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CukoRakko: The Southeast's Best Kept Secret October 12, 2018 12:00

Words by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

Photos by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography 
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If you've paid the slightest bit of attention to this website in the last three years, you're well aware of my affection for CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival and Horse Pens 40. I was fortunate enough to cross paths with the Cuko team in early 2015, and it didn't take long to realize the impact that this festival would have on my life. What once started as a tiny, grassroots festival featuring predominantly Alabama-based bands has evolved into a bi-annual showcase of incredibly diverse talent from across the southeast and beyond.
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Each year, I leave that beautiful property thinking, "How can this weekend possibly be topped?" and the bar continues to be raised. I'll be the first to say that the team at Big Friendly Productions absolutely crushed it yet again, and their work never ceases to amaze me. And I would be remissed if I didn't mention that this festival would not be possible without the support of the title sponsor, Land Rover Birmingham, as well as Birmingham's Avondale Brewing CompanyTrimTab Brewing, and Cahaba Brewing Company.
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We should probably start off by talking a little history on Horse Pens 40HP40 is a privately owned outdoor nature park located in St. Clair County near Steele, Alabama. The park is situated atop Alabama's third-highest mountain, Chandler Mountain, in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. The park is known among the rock climbing community as a premier bouldering site in the American Southeast
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The natural rock shelters located in Horse Pens 40 have seen over 15,000 years of human habitation. The park contains ancient Indian burial grounds dating from the earliest inhabitants of this area, all the way up to the time of the Cherokee removal known as the "Trail of Tears".  During The American Civil War, the site was used as a hiding place for horses and their owners wishing to avoid invaders from the north and the Confederate recruiters and "bushwhackers". Once it was discovered by Confederate forces, Horse Pens 40 was then used for the storage of supplies to be used by Confederate troops as they passed nearby.
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It was home to one of the first outdoor bluegrass music festivals in the country, and by the 1970s had grown to be one of the largest in the world. The park served as a venue showcasing many legends of the bluegrass genre including Bill Monroe, Charlie Daniels, Ricky Skaggs, Lester Flatt, Ralph Stanley, Doc Watson, and Norman Blake. Emmylou Harris made her first public appearance at Horse Pens 40, "standing barefoot on a wooden door propped up on the rocks." During this period, the park was designated by the Alabama State Legislature as "The Home of the South's Bluegrass Music".
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Now, let's get down to the nitty gritty. Those who were lucky enough to make the Thursday night pre-party witnessed something truly special. Winston Ramble and The Pearl each laid down powerful thirty-minute sets, before joining forces for a full hour of blazing hot Grateful Dead covers. The level of collaboration was borderline overwhelming, with special guests such as Davis Little (Little Raine Band), Desmond Sykes (Tragic City), and Connor Broome (The Broomestix) joining the party early and often. A tremendous amount of Alabama talent was on hand for the opening set, only to be followed by Doctor Ocular of Johnson City, Tennessee. I was shocked to learn this band formed in late 2016, as their combination of acid jazz, jamtronica, and roots rock had a very cohesive feel all night. 
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Watch Ramble On Pearl perform "Shakedown Street" here:
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Video by Home Team Photography
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The Jauntee and Skydyed made the trek all the way from Colorado, and it's safe to say that they both left their mark on Alabama. Many of us had gotten our first taste of The Jauntee the previous weekend at Saturn Birmingham with Twiddle, and thankfully, we got 90-minutes this go round. A product of Berklee College of Music, it's clear that these guys will continue to climb the ladder of the festival scene.
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One of the most dynamic sets of the weekend came from The Fritz. This was just an all out dance party from start to finish. Frontman Jamar Woods straight up owns the stage and works a crowd about as well as anyone I've seen. It's rare to see the front man standing up behind the keys and synth, but these guys are far from you're average band. A combination of fresh originals, as well as covers of Talking Heads' "Life During Wartime," Michael Jackson's "Black or White" and "Don't Stop 'Til Ya Get Enough," and Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" will certainly remembered for years to come.
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Watch video footage of The Fritz performing "Life During Wartime" here:
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Video by Isom Morgan Photoraphy
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Friday night was capped off with a surprise late night set from The Illuminators, a brand new band out of Birmingham. You wouldn't believe it if you were there, but this was the band's first official public performance. These spontaneous late night collaborations will be amongst my best memories of the weekend. Members of The Fritz, The Jauntee, and the Tragic City horns even joined in on what seemed like a three-hour dance party.
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Saturday began with Huntsville's Lamont Landers Band, a recent finalist on 'Showtime's Live at The Apollo'. I had heard a fair amount of hype about these guys, and festival attendees were buzzing about their performance all weekend. Early James & The Latest was one of the more intriguing acts on this lineup for me. I can't get enough of their sound, which has been described as "a mishmash of blues, country, folk, and jazz with crooner-esque styling." Whoever came up with that hit the nail on the head. You've got to hear the pipes on (Early) James Mullis. You won't forget him.
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After catching Steady Flow at the CukoRakko Fam Jam back in May, there was quite a bit of anticipation for this set. This band hits you with an onslaught of upbeat funk from start to finish, with some of the funkiest riffs you'll find. It would be impossible to make it through 90-minutes of Steady Flow without a little movin' and shakin'. Guitarist Tanner Brown's use of the talk box adds an especially fun element to the table, as seen during the band's creative spin on Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean." Thankfully, this wouldn't be the last time we saw Brown on stage shredding. 
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Watch footage from Get Rhythm's drum circle here:
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Video by Home Team Photography
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I try my best to stay in tune with as many bands as possible, but there are always going to be a few that slip through the cracks. The New Orleans Suspects were a perfect example for me...until Saturday night. They're easily one of the most seasoned, accomplished groups to play this festival, and I haven't stopped listening to their music since leaving. Specific highlights came in the form of songs such as "Let's Get It Started," "Cocaine Jane," and a cover of The Wild Magnolia's "Peace Pipe." Do yourselves a favor and give those tracks a whirl.
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Following the Suspects, Skydyed took the festival in an entirely new direction, and I couldn't have been more impressed. While one could classify this band as 'jamtronica', a simple term couldn't possibly do them justice. Their placement as the final band on Saturday night couldn't have been more fitting. As I stood in front of the stage and looked around the amphitheater, hundreds of people were getting down in ways I can't even describe. It was a perfect picture in many ways. 
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Perhaps the biggest surprise of the weekend came from The Talismen, the youngest band to ever hit the stage at CukoRakko. The Montgomery-natives are scattered across three different colleges, but you would never know it. The original plan was for two thirty-minute pop-up sets under the pavilion, between sets on the main stage. It didn't take long to decide that these guys deserved an additional late-night set. Word quickly spread across the festival grounds, and the band took full advantage of the opportunity.
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The level of improvisation displayed on The Rolling Stones' "Loving Cup," Otis Redding's "Hard to Handle," and Phish's "Chalkdust Torture" was ridiculous. Tanner Brown, Wildman Steve, the Tragic City horns, and others joined in for Kool & The Gang's "Get Down Tonight," which was sandwiched perfectly with Hot Chocolate's "You Sexy Thing." Equally as impressive were a few Talismen originals: "Strange Man" and "The Lawnchair Song." Get ready, because you'll be hearing a lot more about this band in the future. 
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Watch The Talismen performing "Chalkdust Torture" > "Whole Lotta Love" > "Chalkdust Torture" here:
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Sunday started off with one of Birmingham's hottest acts, The Brook & The Bluff. This was a new band for me, but after hearing of their recent signing with The Paradigm Agency, I knew that we were in for a treat. This band's unique sound and beautiful harmony vocals made for a perfect early Sunday set. Another Birmingham act, Eat a Peach, would take the stage next and lay down a scorching 90-minutes of Allman Brothers Band classics. All five members of this band also perform with the Black Jacket Symphony, and I can't imagine there is a better ABB tribute out there. You can see for yourself with the video footage of "Melissa" below. 
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Watch footage of Eat a Peach performing "Melissa" here:
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The living legend Charlie Hunter would then close out the weekend with his amazing trio. I had been waiting to see Charlie perform live for many years, and he was even better than expected. Watching this guy essentially play bass and lead guitar simultaneously is nothing short of mind blowing. For this performance, Hunter was joined by Grammy Award winning drummer Derrick Phillips (Hank Williams Jr.) and Ms. Dara Tucker, whose vocals had all of Horse Pens 40 melting. This was yet another Sunday that we'll all be talking about for years to come. 
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At the end of the day, I just can't say enough about this festival and the team behind it. I consider it one of my greatest honors to be involved with CukoRakko. Having the ability to live out these magical experiences at Horse Pens 40 is something that I will never take for granted. I can say "thank you" enough to the Schultz family for their willingness to share this magical property with us. The CukoRakko family is beyond special, so I won't even try to cheapen it with words. You know who you are. And for everyone else, if you ever have the opportunity to witness live music at this incomparable venue, I advise you run, not walk, towards that opportunity. Until next time...
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The Road to CukoRakko: Lamont Landers Band September 28, 2018 13:24

