Slaton Glover knows what it means to feel pain. He served 13 years as a firefighter in Charleston and lost close friends in the Sofa Super Store fire. Years after that tragedy, he overcame his grief and married the love of his life — the widow of one of his fallen buddies. But it wasn't meant to be, and he soon watched as his love and his marriage unraveled out of his control.
On the day he signed his divorce papers — Nov. 22, 2013 — Glover wrote a song, "Change in the Wind," and dedicated his life to music.
He recalls, "After 13 years, I quit the fire department on a whim and said, 'This isn't for me anymore.'"
A year to the day after that shift in his life's trajectory, the band Glover leads, The Travelin' Kine, accepted the City Paper Music Award for favorite Americana band. It's a change in the wind, indeed.
It's been a fast rise for the alt-country collaboration that includes core members Dave Vaughan (mandolin), Jim Donnelly (drums), Mark Davis (harmonica), and Ryan Bonner (guitar and vocals). The band's inception occurred at the Thirsty Fish, a salty-dog bar on the riverside of Edisto Beach. It was Glover's first paying gig, and the bar's owner — a mutual friend — invited Vaughan out to hear the aspiring songwriter. Vaughan showed up with his mandolin in tow, and after an impromptu song together, Glover told him to stay put on stage.
"I've played with a lot of musicians, both good and bad, but I immediately felt this connection with Slaton," Vaughan recalls. "I liked his groove and his style, and it was easy for me to not just complement what he was doing but to actually mesh well together."
At the time — early 2013 — Glover was "begging for gigs," and bringing Vaughan into the fold (he's also a member of local groups Blue Plantation and James Justin & Company) helped to garner more attention from venue owners. As more accomplished musicians began to fill out the lineup, Glover realized that his dream was finally coming to fruition.
"It was always in the back of my mind that I wanted to be in a band," says Glover. "If I had a free minute, I didn't stop playing and writing. That's all I did."
At a time when his life could have been in shambles, Glover picked himself up and found strength in music. At his family's farm in Barnwell, he'd sit down each night working on lyrics and chords and vent his frustrations.
"Honestly, I'm not one that has any reason to complain about anything in my life, but I went through a year of the hardest times," Glover admits. "I can't imagine anything that could have been harder, and the way everything is happening now, I just feel so fortunate. Not long ago, I couldn't find a bar that would let me play for free, and now I'm getting calls almost every day."
In less than a year, The Travelin' Kine has played over 100 shows and built a resume that includes opening slots for Yarn and American Aquarium, the former of whom they'll open for again on Friday at the Pour House. In early 2015, Glover and the band will finally release their as-yet-titled debut album, recorded at Plowground Studios on Johns Island.
Today, he has a reason to remember that week in November fondly.
"Nov. 22 was a date that I thought I would dread for the rest of my life, but now it's a positive thing," says Glover. "This all feels like the Supreme Being is patting me on the back and saying, 'You're doing the right thing,' because for the first time in my life, I feel like I'm taking charge and heading in the right direction."