Eight years ago, when the trio known as The Lone Bellow got together, it could travel to shows around the country fairly easily.
Nowadays, touring is more complicated because its members – Zach Williams, Kanene Donehey Pipkin and Brian Elmquist – have brought seven kids into the world and tour as a “family band.”
Still, the experience has been nothing short of “amazing,” Donehey Pipkin and her band mates said during a phone interview last week from Nashville.
“It’s been beautiful to be in the band while they’re growing up and to see how we can make this something that they don’t resent but can be an important part of,” she said.
With three albums to its credit, the Bellow is in the midst of its first solely acoustic-trio tour — it normally performs as a five-piece, with a drummer and Donehey Pipkin’s husband on bass and keyboards — and will return to the Stoughton Opera House at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
And although the tour doesn’t involve full-band performances, the group still travels with an entourage of friends and family members.
“We’re traveling on a tour bus along with a whole big crew of others,” Williams said.
He serves as the band’s unofficial leader, having organized the trio after performing solo around Brooklyn and New York City following a move there from “south of the Mason-Dixon line.” In 2010, he got his friends Elmquist and Donehey Pipkin together and proposed forming a group.
Two years later, after playing music around the New York area, they signed a record contract and released their debut self-titled album in January ’13. The Lone Bellow released its second album, “Then Came the Morning,” in 2015 and was nominated for an Americana Music Award. It released its latest album, “Walk into a Storm,” in September 2017 to positive reviews.
The group’s music ranges from spare arrangements featuring three-part harmony signing to high-energy raucous Americana with a full-band arrangement. It features Williams and Elmquist on vocals and guitar and Donehey Pipkin on vocals and mandolin. And during each show, the trio sings at least a few songs around a single microphone to highlight their voices and close harmonies.
Williams told the Hub that each member contributes original songs and collaborates on others so that “everybody has a stake in the game.”
“We’ve had this beautiful honor of being in a band together and dedicating our lives to this work,” he said, “and I think it’s important that everybody has that freedom and sense of ownership to help curate the songs and bring new songs to the table.”
The group moved to Nashville before recording its latest album. Williams said relocating to Tennessee has allowed the band more time to be home with family. It’s also turned out to be a good move musically.
“It’s such an inspiring place,” he observed. “It caught me off guard. I didn’t know there was so much creative energy in that town, so it’s been wonderful.”
Hub: I was reading an article about a show you did after the mass shooting in Las Vegas and the death of Tom Petty in October 2017, and Zach was quoted that the performance that evening had turned out to feel pretty cathartic for everybody.
I don’t imagine that happens all the time, but it struck me as an example of something that music can do for people that sometimes they can’t do for themselves.
Williams: Yeah, and it goes both ways. Sometimes an audience will have a certain magic about them that just stops you dead in your tracks and helps you see something around you that you didn’t know was there. We would love to be a part of the stop sign that helps everybody just pause and ‘be’ for an hour and a half.
We were in Boston right after the bombing happened, and I remember that being the same feeling — like there is a weight in the air and there is something about sharing that time together in that little bar with strangers, just to be able to look around and see the humanity in it all and sort of hit a reset button.
Kanene: We saw Tom Petty play just a few months before he died, and I think the thing that was most inspiring to me was the people at that show, it was like every single kind of person you can imagine, and people who probably had little in common other than they wanted to sing the crap out of three songs.
I think sometimes that’s really what you’re going for — not to be a lowest common denominator, but to really show people that we’re not all terribly different from each other, and you know, to give a sense of togetherness and camaraderie to people. I think that really comes out when people are afraid and have been though something traumatic. You want to come together and heal together and celebrate together. I think that’s what most of us touring musicians want to achieve.