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Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
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Photo by James Champion
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If you're a music lover in Alabama, you've more than likely heard about an amazing grassroots festival known as CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival. Founded in 2014, the festival has been held twice a year at Horse Pens 40 in Steele, AL. As we prepare for another unforgettable CukoRakko weekend on October 5th - 7th, we're sitting down and getting to know a few of the performers on the 2018 Fall Festival lineup. For our thirdinstallment, we caught up with Lamont Landers, front man of one of Alabama's hottest acts: Lamont Landers Band.  You can catch Lamont and company kicking things off on Saturday, October 6th. See below for the full interview, as well as video footage of the band performing their tune "Into the Fold."
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Lamont Landers Band got rolling back in 2014, correct? Tell me about how this thing came together. 
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Lamont: Yes sir. Back in 2014, most of us we're going to the University of Alabama. A mutual musician friend of Kevin (Canada) and mine had asked me if I would be cool with him putting a band together, and of course, I jumped at the chance. He got Kevin on a gig and since then, other members have came and gone, but Kevin was day one. Kevin knew our drummer Bowen (Robertson), and I met him out and about playing around Tuscaloosa.
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We stayed there for a couple of years; playing every bar in town, I moved to North Alabama...eventually landing in Huntsville. Kevin moved to Decatur. Bowen moved to Nashville. Somewhere along the way, we met the final piece of our band, the glue, the x factor: Jaraven Hill, our bass player. 
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I see you guys are from Decatur. North Alabama has certainly been known for it's musical roots. How much of an impact did the whole Shoals scene make on you as a young musician?
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Lamont: The Shoals had an indirect influence for sure. The music that came out of that area and the impact it had has resonated with me my entire life. It certainly made the dream of having an impact on the world through music, even while being from Alabama, seem entirely possible.
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The band recently made a big splash on 'Showtime at the Apollo'. How did you find yourselves in that position? What type of impact has this exposure given the band?
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Lamont: It was a surreal thing. It all happened through e-mails and stuff behind the scenes that led to us getting picked to be a part of it. It has provided us with some level of credibility, in the sense that if you can play the Apollo Theatre and walk away unscathed, then you can play just about anywhere in the world.
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We're living in a much different musical era these days. Things have changed quite a bit since we were kids. Tell me about the advantages and challenges this presents to a young, up-and-coming act.
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Lamont:  You're 100% right. Times have changed. I sometimes feel like I was born in the gap between generations as far as the music business is concerned. The advantages are: you have every tool at your disposal to try to make it, the business is decentralized, and if you can make it on your own, you hold all of the leverage.
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The disadvantage is that when everyone is making noise, literally and figuratively, it's hard to filter through that. There are no barriers to entry now. You don't have to be a musician to be a "musician." Sometimes all it takes are streams of consciousness or a slew of disingenuous Instagram posts and, you'll be lauded as some visionary.
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This was supposed to have a point, oh yeah, to the kids who are up and coming. Just stay true to yourself, play the game the way you want to play it, and if you make it you make it. If you don't, you can at least say you really lived life and had fun doing it.
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What's on the horizon for the band as you look towards closing out 2018?
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Lamont: The good stuff. We are finally releasing our debut album, by the end of November at the latest. We are extremely proud of it. It's been a labor of love, and I think displays our growth as a band over these last four years. 
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You'll be performing on Saturday, October 6th at CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival. What can attendees expect from you guys?
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LamontAttendees can expect some of the finest funk & soul music in Alabama, paired with a dash of tasteful musicianship. They should expect a good time. 
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Watch Lamont Landers Band perform "Into the Fold" here: 
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The Road To CukoRakko: Beck Hall & Taylor Goodwin of The Pearl September 11, 2018 23:04

Photos by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography

Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

If you're a music lover in Alabama, you've more than likely heard about an amazing grassroots festival known as CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival. Founded in 2014, the festival has been held twice a year at Horse Pens 40 in Steele, AL. As we prepare for another unforgettable CukoRakko weekend on October 5th - 7th, we're sitting down and getting to know a few of the performers on the 2018 Fall Festival lineup. For our first installment, we caught up with Beck Hall (bass) and Taylor Goodwin (lead guitar) of The Pearl. See below for the full interview, and make sure to catch The Pearl supporting BIG Something at Zydeco on Friday, September 14th. Stay tuned for further exclusive CukoRakko preview coverage!

Click Here: Purchase Tickets to CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival 

While this band is newer project, you guys have been active members of the Birmingham music scene for years. How did The Pearl ultimately come together?
 
Taylor: We met each over the last couple years through our friends in the music scene at jam sessions and pick-up gigs. Beck has also been putting on these warehouse parties for the last few years, inviting local players to come collaborate with one another. At last years Annual Christmas Jam, we really started noticing a connection.
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Beck: Taylor was starting his final semester in Nashville, while I had started booking gigs as The Pearl as well as Honey & Pop, just using them as excuses to play with different people (often with Devonte on drums.) I think that big "AHA" moment occurred the first time we played together as a trio in March. After that, every gig we booked as The Pearl was the trio were are now.
 
You can tell that there is a strong chemistry amongst the band already. What type of playing history is there amongst the three of you?
 
Taylor: We’ve all known and listened to each other for a while now, which makes it a lot easier to understand and meet somebody where they are, musically speaking It helps that we're all really tight friends, so honest communication comes easily. 
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Beck: It also helps that we're all practice junkies.. so a lot of work normally done in rehearsal is ready at the start of practice. So, although we haven’t played together exclusively for an incredibly long time, the chemistry came pretty quickly.
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You guys have a notably upbeat, powerful presence. How is the song structure working for you thus far? What is your approach to improvisation?
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Beck: Glad our presence comes across this way! Seems like the key is never taking the music too seriously to laugh at a flub or take risks, while at the same time doing all we can to prepare. 
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Taylor: Regarding song structure, it’s sort of case by case… our originals have lengthy through-composed forms and are probably the hardest songs we play, whereas some of the music we play is a simple vamp/groove that we sort of use as a departure point to improvise from. 
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Beck: In terms of our approach to jamming, we really don’t talk about it very much at all or plan our jams. We try to just let things happen naturally, which has been feeling great so far. 
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Have you made any plans to hit the studio?
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Taylor: Sooner than later, hopefully. We’re currently focused on broadening our original repertoire and putting together the best live performances we can. We’re also doing our best to capture these live performances, which we might could use to put together our first release. 
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Beck: We've been writing a good amount of material though. I think we wrote four full compositions in two weeks during July. So, yeah, the live shows have been a big focus, because everything's been happening pretty quickly. It's good to know that we can crank out (what we consider to be) quality music at such a consistent pace. 
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Tell me about the general grind associated with starting a new band at this point in your lives. What all goes on behind the scenes?
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Beck: Well, frankly there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes when compared to starting a band from scratch, say, ten years ago. For one thing, just getting all the social media started takes quite a while, as you have to have original content (both audio and video or both covers and originals), create an in depth Facebook, Instagram, Soundcloud, and Twitter page. There are lots of things you have got to have these days that, in past, weren’t quite as important. Also, practicing twice or more a week is a pretty heavy investment, considering we all have side gigs on top of this one. It’s a labor of love to get a serious new project started, but definitely worth it.
 
There seems to be a nice buzz surrounding The Pearl already. You've played quite a few rooms around the city in a short time. How do you see the schedule progressing in the future?
 
