness.
BH: It paints a beautiful picture. So when did you change the name from Mounting Mounties to The Trio?
JH: When we picked up a fifth member in 1934.
BH: It all becomes so clear now.
DB: Please don’t include this in any article...or actually it’s probably the best insight into who Reverend Jake is!
BH: (Laughing already) It sets a nice tone for the article. Individually, you've all played around here for a century or so... How long have y'all each been in the scene?
DB: For me it’ll be 13 years come May.
JH: I've been gigging in Statesboro since 1993. I grew up in Claxton, so this was really the only place we could find venues willing to take a chance on a band made up of two high school seniors and a couple of college freshmen. We worked cheap, which probably helped…
BH: What about you, Mr. Kearney?
GK: I was born and raised here in Statesboro, and I’ve been playing music since I was 11.
BH: Dylan, I know you started with Myles and Avery Willis and Wesley, your older brother, right?
DB: Just Myles. I’ve only actually played in one band for one or two show with Avery, unfortunately! We started off on the same instrument, nobody ever needed two bassists.
JH: Didn't Parliament-Funkadelic have, like, 20 bass players?
DB: Maybe, but they weren’t trying to replace Bootsy with me.
BH: You’ve played with a few bands, so when did you start doing solo stuff?
DB: I was on bass for four to five years with full band Wesley Bragg and The Cut Throat Cowboys, and playing guitar with our acoustic Ogeechee River Mud(which eventually became a full band with me back on bass). After that I switched to lead when we started doing only acoustic shows, Bragg & Company. First started doing The Other Bragg (my solo moniker) I guess about three years ago?
BH: Jake, you started off with Chris?
JH: Yeah. Chris Mitchell, Larry Summerlin, Brian Hendrix and I were "Won by One.” I bounced around several bands after that, everything from goth pop (including makeup, teased-up hair and dark suits!), to ska, to swing before landing in a country band called Lowrider, which led to playing with Outrider (the lead singers in the two bands were cousins) to touring with Eric Lee Beddingfield/County Line.
BH: Always on keys?
JH: Except for a short stint doing two-guitars-on-a-Monday-night at Dos Primos with Corey Smith, it's always been keys for me.
BH: So how did this unholy union come about?
JH: As I remember it, Dylan asked, "You want to play some music?" Then Greg asked, "You want to play some music? I said, "OK." My brain's shot, so I pretty much remember just starting to play shows with these guys, liking it a whole lot, and all of a sudden having an excuse to wear my clerical collar a lot more.
DB: That’s as close as I could call it. Not sure how it started just remember it starting! It was awesome. It worked; it was different; it’s fun. Being on stage with two exceptionally talented musicians pushes me to be the best I can be. I’ve gotta try and keep up ya know? I’ve had the privilege to play music with some amazing musicians, but these two are amongst the very best of them! The best part about it is that we are all so different from each other. Personality, musical taste, direction! You get something unique and creative when you start blending it together. Stir it around a bit and out pops The Trio.
JH: We're called that because there are four of us. (Dylan hates it when I say that.) What I love is that Greg and Dylan come from distinctly different places musically than I do. They've introduced me to a lot of Dead, Allman Brothers and other groups that I wouldn't normally listen to, let alone cover. We discovered that I'd never actually heard "Whipping Post" at one point, which I'll admit is pretty shameful. Left to my own devices, I'd happily play Britney Spears and Prince covers all night long. The free-wheeling, improvisatory nature of playing with two guys at Dylan and Greg's level means I have fun walking a tightrope at the shows with them holding a very large musical net under me. I get to stretch in what I can do, and they both push me to stretch out of my comfort zone into some really cool music.
BH: You said they come from different backgrounds...talk a bit about genre and musical roots for each of you.
DB: I could dedicate an entire day to that question and still not cover everything that’s shaped me! I grew up listening to 90’s country, southern rock. That’s what daddy played. But what shaped me early on as a musician was the stuff coming out of Texas, Oklahoma, Wyoming. Singer songwriter, Americana infused red dirt! That’s what we were playing when I first walked on stage. That’s until I discovered the blues. I was floored. It was painful, it was bone chilling, it grabbed you by the soul and pulled you in. God I love it! So you end up with someone who grew up on 90’s country, playing Red Dirt like Ragweed and Mickey and The Motorcars, loving the Blues, that can’t get enough Pink Floyd, Anders Osborne, Rolling Stones, Allman Brothers, Grateful Dead, Jason Isbell, Panic, Gram Parsons, Chris Knight, The Revivalist. I mean it’s just all over the board!!
BH: I feel that. The best music comes from infusing your soul with a wide variety of it. What about you, Rev?
JH: I'm largely a pop guy, but I listen to a pretty wide variety of stuff. Depends on my mood, I guess. What it comes down to is that I've got a big ol' hole in me that gets filled up by being on stage and entertaining a crowd, the riskier the attempt the better. Up until just a few years ago, the only thing moderating that impulse was my terrible memory for lyrics.I've got an iPad and an internet connection on stage with me now. That means that when someone yells out "CAN Y'ALL PLAY 'CARELESS WHISPER?!?!'" the only thing stopping me is usually Greg or Dylan physically draping themselves over the keyboard. Unless they drop a $20 in the tip jar. If that happens, we're doing some George Michael, by God.
BH: It seems like you guys kinda fill the gaps for one another.
JH: I had to work at it. These two have music in their DNA.
DB: Aw, shucks! Thanks Rev!! But I couldn’t pull the stuff outta thin air like you do! That’s a fact. (Btw careless whisper is a great song that we should be playing!)
JH: OH! GREG'S OUTVOTED
BH: What about you, Greg. Who are your influences?
GK: My influences range from anything from Coltrane to the Allmans and everything in between. I’m a big fan of the blues and slide guitar, funk, anything with soul.
DB: Greg’s the soul man! He’s all about music, he’s all about pushing us further and further! It’s as natural as breathing to him. Or so it seems from my point of view.
JH: From my point of view, he’s the guy furthest to the right.
DB: Greg’s always got the perfect diddy to add or the perfect slide part or the perfect song to play. He’s melt your face good! The guitar is an extension of his arm. He lives and breathes it. We’ve had the opportunity to play some really cool venues this year, and it’s all been because of him. He’s Absolutely one of the best people you’ll ever meet. Both of these guys are.
BH: So, where will y’all be playing in the new year? Any exciting new shows?
Any original stuff coming from this?
DB: Well, shows for the new year are coming! Some great places coming up but I don’t wanna spoil the surprise! As for originals, I’ve got maybe a dozen or so songs I’ve started/finished that I’d love to bring to the guys and say “what can we do with this? How can we work it to fit our style?” With musicians like Jake and Greg, I’d be thrilled to see what they can do with it. Everybody’s got their own flavor so the end result would be a blending of all of us.
GK: You guys are great.
JH: Better with you
BH: You guys seem to have a lot of respect for each other, and you can tell you are all friends.
DB: Great friends, great band mates, great brothers! To me for a group to live up to their potential they’ve gotta bond like family. And these guys are my family!
It sounds like 2020 has a lot in store for The Trio, and I, for one, can’t wait to see and hear what’s next. Follow all three of these guys on social media for details about how you can see them perform live. You can also find out how you can support their businesses, Homegrown Trading Post and Stouthouse Media.