For Sons of Bill, an Asian tour this summer had more than one strangers-in-a-strange-land moment.
Take, for example, a show at Camp Zama, Japan, where 15 or so middle-aged women started line dancing to the band’s cover of a Drive-By Truckers song.
“That was one of those strange clashes of culture,” says Abe Wilson, piano and banjo player for the roots-rock band.
“They probably look at doing line dancing like us doing yoga.”
The Charlottesville-based group toured four Asian countries in July, playing for troops through an arrangement with Armed Forces Entertainment. The band performed about 20 shows, including one for soldiers at Camp Hovey, South Korea, that ranks among the top gigs of their career.
“They were a bunch of guys near the North Korean border, and it probably wasn’t such a great place to be a soldier, but they were really ready to hear some music,” Wilson says. “It was an awesome response.”
In addition to Abe Wilson (Col ’04) on piano, organ and banjo, the band features brothers James Wilson (Col ’07) on guitar and vocals and Sam Wilson on guitar, plus Seth Green (Col ’06) on bass and Brian Caputo on drums. The Wilsons are sons of William M. Wilson (Col ’72, ’83), an assistant dean in the College of Arts & Sciences, and Barbara B. Wilson (Med ’78), a UVA dermatology professor.
The band’s Asian adventure included some misadventures. No sooner had the five musicians arrived in Guam than they realized the drums were still in Virginia (they rented substitutes). A lost wallet and passport (they later resurfaced), close encounters with local cuisine such as kelaguen (“some kind of ground fish and citrus masterpiece”) and tours of ancient temples and palaces added spice to the trip.
A performance Aug. 31 at the Satellite Ballroom in Charlottesville brought their globe-trotting full circle.
“We played our first show in Charlottesville, and every time we come back we get that same feeling as the first one,” Abe Wilson says. “It’s always just great.”
Sons of Bill recently spent time in Haunted Hollow, the Dave Matthews Band’s local studio, recording three songs that are being eyed for an EP. But a full-length follow-up to their current album, “A Far Cry From Freedom,” is not in the immediate future.
“We feel there are a lot more people out there who need to hear that,” Wilson says.