Beck: The local scene has really showed us some serious support for being so new to the scene, and we can’t thank them enough. Hopefully we’ll continue to grow at the rate we have been. We have all been playing around for quite a while and we chatted at the beginning about how easy it is to get stuck in that bar circuit, which happens to so many groups.. so we opted to really work hard to have a product ready and worthy of the the bigger stages as to start there instead of in bars. It’s been working out great playing the club/theater size venues from the get go. Bands tend to gain momentum much quicker from those shows. In terms of the future, we have some incredible shows coming up, but really plan to hit the ground running, in terms of touring more, at the beginning of next year.
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I know you have quite a few things cooking for the later part of 2018. What can fans expect and what are you guys most excited about moving forward?
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Beck: I’d say the thing we’re most excited about at the moment is being welcomed so warmly into the amazing crew surrounding the CukoRakko Music and Arts Festival during the first weekend in October. It’s one of our favorite festivals, put on by some of our favorite people. We’re going to be opening the festival this year with a very special set and playing some shows to get people warmed up for the event. It’ll be amazing playing alongside such acts as The Charlie Hunter Trio, The New Orleans Suspects, and many many other amazing national and regional acts.
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We’re also excited to be playing this Friday night (9/14/18) with Big Something at Zydeco. We also have some really awesome Halloween and Holiday plans that we can’t quite talk about yet, but please stay tuned, as more dates will be released in the coming weeks!
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Listen to The Pearl's "Pudding and Pie" here:
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CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival Confirms 2018 Lineup August 07, 2018 16:20

 

Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography

Festival organizers have revealed the initial lineup for CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival, which returns Horse Pens 40 in Steele, AL for the fifth consecutive year on October 6th - 8th. This annual, grassroots music and arts festival has seen tremendous growth with each year, and 2018 looks to be no exception. The Fall Fest lineup includes veteran nationally touring acts such as The New Orleans Suspects, Charlie Hunter Trio, and The Fritz, as well as Steady FlowThe JaunteeEat a Peach (Allman Brothers Tribute)The Brook & The BluffLamont Landers Band, Early James & The LatestSkydyed, and The Pearl

Advance general admission tickets and VIP packages can be purchased at CukoRakko.com.  Stay tuned for info on the official Thursday night pre-party, future updates, exclusive artist interviews, and everything you need to know about CukoRakko. See below for further info on what to expect from this year's lineup.

As part of our CukoRakko preview coverage, we're giving away a pair of weekend passes to the festival. To enter the contest, head over to the Live & Listen Facebook page, share this post, and tag a friend in the comments section. Make sure your settings are designated to public, so we can see the shared post on our end. 

Artwork by Mike Sears: Light Train Studio

The New Orleans Suspects

New Orleans Suspects began playing together in 2009 as a pick-up band at the Maple Leaf in New Orleans. Comprised of some of the most seasoned, highly respected players in NOLA, the group called themselves The Unusual Suspects. Their chemistry was undeniable and by the summer of 2011 they decided to tour full-time, renaming the band New Orleans Suspects. They quickly began attracting large crowds from San Francisco to New York. They've released four CDs and established themselves as one of New Orleans’ best supergroups.

Charlie Hunter Trio

With a career spanning 16 years and almost 20 albums, Charlie Hunter consistently ups his game as an innovative writer and bandleader. He has worked with the likes of Norah Jones , Mos Def, John Mayer, D’Angelo and countless others. He is widely considered the authority on the seven and eight - string guitar, and continues to stun audiences with his ability to simultaneously bust out tasty bass parts, melodic leads and swinging rhythms.

Hunter has previously recorded for the venerable Blue Note label, Concord, Ropeadope, GroundUP and others. His recent independent venture is steered by his motivation to release music that most inspires him. Critics have touted his genius technique, but it's his profound artistic sensibility that propels his original music. Hunter's signature style of writing and performing has secured his place as one of today's great guitarists.

The Fritz

The Fritz is a soul-driven dance rock band hailing from Asheville, NC. The group’s aggressive approach to funk, soul, and rock creates a sound that is uniquely their own. Their high-energy, danceable songs provide a platform for each member to shine. With powerful vocals, climactic solos, and tight grooves, The Fritz has built a devoted following and is captivating audiences everywhere.

Originally formed in the rehearsal spaces of University of North Florida's School of Music, The Fritz discovered an immediate chemistry. Drawing on influences such as Prince, Talking Heads and Jimi Hendrix, the quintet integrated their diverse musical tastes and began writing music together. 

With their college days behind them, the Fritz soon set their eyes on the mountains of Western North Carolina, eventually settling in Asheville in July 2011. After the release of their 2012 debut album, Bootstrap, the band launched into a near-constant touring schedule. With appearances at festivals such as Hulaween, Wakarusa, and Catskill Chill, the band quickly gained a reputation as a live act not to be missed.

Steady Flow

From the Heart of the Midwest, Steady Flow brings a unique style of powerful funk music like you've never heard it before. Formed in 2012 by 18 year old, soul guitarist extraordinaire, Tanner Brown, and his older brother, Ky "Goonie-Mom" Brown on bass guitar, the group has now transformed into a six-piece funk-powerhouse, quickly claiming their spot as one of the best live acts around.

In Steady Flow's short existence, the group has taken on music festivals such as North Coast, Summer Camp, Phases of the Moon, and the list goes on. The band is constantly turning heads at every performance as their hard hitting Funk Rock compositions shake the room and force all audiences to dance, rage, & simply feel good.

Steady Flow released their first EP, "The Oneoff Sessions" in 2013, and their debut album, "Loud." in June 2015. The band released their newest full length album, "Do You Like That?" in April 2017! Do not miss a live show near you. Steady Flow is "The Future Of Funk."

The Jauntee

In a world filled with instant gratification, gimmicky over saturation and a lack of true improvisation, The Jauntee pays tribute to music’s ability to transcend simple entertainment and cultivate a truly distinctive experience. The Jauntee has fostered a musical community based on a breadth of original material that engages fans through nightly exploration and risk taking. Averaging over one hundred shows a year, with each containing a unique set list and their own special improvisational moments, the band is constantly expanding upon what defines them and their live performances.

With almost a decade’s worth of touring experience; appearances at major festivals such as Peach Fest, Catskill Chill, and Resonance; and 36 states toured with stops at national touring staples such as Brooklyn Bowl, Georgia Theatre, and the Paradise Rock Club, The Jauntee have been nurturing a fanbase of dedicated followers who are inspired by their music and willing to travel to see what the band has in store next. Fans that thoroughly analyze their music, track their set lists and passionately promote their music. The Jauntee makes each night an exciting prospect of a new shared experience with bust-outs, fresh jamming, poignant covers, and accessible songwriting.

Their upcoming live album “ALWAYS NEVER KNOWING” is a quintessential selection of live works from the band’s 2017 two-night-run at The Bridge Sound & Stage in their hometown of Cambridge, MA. It features 16 tracks that were professionally recorded, mixed, and mastered by sound engineer Alex Allinson. It showcases the band’s masterful playing and inspiring ability to take their original music and create something uniquely theirs night after night. It also features nine previously unreleased tracks that have quickly become staples of their live show. Experience the band in their purest element, pushing the boundaries of their sound while sharing that trip with their fans.
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Eat a Peach (An Allman Brothers Tribute)

Eat A Peach consists of five guys from Birmingham that share a mutual respect for the Allman Brothers music. With Will Cash on guitar, Matt Casey on guitar, Peyton Grant on keys, Mark Lanter on drums, and Aaron Branson on bass, what was once just an idea in high school came to life in the summer of 2008. All the members found their way back to Birmingham and back out on the music scene again. After a lot of rehearsing and learning tunes, the boys were ready to take the classic songs to the stage. With a great deal of local success, the band decided to hit the road playing college towns, private events, and festivals. Keep your eyes peeled for Eat A Peach in a town near you! Anyone who is a fan of the Allman Brothers Band is sure to have a great time at an Eat A Peach show.

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The Brook & The Bluff

Established in Birmingham, AL, The Brook & The Bluff is a four-man band that has been traveling and recording music since late 2016. The group consists of frontman Joseph Settine, drummer John Canada, guitarist Alec Bolton and bassist Fred Lankford. 

The guys have quickly become recognized for their evocative blend of instrumental talent and vocal harmony. These elements are readily apparent in the band's first single, “Masks.” Released in September of 2016, the song has helped spur the band forward in their musical pursuits. 

The group's first year as a full band has been widely successful. From charting on Spotify's US and Canada Viral 50 Playlists, performing at the NAMM shows in both Nashville and Anaheim, and selling out shows in Atlanta, Birmingham and Nashville, the band has had an exhilarating 2017. The band will be releasing a variety of new music in 2018!

