Music

Volk Bring Their High Voltage Folk Back To Houston

Nashville's rock and roll folk duo Volk return to Houston on Friday, December 17 at The Continental Club.
Nashville's rock and roll folk duo Volk return to Houston on Friday, December 17 at The Continental Club. Photo By Elisabeth Donaldson
If folk music went haywire, plugged into a bass amp and turned it up to 11 then it would become Nashville- based duo Volk. “That was the idea, playing folk music but we are going to add electricity to it and that's where the name came from for us,” says guitarist and vocalist Chris Lowe.

Volk will be performing in Houston on Friday, December 17 at the Continental Club opening for 40 Acre Mule from Dallas. The band is thrilled to be returning to Houston and landing a gig at the Continental.

Last time they performed in Houston it was to a petrified crowd at Goodnight Charlie’s following the shutdown of the Houston Rodeo due to COVID-19. “It was a very awkward show,” says Lowe.

Volk is made up of Lowe and drummer and vocalist Eleot Reich. The two met while teaching abroad in Berlin back in 2013 and began playing open mics around town. “We were trying to fit into this folky, Berlin scene but acoustic guitar is boring after a while.”

When the band lost their drummer from one day to the next, what originally began as a trio playing folk music morphed into a two-person, high energy, garage rock band who held onto their country and folk roots.

“I was ready to come home and play this music that we had come to love from a far and play in the places where it actually originated,” says Lowe of the band's decision to move to Nashville in 2016.

Volk is just wrapping up a tour with rockabilly staples Nekromantix and The Delta Bombers. “That's the cool thing about being Volk, we've been able to exist between the scenes,” says Lowe of the band's ability to fit in to multiple genres.

“Genres are so dumb. Nobody fits in any particular thing. There’s two genres; there’s good music and there's shitty music. It shouldn't really matter.”

“Genres are so dumb. Nobody fits in any particular thing. There’s two genres; there’s good music and there's shitty music. It shouldn't really matter.”

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“It’s really this Frankenstein of all of our influences on the stage,” describes Lowe of the band’s inability to be placed in a box. “We have that love of country but because it is a duo it's naturally going to be more punk rock, more garage. I think we've definitely found ourselves more at home with cowpunk, especially as we’ve researched it more.”

Cowpunk may be the best fitting label for Volk but on their latest release Cashville the band really shows off their range with an album that perfectly reflects the culmination of their influences and journey as a band.

“That's just been us learning as we delve deeper into it,” says Lowe of the band's sound. “Eleot and I, we wear alot of our influences on our shoulder.”

Listening to their previous three EP’s; The Tinker Tone Demos, Average American Band and Boutique Western Swing Compositions, their evolution is clear as their sound and look visibly get more intense, in your face and theatrical.

"Full credit to Eleot because if it was up to me I'd still be wearing flannel and blue jeans," he says of his band mate originally from California and with a background in theater. "She definitely knows engaging with the crowd. The whole presentation; the amplifiers, the drums, the glitz, the costumes. There's definitely a lot of thought that she has put into it, a lot more than I have."

“I think the cowpunk thing is the attitude that we give off, especially on stage,” says Lowe. “We are wearing sequins and cowboy hats with led lights looking like a rhinestone cowboy thing but then we just turn everything full blast and come hard at everybody.”

In Cashville, Volk bounce between the high voltage and aggressive “Welcome To Cashville” where they poke fun at the Nashville music machine to the more solemn “Old Palestine” written about Lowe’s hometown. "I'm pretty sure I'd get tared and feathered if I played it at avenue there," he says.  “We are the unpopular kid in high school who is just ripping on everybody,” says Lowe of the tongue in cheek "Welcome To Nashville" which originally was written about the Berlin music scene but then became a song poking fun at the music city.

They even take on Texas legend Ray Wylie Hubbard's “Snake Farm,” a song they made sure to get prior approval from Hubbard himself before putting it on the album. “I would almost put him in cowpunk too because of his attitude,” says Lowe.

For being only two people, Lowe and Reich somehow manage to fill in all the sonic spaces creating a burst on stage and in the studio. “That's the cradle of creativity,” says Lowe of their booming sound. “When you don’t have a lot to work with, that's when you get creative.”

“We have lots of fun and maybe it’s out of stupidity and not knowing any better that we are just like, we are going to play this and we go this direction, whether or not anyone else is going that direction,” says Lowe.

Volk will perform with 40 Acre Mule on Friday, December 17 at The Continental Club, 3700 Main, 8 p.m., $12-22.
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Gladys Fuentes is a first generation Houstonian whose obsession with music began with being glued to KLDE oldies on the radio as a young girl. She is a freelance music writer for the Houston Press, contributing articles since early 2017.
Contact: Gladys Fuentes