By Becky Jane Newbold
Great music sometimes comes from the most unlikely of places.
Lifelong songwriter and musician, Denny Rudolph, pours passion into every lyric and every note. But dreams of a musical career definitely took a back burner to his day job as a financial advisor. Online and after hours, like most truly in love with the art, Denny wrote and shared words and tunes with other songwriters, always developing his gift.
Less than a mile away but unknown to Denny, Daniel Mason was working on a similar dream.
Denny and Daniel met on Facebook and the music clicked. When Daniel asked Nashville singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Jim Huish to join them the sound and song list exploded.
All it took was one performance in downtown Columbia and fans came out of the woodwork.
“I had a different vision…let’s just say Amber’s Drive wasn’t in my five year plan,” Denny commented with a grin during an interview last month.
Now the acoustic, instrumental backdrop and the three part harmonies of the trio blend perfectly to create a sound uniquely “Amber’s Drive.” Daniel, Denny and Jim integrate vocal harmonies in the pop, funk, blues, rhythm & blues and country styles, and their signature “acoustic country R&B” emerges.
And things do get a little out of hand onstage. Kinetically driven, Jim’s vocal contribution amazingly never wavers when his energetic performance on the Cajon (Spanish box drum) gets a little crazy.
By their third show, last fall the “crowd reaction was amazing,” Daniel said, driving the trio to pour all extra time and energy into their craft. “People kept asking our name and all we had was, “Daniel, Denny and Jim.” Their hang out at Denny’s place was where the music began to develop. Denny and Daniel’s families and Jim all became fast friends.
And the sign on the street corner, Amber Drive, solved the issue of a name for the band.
Jack Ponti of Merovee Records, longtime mentor of the songwriters, was given the opportunity to hear a first recording and quickly scheduled a conference call. “Your music is unique. It’s the best we’ve heard in a long time.”
“Our jaws dropped,” Jim exclaimed. We were anticipating critique.”
“Our faces went white. And when we got off the phone, we screamed like little girls,” Denny admitted.
“The serendipity from joining a songwriter group to a management deal; that was a weird experience,” he added.
No longer a hobby, Amber’s Drive works hard to achieve virtuosity. “Now it’s a business, like a second job,” Jim shared.
“Our rehearsals are awful: six hours of maybe two songs? Nobody wants to sit through that. Its like watching sausage being made,” Denny explained. “Its not pretty to watch in the beginning, but in the end you have something really good.”
A lasting friendship has emerged.
“Being around these two has elevated my game,” Denny added.
“Denny’s work ethic has helped us grow,” Jim interjected. “Artists are not always good business men. Denny has been so instrumental.”
“He understands what it takes,” Daniel added in agreement.
But for Amber’s Drive, their priorities are in two places. “We check our egos at the door,” Denny remarked. “We know we have two clients: the venue owners and the listeners.”
“We just love the people we are getting to meet. The connections we make with the music, they just touch us,” Jim reflected.
Wearing their signature Windsor Neck Ties, Amber’s Drive is hitting the local scene strongly. Fans boast CD purchases, one fan holding the CD for a selfie on Mt. Fuji in Japan. Sporting T-shirts on social media, sharing videos and often purchasing as many as 20 CDs to share with friends, the fan support is humbling.
“Probably the most emotional show, was our second CD release party at Kimbros,” Daniel stated. The audience sang on every song and shouted out to us.” “That was cool,” Denny added.
“We’ve been fortunate. People believed in us, helped us out. We have great family support,” Denny said.
Three men coming from a broad range of styles to create a unique sound.
“We take our songs and Amber’s Drive ‘em.”
Amber’s Drive first CD, “Jump Off This World.” Click the image below to purchase!