Lamont Landers Band

Born and raised in Alabama, Lamont Landers grew up absorbing the soulful sounds of the south that surrounded him. At the age of 14 he taught himself how to play guitar, and at the age of 19 began singing. He spent years quietly honing his talents behind his bed room doors, listening to records by Stevie Wonder, Al Green, Sly & The Family Stone, and Ray Charles on repeat. At the age of 22 a candid video recorded by his sister of him performing the Ray Charles’ classic “Hit the Road Jack” went viral on YouTube, and with the help of Reddit.com garnered over 400,000 views overnight. His YouTube channel now has over 11,000 subscribers and over 1.9 million views, and his four-piece outfit, The Lamont Landers Band has since become a staple in college towns and perform across the southeast bringing their joyful noise of Soul, Funk, and R&B to audiences of all sizes.

And now with their crowd-pleasing performance on Showtime at the Apollo, the Lamont Landers Band is destined to become a household name.

Early James & The Latest

Birmingham based Americana band that attempts to re-spin what has been spun before. A mishmash of Blues, Country, Folk, and Jazz with crooner-esque styling.  While drawing influences from both old and new, we attempt a unique spin on something that has been spun many times over. A combination of genres that will not only knock your socks off, but put them back on for you afterwards.

Skydyed

Skydyed is a three-piece band that blends cutting edge electronic production with live instrumentation from Fort Collins, CO.

Featuring Andrew Slattery on bass synths and bass guitar, Max Doucette on guitar and keys, and Craig Babineau on drums, the band integrates generations of the state’s extensive musical heritage with their own deep-seated ties to the electronic music scene. With roots in rock, funk and jazz, Skydyed has created their own, diverse sound that intertwines organic live drums, bass and guitar through soulful jam, hard-hitting bass and profound break-beats.

With their unique and advanced production, Skydyed has established itself as a can’t miss performance that bridges the gap between EDM and live music.

The Pearl

The Pearl is a product of collaboration... a natural progression of musicians playing next to one another in different settings with different people, starting in 2016. All three members are quite good at keeping themselves musically busy, so as the gigs began to overlap, side projects and pop-up shows, typically featuring a mixture of this trio with other local talent, starting becoming more frequent.

As musicians, they also share a common thread in that all three work exceptionally hard between shows to practice and grow as musicians and people. Each member, even before they had met, had developed borderline excessive practice routines so, in hindsight, forming a trio was the move to make. 

Finally, in the Spring of 2018, when Taylor moved back home from Nashville to finish his masters in music education from Belmont, all it took was one trio gig for The Pearl to start writing, booking, and practicing together many hours a week. 

Here we are, just a little ways down the road, with full sets of original material + pages of cover songs, pulling crowds to some of the areas most popular venues & festivals.
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CukoRakko Fam Jam Sparks New Musical Tradition In Birmingham May 23, 2018 13:05

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Words by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
Photos by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography
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The Birmingham music scene continues to build its reputation as a true hotbed of talent, and this past weekend was a perfect example. In recent years, Avondale Brewery has established itself as one of the city's premier music venues, hosting many of the nation's hottest touring acts on any given night. Saturday introduced an entirely new concept to the brewery, as organizers of CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival hosted the inaugural CukoRakko Fam Jam, a one-day music and arts festival right in the heart of Birmingham. While plans are still in place for a full weekend festival at Horse Pens 40 in Steele, AL this fall, it certainly seems that the spring edition of CukoRakko has found a suitable home for the foreseeable future. The Fam Jam was presented by Jaguar Land Rover Birmingham, and as always, the team at Big Friendly Productions truly brought this event to life. 
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Known for featuring a steady variety of both local and national talent, CukoRakko has built a loyal grassroots following since its inception in 2014. While the Fam Jam was technically 'scaled back' in comparison to a full weekend of music, there was no shortage of spectacular performances on this day. As the 'Fam Jam' moniker suggests, CukoRakko also prides itself on being a true family-friendly event. In addition to the music, attendees participated in activities such as Soul Flow Yoga with Union Yoga, Didgeridoo Workshop with MacGavin Woodworks, and the always popular drum circle with John Scalici of Get Rhythm
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The festivities began at noon with a powerful performance from Barnaby Rudge, a homegrown 'supergroup' performing for just the second time. The lineup features many familiar faces, including members of Little Raine Band and Festival Expressions, as well as local favorites Taylor Hunnicut, Jason Grubbs, and Beck Hall. This group has the cohesive sound and chemistry of a full-time, veteran band, and we will be anxiously awaiting their next performance. Highlights included a mix of various originals, as well as covers of The Allman Brothers' "Dreams"and "Ain't Wastin' Time No More" and The Grateful Dead's "Terrapin Station." If you managed to miss this set, do yourself a favor and make Barnaby Rudge a priority moving forward. 
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South Alabama's Jimmy Lumpkin & The Revival would take the stage next. This band brings a unique flavor of Americana folk rock to the table, with vocals that will send chills down your spine. There were moments where I felt I was listening to a blend of Gary Clark Jr. and The Black Keys, with hints of Van Morrison and Ryan Adams. While this was my first live experience with this band, I thoroughly enjoyed their originals such as "My Name Is Love" and "Troubled Soul." Every music festival can use its fair share of Grateful Dead covers, and the decision to close out the set with "Franklin's Tower" was well received by the Birmingham faithful. The Gulf Coast has a true gem with this band, and there is no telling what they will accomplish when its all said and done. 
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When rumors began to surface of a Toubab Krewe reunion last fall, we could only hope that they might make their way down to Alabama. One would be hard pressed to find a more original, unique band on the road today. Blending the music of West Africa with traditional American roots, this instrumental powerhouse brings a sound like no other to the table. From the opening notes of this set, the entire crowd was dialed in. These guys command your undivided attention, exploring on instruments that most have never even seen in a live setting. Justin Perkins' work on the kona/ngori was mesmerizing, and it's clear that he and guitarist Drew Heller's history dates back to their teenage years. Percussionist Luke Quaranta and drummer Terrance Houston are absolute beasts, while bassist Justin Kimmel holds down an unmatchable groove throughout. Highlights from the set included originals such as "Hang Tan, "Bamana Niya," Nirvana the Buffalo," "Devil Woman," and the latest single "That Damn Squash." Here's to hoping that Toubab Krewe makes their way down to Alabama much more often.
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Next up on the lineup was Steady Flow, a young, energetic, power funk group from the heart of the midwest. I was particularly eager to see these guys in action, as they have earned high praise at other major festivals such as Summer Camp, North Coast, and Phases of the Moon in recent years. The group is led by brothers Tanner (guitar) and Ky (bass) Brown, who have been playing together since a very early age. While Steady Flow is a predominantly instrumental funk project, Tanner Brown works in a 'steady' amount of vocal work on the talkbox, which always draws a nice response from the crowd. This element was seen in full effect during a cover of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean," as well as a medley that included segments of Luniz's "I Got Five On It" and 2 Pac & Dr. Dre's "California Love." Keyboardist Tay Brown showcased his vocal work on the original "Bottle of Funk," while a flawless instrumental take on James Gang's "Funk No. 49" pushed the energy to another level. Additional highlights came in the form of originals such as "Do You Like That?," "But Can You Dance?," and "China." After my first jam-packed, 90-minute taste of Steady Flow, I would agree that these guys could very well be "the future of funk."
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This year's headliner was The Russ Liquid Test, a three-piece live electronic act from New Orleans. Led by multi-instrumentalist Russ Liquid, this band blends elements funk, jazz, and electronic in a very tasteful way. Guitarist Andrew Block and drummer Deven Trusclair round out the lineup with roots that stretch deep into the New Orleans jazz scene. Russ is as dynamic of a performer as you will find on the festival circuit, constantly rotating between the keys, trumpet, and saxophone. Block's guitar work was equally impressive and a perfect compliment to Trusclair's powerful rhythm behind the kit. For those looking to dance and get down, Russ Liquid Test provided just that. For those looking to zone in on some mind blowing, technical musicianship, these guys delivered in every way. Highlights from the set included originals such as "You & Me," "World Gone Crazy," and "Honesty." While I don't typically dive too deep into the live electronic world, I was more than impressed and couldn't have enjoyed my first RLT experience any more. 
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If you were looking to continue the party past 11:00 PM, the three-piece house/techno group DYNOHUNTER had you covered. Hailing from Boulder, Colorado, this group is truly a breath of fresh air to the world of electronic dance music. A blend of bass, synth, drums, and saxophone made for a perfect, high-energy dance party to cap off the evening. When I think back on this set, the words "smooth" and "uplifting" come to mind. This trio isn't as much on the heavy/wompy side of EDM. The music was consistently groovy and uplifting. One couldn't help but let loose and get down as soon as they walked in the door.  
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In true CukoRakko fashion, the inaugural Fam Jam had something to offer just about every style of music fan. As the Birmingham music scene continues to flourish, this was a perfect opportunity to bring this festival-style concept to Avondale Brewery. Those looking for the weekend camping experience are in luck, as festival organizers are already locking in the lineup for the fall festival in early October. Stay tuned for further updates as they are made available!
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Watch a clip from Steady Flow's set here:
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Watch multiple clips from The Russ Liquid Test's set here:
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The Road to CukoRakko: Luke Quaranta of Toubab Krewe May 15, 2018 16:32

 

Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

If you're a music lover in Alabama, you've more than likely heard about an amazing grassroots festival known as CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival. Founded in 2014, the festival has been held twice a year at Horse Pens 40 in Steele, AL. As this concept has continued to evolve each year, festival producers have decided to bring the spring festival to Birmingham's Avondale Brewing Company on Saturday, May 19th, while still having plans for a full-weekend festival in October.

