The Hilton Head Island native spends his summer on the road, crossing rivers with reggae legend Jimmy Cliff.
Trevor Hall had himself a pretty great summer: He spent it on the road opening for reggae godfather Jimmy Cliff, the man behind such sun-splashed classics as “The Harder They Come,” “Many Rivers to Cross” and “Sitting in Limbo.” The opportunity allowed Hall to bring his own brand of reggae-rock to huge venues like Central Park’s SummerStage, and he’s trying to maintain that momentum with his own national headlining tour this fall.So it’s understandable that Hall doesn’t often get back to Hilton Head Island, where he was raised until high school and where his parents still live. But though he now makes his home in Laguna Beach, Calif., Hall still maintains one connection to the island: the 843 area code. “I’ve had the same phone number ever since I got a phone,” he said.
Hall’s trek with Cliff this year was just the latest in a string of high-profile outings for the 23-year-old singer: He recently shared stages with reggae royalty like the Wailers and Ziggy Marley, and he’s appeared with Stevie Nicks, Ben Harper, Colbie Caillat, Rusted Root and Los Lobos. He counts Matisyahu — the rabbi of reggae — as a good friend; the two met at the Sundance Film Festival in 2006 and have remained close since. “He’s like a big brother,” said Hall.
But Hall’s love of music, which has led to six albums to date, began in Sea Pines. His dad kept a huge collection of music in the hallway, and as a boy, Hall would get curious and poke around the albums. “I would just pull out a CD, and if the cover looked cool I’d put it on,” he said. “That became my way of finding out about music.”
At 14, Hall picked up a guitar and started sniffing around the Internet for tabs, teaching himself to play as he went along. At 16, he left South Carolina for the Idyllwild School for the Arts, just outside Los Angeles. That’s when he started going to concerts — and surprising people when he told them he was from the South.
“People think I’m from Jamaica or something,” said Hall, who spent his down time on the island surfing off North Forest Beach. “I was young, and you have this fearlessness when you’re young. I was more stoked than anything. There was surfing and music (in California), and people are a little more open-minded. I had no problem jumping into it.”
Earlier this summer, Hall released the live document “Chasing the Flame: On the Road with Trevor Hall.” The Jimmy Cliff gig came along when the 62-year-old singer needed an opener for his Central Park show. Though Hall ended up following him around the country, he only got to speak with the elusive headliner a few times.
“He’s mysterious that way,” he said. “The times I did get to speak to him, he’s down to earth, a totally awesome guy. He moves like he’s 25. He has so much energy on stage.”
As for aspiring Hilton Head musicians who want to follow in his shoes, Hall offers this advice: Perform as much as you can. “When you play live you learn how to communicate with the crowd and get over some fears,” he said. “No matter where you are, you learn to just kind of do it and it teaches you a lot.”
TREVOR IN TOWN
Hall will perform at 10:30 p.m. Sept. 25 and 7 p.m. Sept. 26 at the Big Bamboo in Coligny Plaza; tickets are $12. For information, call 686-3443 or go to www.bigbamboocafe.com.