3 minute read

Gin Denton: James Brickey and Hollowfade

by Gin Denton

James Brickey and Hollowfade


I first met James Brickey at Open Mic at the Reeves Theater in Elkin, where he is on the sound team for the Martha Bassett Show. He sometimes runs sound for Open Mic, and sometimes he performs. His singing voice is amazing, and he plays solo gigs as well as gigs with his band, Hollowfade. James, his brother, Justus, and their long-time friend Alex Whitley make up Hollowfade. James plays guitar and is lead vocalist, Justus play bass, and Alex is on the drums. Usually they do full electric shows, but they do acoustic sets also. I asked James about the band’s name and genre: “We looked for inspiration from Alice in Chains, which is one of our biggest musical influences. They have two songs titled ‘Hollow’ and ‘Never Fade’ that Alex had the idea of combining into Hollowfade. All three of us loved it.” He continued, “The most fitting genre would probably be Alternative Rock, but we like to say, ‘Grunge 2.0.’ We draw heavy influence from the sounds of 1990s’ rock, but we also try to incorporate our favorite musical flavors from completely different genres and artists like Def Leppard’s vocal harmonies, Pink Floyd’s spacial and atmospheric vibes, and countless other ideas and sounds we adore.” The band members live in Dobson, Mt. Airy, and Elkin now, but Elkin is “home.” James said, “We grew up in Wilkes County right near the Surry line, so technically we are Wilkes natives but close enough to Surry that it's a tough call.” James began guitar lessons in 2006, when his sixth grade English teacher, Ben Kallam, offered to teach him. He credits his chorus teachers at East Wilkes for a solid foundation in singing. He said, “I've really put my voice through the wringer over the years, but through trial and error – and remembering back to what Mrs. Poplin and Mrs. Campbell taught me – I've ended up finding a unique sound that I love and can control.” Justus and Alex began playing their instruments in 2008, but their first music training was in band, where both played the trombone. Beyond these middle and high school classes, James stated, “All of our music ‘knowledge’ has come from digging deep into different genres and experimenting with the chords, phrasings, and rhythms they used in their music.” The trio has played together since 2011. When James and Justus played with the Joey Nevada Band for a couple of years, Alex filled-in on drums a few times. James said, “It seems all roads led to the three of us playing together in anything we did.” And in 2018, they formed Hollowfade. The band plays both covers and originals. They plan to record and release two albums in the next couple of years. For covers, they pull from grunge and post-grunge music, but they “enjoy putting our spin on 1970s’ rock hits.” A cover that’s a regular for them is “Would?” by Alice in Chains. Music is James’s full-time job. He plays solo acoustic gigs at breweries and wineries in Virginia and North Carolina in addition to running sound at the Reeves. Justus works for the US Postal Service in Mount Airy as a mail carrier, and Alex works for Vitro in Elkin as a training coordinator. The band’s “true goal is to eventually have music be our collective fulltime job that we can make a living off of for the rest of our lives. Anything more than that would be icing on the cake.” The band is taking a summer break as Justus is welcoming a baby girl into his family in July. But check their website www.hollowfade.com to find James’s solo gigs in August and early fall.

Meanwhile, find Hollowfade’s music, including two EPs, on Spotify, Apple Music, and other platforms. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram @hollowfade. In closing, I asked James to share something unique about the band. His response? “We just may be the only rock band around that makes it a point to jam out to Vern Gosdin (a country legend in the ’70s and ’80s) on the way to every single show we play.”

Hollowfade along with friends (local guitarists) Jeff Inmann and Josh Casstevens

Happy Trails to you!

Editor’s Note:

Gin Denton is stepping down from her column to spend more time with her family, her own music ventures, and to “grow her farm,” where she offers horseback riding lessons for children and youth. Surry Living Magazine thanks her for years of devotion to this wonderful and informative column. We wish her the best of luck!