The spring festival will now be known as CukoRakko Fam Jam, a one-day event held in the heart of Birmingham which features a wide variety of world class talent from across the country. As we prepare for another unforgettable CukoRakko experience, we're sitting down and getting to know a few of this year's performers. For our next installment, we caught up with Luke Quaranta, percussionist of Toubab Krewe. See below for the full interview and stay tuned for further coverage throughout the weekend.

Share this post directly from the Live & Listen Facebook page and tag a friend in the comments section for a chance to win a pair of tickets to CukoRakko Fam Jam. We will announce the winner on Friday, May 18th.



Some music cannot be found on a map or within iTunes categories. Some music is so original it seems snatched from the great, invisible substrata that runs below all human activity, a sound aching to be born without a flag or fixed allegiance – free, questing, overflowing with immediate, tangible life. This is the music of Toubab Krewe, the vibrant Asheville, NC-based instrumental powerhouse that creates a sonic Pangaea that lustily swirls together rock, African traditions, jam sensibilities, international folk strains and more.  While nearly impossible to put into any box, it takes only a few moments to realize in a very palpable way that one is face-to-face with a true original who recognizes no borders in a march towards a muscular, original, globally switched-on sound.   

Formed in 2005, Toubab Krewe has tenaciously honed their craft through relentless touring and a fierce dedication to carving out something they can truly call their own.  This is a band that actively draws inspiration from whatever source floats into their purview, something they've exhibited in their decade of heavy gigging, including regular appearances at major U.S. festivals like Bonnaroo, High Sierra, Wakarusa and New York City's Summer Stage, and abroad at such legendary gatherings as Festival In The Desert in Mali, The Shanghai World Music Festival, and The Festival of World Music in Sines, Portugal.  

Their globe-hopping propensity has made them an emerging headliner at their hometown's famous Orange Peel and a familiar face at similar venues throughout the country. Whether on their own or collaborating with luminaries like the Last Poets' Umar Bin Hassan or Uncle Earl's Rayna Gellert, Toubab Krewe has already earned the attention and respect of a broad musical community.   

Toubab carries echoes of African greats like Ali Farka Toure, Orchestra Baobab and Salif Keita, no doubt picked up during the group's travels to study and live in Guinea, Ivory Coast and Mali.  But what truly differentiates Toubab Krewe from other Statesiders inspired by African music is how they innovate on what they've learned instead of simply recreating tradition. Toubab Krewe carves out a new trail honoring the African originators they admire by making something alive and contemporary. 

Click Here: Purchase CukoRakko Fam Jam Tickets

Let’s start off with some general history on the band. You guys got started in Asheville back in 2005. How did this project come together?

Luke: We started in 2005, and we had actually been friends for a lot longer than that. The project really came together around our friendships formed at Warren Wilson College. A few of the guys had been friends well before that. Our kora/ngoni player Justin Perkins and our guitarist Drew Heller grew up together in Asheville; playing music for a number of years. Our original drummer, Teal Brown, also grew up with those guys since the middle school days. They had some bands throughout high school and college.

I met the guys during the college years, and we had all developed this mutual interest in West African music. I was a part of a drumming group on campus, and then I went to Guinea, West Africa to study music in 1999. Four of us in the group (at that time) went to Guinea and Ivory Coast to study in 2001. So, those were the roots of it all. The interest in West African music and traveling to West Africa. Drew and Justin actually took a trip to Bamako, Mali in 2004 for about four months, and it was when they returned from that trip that we started in the band in 2005. 

I think on that trip...their eyes were opened to not only all of the traditional music that we had been studying, but also more of the contemporary scene in Bamako. Bands playing clubs, mixing Western instrumentation and more modern instrumentation with the traditional music. They got a real sense that we could play a lot of the music that we had come to really love, but also in a style that was true to our American roots. 

It was a cool moment, man. We started the band in '05 and cut the first record in April of that year. I think we released it in June of that year and started hitting the road, playing festivals, and never really looking back. We ended up being on the road for like 10 years, up until 2014. We played through that year, and that's when we decided to take a bit of a break from the road. 

I'd say that was well deserved. As you said, the band mixes the musical styles of West Africa and America. It's quite unique to say the least. I read that "toubab" means "foreigner," and "krewe" is in reference to New Orleans. Would you say that there is much of a New Orleans influence?
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Luke: Yeah...I think so, man. A lot of Americana roots. A lot of roots in old time and string music from Western North Carolina. Especially because Drew and Justin grew up there; playing banjos, fiddles, and what not. We all have such an appreciation for New Orleans music. At the time, it really reflected what we were doing, which was experimenting in a style that had really deep roots. I think a lot of the same things have happened in New Orleans music. 
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People come here (New Orleans) from all over the world. There's a lot of music from the Caribbean and African traditions...which are kind of morphed into their own styles here in New Orleans. That's kind of what we felt like we were doing. Studying the music of West Africa, and then also mixing it with things we grew up with. Trying to create a fresh sound with an authentic voice of our own. So yeah, I think New Orleans has always been a big influence. 
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I would imagine that the rich, eclectic culture of Asheville served as a great environment for a young band. How vital has the Asheville culture been on the evolution of Toubab Krewe?
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Luke: Yeah, I know that it was a great place to grow up for Drew and Justin. There's so much amazing traditional music there. As we came up as a band, the city was growing quite a bit. I think there was a real openness to different styles of music in town. The feedback that we got and the following we developed early on was really special. Asheville was just a really supportive place. I think a lot of artists and more musicians were moving there at the time. It really was a great place for us to start out as a band. Experimenting with music and making it our own. 
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Sounds about right. So, as a percussionist, would you say that your setup and overall style is significantly different than that of a more traditional american band?
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Luke: Yeah, for me, it definitely is. I think it is also for Justin. We have the traditional instruments in the group...drums, bass, and guitar are obviously integrated at the root of most American bands. Justin playing the kora, the 21-string harp from West Africa, and also the 12-string kamel ngonia is obviously much different. For me, the traditional West African instruments that I integrated into the band were the djembe, dunun, sangban, kenkeni, and then there is this log drum called the kryn that I always use as a part of my setup. There is also this metal scraper from southern Mali called the karenye. 
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More recently, I've used the sangban and kenkeni on either side of the djembe...kind of like a conga setup. They're traditional West African drums, and everything that I've brought to the band is typically West African in nature and in terms of instrumentation. I guess my background has included a lot of music from Guinea, Ivory Coast, and Mali, so I've been bringing that language into the band, as well. 
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In that sense, I think what I bring is different than maybe a traditional percussionist in a contemporary American band. They might integrate more congas, bells, blocks, racks, timbales, and stuff like that. Those instruments are more indigenous to Cuban music and music from South America and the Caribbean. So yeah, my setup is pretty unique and specifically West African in nature.
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Watch Toubab Krewe's official video for "That Damn Squash" here:
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Very cool. So, back in March, the band released Stylo, the first studio album since 2010. How long had this material been in the works? 
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Luke: At the end of the run...towards the end of 2014, we were thinking it was probably a good idea to take some time off from the road. We went into the studio in Atlanta with the current roster, which includes Terrance Houston from New Orleans on drums and Justin Kimmel from Brooklyn on bass. Our good friend, Vic Stafford, had revived Southern Tracks Recording Studio in Decatur, GA. He had been doing some new projects from there. We went in for about ten days and cut the majority of the record in late 2014. It was a great session. A lot of the material came about from previous sessions...really just jammin' and flushing out ideas. Longer form jam sessions, which were recorded. 
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We would then go back and instill some of those ideas into tunes. Justin and Drew brought some original tunes to the table. There are some reworked traditional arrangements, which we had done quite a bit on previous records. We kind of sat on it for a couple of years and didn't touch it much until early 2017. Drew, Justin, and I got together over a number of sessions in Asheville and Brooklyn to edit, overdub, and mix the record. It was cool, because all of the material was from late 2014, when we were really tight as a band, touring consistently. 
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We might have been a little burnt out as well, so when we came back to it, we came back with really fresh ears. It was a fresh experience, and we took a creative license to the mixing and editing process. This allowed us to shape the record into the final product. It was a cool process. We were able to encapsulate two time periods of the band. I'm really happy with the way it came out. We had a really good time with it. 
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That's amazing. It seems like the response has been strong, and the album has gotten some great exposure. You mentioned the three to four year touring hiatus. How vital was that time off for the band, and how has the return treated you so far?
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Luke: I think it was really good timing for us. Drew had just started a family and had a young baby. He had time to really focus on his family. I took the opportunity to move to New Orleans in September of 2014. That was great for me. I really got to branch out and play music with a lot of different people here. I know Justin spent a lot of time in Miami and Asheville. I think it was really good timing and a nice reset for the band. It allowed us all to do a lot of playing in casual, different settings. 
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Playing on the road with one project for so many years...it's such an intense focus. I think that this gave us a chance to recharge and realign some life goals. We've been really psyched to be back at it. It was a lot of fun to get together to finish the album. The response from the road has been great. Catching up with fans that we haven't seen in several years. I think everything has been great. We've been having some really great shows. Digging into this new material has been really fun too. 
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I guess we did our first run back in the fall of 2017, which allowed us to 'warm up'. Then we dropped the record this spring, and we've been out for a number of dates in Colorado, the northeast, and southeast. This summer, we're obviously focusing on festivals. We had still been doing a few festivals and one-offs during 2015 and 2016, but we didn't really focus on getting back to the road until we were prepping the album. It's been great to get back out there and gauge the response with the new music. 
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I love hearing that. Before we wrap up, you guys are playing CukoRakko Fam Jam in Birmingham on Saturday. What would you tell your casual music fan who might be walking into their first Toubab Krewe experience?
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Luke: I would say that they can expect a dance party, for sure. A lot of the music is heavy dance music. Also, I think they can expect a merging a worlds and cultures. They may hear a style of music that they've never heard before. If they have heard West African music, they might be experiencing it through a different lens. I think whether folks want to be on their feet dancing, or just listening and deciphering the different influences, I think it works for both experiences. 

