Province Of Thieves is an acoustic ensemble hailing from Charlotte, NC. They feature guitar, mandolin, ukulele, Irish bouzouki, banjo, upright bass, and percussion. Their blend of unique instrumentation with powerful vocals is impressive; so much so that it earned them a 2018 Carolina Music Award.
The “Thieves” have been together since 2012 performing predominately all original music, which is influenced by folk rock, Americana, bluegrass, Beach music and even 80’s pop. Collaborators Brad Davidson and Greg Moore got to know each other through church ministry at Robinson Presbyterian Church where they helped lead the worship group, The Charlotte Fire.
Brad’s daughter, Emily, also took ballet instruction from Greg’s wife, Amanda, for many years until Emily’s graduation from high school in 2012. For Emily’s senior dance recital, Amanda requested that Brad play a song live for Emily to dance to during the recital.
He Wrote A Song
He went a step further, writing a new song, just for Emily, and then invited Greg to accompany him. That was the “Thieves” first official gig. The acoustic duo have been playing, writing, and recording ever since.
“Our official performance as Province of Thieves was a cover of “Suspicious Minds” for a local Elvis Presley fan club,” Brad recalled. “Cheating, perhaps, but it was a hit, and we won the popular vote as best performance of the night and took home the tip kitty.”
In the fall of 2014 the guys added Steve Allen to the lineup on banjo, guitar, and vocals. “A year later, Parker Foley walked up to us right after a gig and literally introduced himself as ‘…Parker Foley, upright bass player,” Greg told me. “It’s almost as if Parker knew that we were on the hunt to add a rhythm section.” Parker then brought Jennie Brooks in on percussion, just in time for pre-recording rehearsals prior to entering Knothole Studio in January, 2016 to record the band’s second round of original tunes that would become the Laverna album.
Two To Six Quick
“Over the course of about a year and a half we went from being an acoustic duo with one basement album recording, to a five-piece folk band with two albums,” Greg said, “The newest of which helped us win a 2018 Carolina Music Award. Fast forward to 2019, and we’ve recently added one more piece to the group: Kirsten Allen (no relation to Steve) joining us on fiddle.”
Not Quite Yet
When I asked Greg if the band had been able to go out full time, he responded; “Right now, we’d have to honestly use that dreaded hobby word. We all still have day jobs. One member is a Supply Chain Manager, another is in health care sales, both of our lady members are odd-job-musicians/teachers, and two of our members work for big banks (Parker recently retired). In fact, speaking of banks, the Charlotte area is so well-known for being full of bankers and TV preachers – now you might get an idea about where our band name comes from, in case that was a question you were wondering about,” Greg mused.
When it comes to understanding the style of music the Thieves play, Brad said, “We really like to stir the pot and see what new flavors we can discover. In simplest terms, we’re harmonic-acoustic modern folk and Americana. But maybe a better way to put it is neo-eclectic-folk-fusion. Greg, Steve, and I are the primary songwriters, and each brings their unique tastes and music experiences to the table. As a result, we weave together American folk, rock, pop, beach, Celtic, jazz, ragtime, a cappella, and bluegrass.”
Part of what drives the band is that they are constantly changing things up, so when you listen to one of their albums, you get 10 or 12 distinct songs that don’t run together. Part of that comes from the different influences and songwriting styles, but they also change up lead singers and instrumentation to keep things fresh and interesting. “Every band member is a multi-instrumentalist, so we have a lot of combinations to play,” Brad said.
Although the band plays in a mostly urban/suburban area in the Charlotte, NC region, “I can’t tell you how many times people have accused us of being a bluegrass band,” Greg said. “I can assure anyone who is a big fan of Bluegrass or Old Time music; we are not a bluegrass or old-time band. I think the best music acts are somewhat genre defying, or perhaps genre-defining in that they create an entirely new genre. They simply have their own style, and then everyone is left to argue what to call it and whether it conforms to their ancient genre rules.”
“When we started the band, we thought it might be cool if we played traditional folk instruments, but our set list would be reworked 80’s pop/rock songs. Our bar set still features a lot of those tunes too. Some of that cover styling bleeds into our originals, but I’d prefer to just keep things simple and call our music folk, you know, ‘cause I’m the guy who argues the case for simplicity.”