Every show is different. The band prides itself on really allowing the music to move us and the crowd together. We want to take the whole experience to a new place that we might not have thought we'd get to. We're always open to seeing where the music takes us artistically, musically, and spiritually. I think it's going to be a great time. We haven't played in Birmingham too much, so I'm really looking forward to playing there in a nice, outdoor setting. 


The Road to CukoRakko: The Russ Liquid Test May 08, 2018 22:17

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Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
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If you're a music lover in Alabama, you've more than likely heard about an amazing grassroots festival known as CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival. Founded in 2014, the festival has been held twice a year at Horse Pens 40 in Steele, AL. As this concept has continued to evolve each year, festival producers have decided to bring the spring festival to Birmingham's Avondale Brewing Company on Saturday, May 19th, while still having plans for a full-weekend festival in October.

The spring festival will now be known as CukoRakko Fam Jam, a one-day event held in the heart of Birmingham which features a wide variety of world class talent from across the country. As we prepare for another unforgettable CukoRakko experience, we're sitting down and getting to know a few of this year's performers. For our first installment, we caught up with none other than the headliner, Russ Liquid of The Russ Liquid Test. See below for the full interview, and stay tuned for additional preview coverage in the near future.

Share this post directly from the Live & Listen Facebook page and tag a friend in the comments section for a chance to win a pair of tickets to CukoRakko Fam Jam. We will announce the winner on Monday, May 14th.

Redefining the possibilities of modern music, The Russ Liquid Test fuses the raw vitality of classic funk and the inventive sound design of electronic production. Songwriter/producer and renowned brass specialist Russell Scott heads up the New Orleans-based band. Guitarist Andrew Block and drummer Deven Trusclair round things out, with each providing a distinct musical background deeply rooted in the New Orleans jazz scene. A kinetic energy infuses each the band giving way to a mixture of funk/jazz/electro. The Russ Liquid Test evokes a kaleidoscope of textures, senses, and moods. At the heart of The Russ Liquid Test is an improv-driven musicality.
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The studio workhorses are continually putting out new music and have quite a few releases up their sleeves for 2018. The Russ Liquid Test creates a joyful sense of synergy in their high-powered live shows, with recent appearances including Shambhala Music Festival, Lightning in a Bottle, Summer Camp, and Sonic Bloom, among others. No matter the setting, a clear multidimensionality can always be heard in The Russ Liquid Test’s projects. “We want to make people feel good but also give them something to reflect with,” says Scott. “It’s not about just making party music or music that’s more introspective—it’s for the full gamut of human expression, and we want it to be just as dynamic as life itself.”
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Let's start off by talking about your musical background. You've built a strong reputation as a multi-instrumentalist. How did you get started?

Russ: I guess I was always interested in music. My mother was the choir director for the church we attended, so I kind of got started through the church. I learned piano first, then came the trumpet. Woodwinds were next. I guess you could say one led to the other. 

Tell me a little about the formation of the band: The Russ Liquid Test. You guys put out your debut EP, 1984, back in 2016. You've since released a follow up EP. How did you get together? Tell me about the dynamic of this band.

Russ: Well, it's always been a goal of mine to get back to playing music with other people. That's what I come from. When I met Andrew Block (guitar) doing the Gramatik tour, that's when I kind of knew that this was the time to do it. He shares similar musical tastes and understandings. He wants to do the same things that I do, so it really seemed like the perfect thing to do. We had a few different drummers before we met Deven (Trusclair), but once we met him, it felt like it was meant to be. He's one of my favorite people, and also one of my favorite drummers. 

I feel like there are still a fair amount of people out there who don't understand the dynamics of a live electronic band. Can you elaborate on how this concept works for The Russ Liquid Test?

Russ: Well, we kind of started out more along the lines of the traditional way that live electronic acts are doing it. They have some sort of backing track being played by a computer, and they supplement that by playing live instruments over it, which is kind of what we've been doing. We're slowly transitioning away from using a computer to play more parts than there are musicians on stage. Figuring out ways to still have the same impact, where we are triggering landscapes and textures, but in a way that's freeing us up from being locked down by a computer...if that makes any sense. 

How about the amount of improvisation that's involved in your live show? I'm always intrigued to hear different artists' approach towards this creative aspect. 

Russ: Our view that we all share on improvisation is that when used correctly, it can be a very powerful thing. However, as with anything, if it is overused, it can really take away from what you're trying to accomplish in the first place. That being said, we really like the power of a song. The song, to us, has specific parts, so there is variation to how we play each part on each night, but we try to stick the parts to really define what it is that we're going for on each particular song. We like to sprinkle that with moments on improvisation...to kind of add as a build. 

Watch highlights from The Russ Liquid Test's recent Fox Theatre show here:

I also wanted to talk about the New Orleans music scene, and the impact it has made on this band. You had the chance to work with Ivan Neville and Russell Batiste Jr. on your debut EP. How has it been for you since relocating to the area?

Russ: Andrew Block, our guitarist, is really the person who is responsible for connecting us with these amazing musicians to collaborate with. He's been in New Orleans for around eight years...maybe even ten. He's an amazing guitar player. He's been nominated as one of the top guitarists in New Orleans by OffBeat Magazine. He did that by going out and connecting with the people who he wanted to learn from and associate himself with. He put in a lot a time and effort. So, it was really neat for me when I moved to New Orleans about four years ago. I was just plugged into all the amazing connections that he blood, sweat, and teared to make. He kind of gave The Russ Liquid Test an unfair advantage to just be plugged into having guys like Ivan Neville and Russell Batiste on our debut EP.

Well sometime's it really is a 'right place, right time' thing, you know?

Russ: It really is. I'm always trying to keep an optimistic perspective on all of the events that happen in my life. You never know where an opportunity can lie. That's kind of been the whole thing with this band. I was living in the Bay Area, and my place burned down. I was a bit of a transient while I was touring with Gramatik. That's when I met Andrew, and he suggested that I move to New Orleans, so we could make music together. It's kind of one of those things where good comes from bad. I don't think I would've made that decision had my place not burned down. 

No kidding...

Russ: That's my philosophy of life, you know? You have your freedom of perspective. That's the only thing that is free. Truly freedom.

I think that's accurate. It's crazy how a disaster can turn into a blessing. It's almost as if it was meant to be in the long run.

Russ: Yeah...and it's really easy to drown in your own sorrows, but if you can stay afloat, you'll be able to see land. There's my daily preach for today. (laughs)

I also wanted to ask about RLT's sophomore EP, World Gone Crazy, which was released in November on GRiZ's label, All Good Records. Was this experience much different than 1984?

Russ: It was somewhat of a similar experience. I would say that the biggest difference between the two is that we didn't collaborate with as many people this time. 

You've had the opportunity to share the stage with a wide variety of amazing performers. What are a few recent highlights?

Russ: We recently did a tour supporting Umphrey's McGee. On the last night, they asked me to sit in on a Herbie Hancock track, "Hang Up Your Hang Ups." I got to play saxophone, and I kind of associate myself as being a trumpet player. They insisted that I play sax, so for me, that was a really cool moment to have really crushing musicians ask me to play sax. It was so much fun. Even more than that, we just played Red Rocks with our homie OPIUO. There was a huge orchestra. I've known Oscar (OPIUO) for probably nine years now. He's one of my closest friends. It was really neat to see him headline Red Rocks with a full orchestra. I was really stoked for him. I played keys/horns and Andrew played guitar. 

That sounds amazing. With the Umphrey's sit-in, was that much of a challenge? What's the transition like between the trumpet and saxophone?

Russ: It's different fingerings and some of the same muscles, but a little bit different. To be honest, it's pretty easy. I play trombone too, and it's way harder to go from trombone to trumpet, or vice versa, than to go from trumpet to sax or trombone to sax. Even though the trumpet and trombone have the same type of mouthpiece. The saxophone has a reed, the other ones just a brass piece of metal. For whatever reason, when you play the trumpet and then go to the trombone, the mouthpiece is so much bigger. It feels like you're swimming. If you do it vice versa, it definitely feels weird. 

Before we wrap up, you're obviously headlining the CukoRakko Fam Jam in Birmingham on May 19th. What can attendees expect from The Russ Liquid Test?

Russ: Oh yeah, that's gonna be fun. Get ready to dance, and if you don't like a certain song, give it a second. We'll be playing something completely different in about one minute (laughs).

Click Here: Purchase CukoRakko Fam Jam Tickets

Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography


CukoRakko Fam Jam Confirms Official 2018 Lineup March 12, 2018 15:00

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Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography
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If you're a music lover in Alabama, you've more than likely heard about an amazing grassroots festival known as CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival. Founded in 2014, the festival has been held twice a year at Horse Pens 40 in Steele, AL. As this concept has continued to evolve each year, festival producers have decided to bring the spring festival to Birmingham's Avondale Brewing Company on Saturday, May 19th, while still having plans for a full-weekend festival in October.
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The spring festival will now be known as CukoRakko Fam Jam, a one-day event at Birmingham's Avondale Brewing Company featuring a wide variety of world class talent from across the country. This year's lineup includes the likes of The Russ Liquid TestToubab KreweSteady FlowJimmy Lumpkin & The Revival, and Birmingham-based super group Barnaby Rudge. In addition, there will be a special late night set from DYNOHUNTER. There are a very limited number of tickets available for the late night set, so make sure to grab those while supplies last.
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If you've never had a chance to experience the magic of CukoRakko, we strongly suggest marking your calendars for Saturday, May 19th. This family-friendly event is truly one of a kind, and we believe it's one of the premier annual music festivals in Alabama. Tickets are available now and can be purchased by clicking here. See below for further details and a little taste of each artist on the lineup. Make sure to follow CukoRakko on Facebook and Instagram for all of the latest updates! 
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Artwork by Mike Sears: Light Train Studio
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The Russ Liquid Test

Redefining the possibilities of modern music, The Russ Liquid Test fuses the raw vitality of classic funk and the inventive sound design of electronic production. Songwriter/producer and renowned brass specialist Russell Scott heads up the New Orleans-based band. Guitarist Andrew Block and drummer Deven Trusclair round things out, with each providing a distinct musical background deeply rooted in the New Orleans jazz scene. Their debut EP 1984 featured an eclectic array of guest collaborators such as Mr. Lif and Ivan Neville—successfully creating an auditory canvas to forge The Russ Liquid Test’s irresistibly soulful future-vintage stylings. 

A kinetic energy infuses each track on 1984. Giving way to a mixture of funk/jazz/electro, The Russ Liquid Test evokes a kaleidoscope of textures, senses, and moods. Featuring Ivan Neville on keyboards and the Funky Meters’ Russell Batiste Jr. on drums, the effervescent and synth-heavy title track “speaks about the current state of America from the perspective of an outsider,” as described by Scott. Lead single “Honesty,” meanwhile, finds The Russ Liquid Test slipping into a woozy psychedelia, offset by a brilliantly structured dichotomy introduced in its second-line-inspired groove.

At the heart of The Russ Liquid Test is an improv-driven musicality that began with Scott’s taking up classical piano. After spending several years playing in a jazz quintet on cruise ships and touring with psychedelic ska band Uprite Dub Orchestra, his one-of-a-kind artistry was unveiled in the genre-busting musical performance group MarchFourth Marching Band. Capable of playing the trumpet and saxophone, Scott quickly began experimenting with electronic music, eventually adopting the moniker of Russ Liquid. As his full-length debut, 2013’s Foreign Frequency showcased a forward-thinking mentality and fearless vision, anchored by an incomparable knowledge of music as a whole. “I wanted new colors to paint with,” says Scott of his foray into electronic music. “I kind of look at the electronic world as this whole other color palette, compared to the traditional sounds we’ve been working with for the past however many years.” 

While on tour with Gramatik in 2014, Scott crossed paths with Block and discovered the duo’s shared musical tastes and philosophies. A South Florida native, Block grew playing guitar in his local Pentecostal church. “I wasn’t religious, I just wanted to play at that church because the music there was amazing,” says Block. He later relocated to New Orleans, pursuing his dream of becoming a full-time musician. The guitarist’s legendary endeavors reached fellow purveyors of soul/funk/R&B, ranging from Pretty Lights to New Orleans icon Dr. John. Capable of collaborating and working as a solo artist without missing a beat, Block released his 2014 debut You Can Only Go Up From Here on Gramatik’s independent label Lowtemp.

In the making of 1984, The Russ Liquid Test compounded their potent chemistry by bringing in a lineup of equally impassioned musicians. “Coming from a background of playing in bands and then getting into electronic music, I’d really missed having that interaction with other musicians,” says Scott. “The most rewarding thing for me is being able to bounce ideas off other people, so that the music ends up having more than just one person’s vibe to it. Ultimately it lets you give the audience even more to connect with.”

The studio workhorses have already begun working on a sophomore EP. The Russ Liquid Test also presents a joyful sense of synergy in their high-powered live shows, with recent appearances including Shambhala Music Festival, Lightning in a Bottle, Summer Camp, and Sonic Bloom, among others. No matter the setting, a clear multidimensionality can always be heard in The Russ Liquid Test’s projects. “We want to make people feel good but also give them something to reflect with,” says Scott. “It’s not about just making party music or music that’s more introspective—it’s for the full gamut of human expression, and we want it to be just as dynamic as life itself.”

Watch The Russ Liquid Test perform at Purple Hatter's Ball 2017 here: 
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Toubab Krewe

Blending American and West African influences into a sound all its own, Toubab Krewe has set "a new standard for fusions of rock 'n' roll and West African music" (Afropop Worldwide).

Since forming in 2005, the magnetic instrumental quintet has won a diverse and devoted following at performances everywhere from Bonnaroo to the legendary Festival of the Desert in Essakane, Mali, the most remote festival in the world. The band developed their unique sound over the course of numerous extended trips to Mali, Guinea, and Ivory Coast, where they immersed themselves in the local culture and studied and performed with luminaries.

But the group has its roots in Asheville, NC, where many of its members were childhood friends and long-term musical collaborators. It was at home in the Appalachians, where the band recorded their sophomore album, Live at the Orange Peel.

Produced by Grammy winning producer Steven Heller (who also produced the band's debut), the new album captures their outstanding 2007-2008 New Year's run. All of the songs are previously unreleased and continue to mix American rock with the West African musical traditions the band fell in love with on their travels. Along the way, they explore the worlds of surf and zydeco, fusing it all together into what the Village Voice describes as "a futuristic, psychedelic, neo-griot frenzy" and Honest Tune hails as "one of the most innovative voices in music today." The new release features col- laborations with legendary spoken word artist Umar Bin Hassan of The Last Poets and fiddler Rayna Gellert of Uncle Earl.

Listen to Toubab Krewe's new single "That Damn Squash" here:


DYNOHUNTER

DYNOHUNTER is truly a breath of fresh air to the world of electronic dance music. With a sound embraced by fans of house and techno and a live performance fueled by the organic energy of live instrumentation, their music is undeniable on the dance floor. DYNOHUNTER's ability to blend deep electronic influences with live saxophone, bass, and drums forges a new path in the vast expanse of electronic music.

Their sound journeys from dark tribal meditations, exotic rhythms, and deep hypnotic grooves to hard hitting dance tracks, uplifting melodies, and soulful improvisations. Equally at home playing underground clubs and festival mainstages, DYNOHUNTER brings a relentless and unmatched energy to each and every set.

They've opened for some of the biggest names in livetronica including Conspirator, Eoto, Opiuo, Ott, and The New Deal as well as supporting world renowned DJ's Shpongle, Bonobo, Infected Mushroom, Klingande, and The M Machine. No stranger to the festival community DYNOHUNTER has performed at music festivals across the country including Wakarusa, Summercamp, Joshua Tree, Sonic Bloom, & Great North. With an unparalleled work ethic and a one of a kind performance DYNOHUNTER has established themselves as the livetronica artist to watch.

DYNOHUNTER has set themselves apart from the pack by creating timeless music that speaks to true lovers of dance music. Always paying respect to the artists that have inspired them and paved the way, yet always striving to make music that is contemporary and progressive, a genuine expression of their own unique human experiences and a reflection of the times.

Watch DYNOHUNTER perform "Knew Conscious" here:

Steady Flow

From the Heart of the Midwest, Steady Flow brings a unique style of powerful funk music like you've never heard it before. Formed in 2012 by 18 year old, soul guitarist extraordinaire, Tanner Brown, and his older brother, Ky "Goonie-Mom" Brown on bass guitar, the group has now transformed into a six-piece funk-powerhouse, quickly claiming their spot as one of the best live acts around.

In Steady Flow's short existence, the group has taken on music festivals such as North Coast, Summer Camp, Phases of the Moon, and the list goes on. The band is constantly turning heads at every performance as their hard hitting Funk Rock compositions shake the room and force all audiences to dance, rage, & simply feel good.

Steady Flow released their first EP, "The Oneoff Sessions" in 2013, and their debut album, "Loud." in June 2015. The band released their newest full length album, "Do You Like That?" in April 2017! Do not miss a live show near you. Steady Flow is "The Future Of Funk."

Watch Steady Flow perform "Do You Like That" here:

Jimmy Lumpkin & The Revival

Straight out of a cabin in the backwoods of South Alabama, Jimmy Lumpkin belts out sublime sounds that are altogether Country, Rock, Soul and Blues. Jimmy is a singer, songwriter and guitarist with an intoxicating voice and a stirring, soulful bend to his own brand of music. With the voice of a 100-year-old angel from the delta, the soul found in Jimmy’s music is like no other. Skate Mountain Records is proud to present to the world music from a point of view they have never heard before. In the likes of Sturgill Simpson, Bo Diddley, The Black Keys and Marvin Gaye, Jimmy Lumpkin & The Revival set the bar higher than any other with their August 2017 release of their new album, "Home" - a unique blend of soulful roots rock and Americana.

Watch Jimmy Lumpkin & The Revival's music video for "The Best One" here:

Barnaby Rudge

After the disbandment of Festival Expressions, Ransom Pewitt (lead singer and guitar player of FestEx) created Barnaby Rudge as the new vehicle for musical endeavors. In the style of Steely Dan, Barnaby does not have a set line-up of musicians; rather, the best artists for the songs are chosen on a show by show and song by song basis. Some of the best local talent around Birmingham, Alabama aided in the first show at Workplay Theater. The line-up included members of Little Raine Band (Justin Sledge, Daniel Raine, Davis Little), local favorite Jason Grubbs, along with members of Tragic City and Taylor Hunnicutt & Co. Bassist Beck Hall played a few tunes in addition to the original FestEx bassist Marcus O'Neill. The next show, May 19 at The Cuko Rakko FamJam at Avondale Brewing Company, is sure to be another great night of live music with Beck Hall, members of Little Raine Band, Jason Grubbs, and Taylor Hunnicutt returning for the special event. The band will continue to evolve as previous Festival Expressions drummer Josh Wiseman joins the lineup in 2018. Stay tuned. Much more to come.

Watch Barnaby Rudge perform "The Music Never Stopped" at WorkPlay here:

 

 


CukoRakko Pre-Party Will Feature Downright, Supatight, & Shabti September 29, 2017 14:06

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Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography
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Share this Facebook post + tag a friend in the comments for a chance to win two passes to the pre-party. These passes are for Thursday only and still require a weekend pass. Pre-party tickets can be purchased at the gate upon arrival.
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It's that time of the year again, and we are just a mere number of days away from one of our favorite weekends of the year: CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival. Now in its fourth year, the bi-annual grassroots festival continues to grow at one of Alabama's most beautiful locations: Horse Pens 40. While you can enjoy three full days of music, mixed media art, yoga, disc golf, kid's activities and more, the Thursday night pre-party has proven itself to be one of the weekend highlights.
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The setting and boulder-laden backdrop of the CukoRakko main stage is second to none, but don't sleep on the intimate vibe at the pavilion stage. The pre-party concept has now evolved into an evening with three of the southeast's premier acts: DownrightSupatight, and Shabti. A Thursday arrival allows one to camp virtually anywhere on site, ease in to the weekend ahead, and enjoy three jam-packed sets with an intimate group of the CukoRakko family. 
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CukoRakko is the Creek Indian word for ceremonial ground, stomp ground, big house and dance ground. This perfectly describes the phenomenal energy that can be felt at this historic outdoor nature park. Horse Pens 40 is a natural wonderland of unique rock formations nestled atop Chandler Mountain in the foothills of the Appalachians. Located on top of the third highest mountain in Alabama, the stone formations here are said to be among the oldest naturally exposed stones in the world, dating from 600 million to 1.3 billion years old. This sacred ground has a vivid history. Don’t miss this opportunity to visit this incredible natural amphitheater.
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Meet The Pre-Party Bands:

Downright (Birmingham, AL)

Watch Downright perform "The Dirt" here:
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Supatight (Asheville, NC)

Watch Supatight perform "Puddin' Foot" here:

Shabti

Watch Shabti's official video for "Canvas of Clay" here:


CukoRakko Confirms Stellar Lineup For 2017 Fall Fest September 13, 2017 10:52

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Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography
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Share this post directly from the Live & Listen Facebook page and tag a friend in the comments for a chance to win a pair of CukoRakko tickets. Make sure your settings are set to 'public' so we can see the shared post on our end.

Festival organizers have revealed the final lineup for CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival, which returns Horse Pens 40 in Steele, AL for the fourth consecutive year on October 6th - 8th and will presented by Land Rover of Birmingham. The bi-annual, family friendly, grassroots music and arts festival has seen tremendous growth with each year, and this fall looks to be no exception. FallFest will feature arguably the festival's exciting lineup to date with BIG Something, The Heavy Pets, Backup PlanetFreekbass & The Bump Assembly, lespecial, Mr. B & The Tribal Hoose, Winston Ramble, Downright, Supatight, The Stolen Faces, Shabti, Jon Poor Band, Goat Hill String Band, and Jason Grubbs & Friends.  VIP ticket packages and advance general admission tickets can also be found at CukoRakko.com. This is a one-of-a-kind camping experience at one of Alabama's best kept secrets. Stay tuned for future festival updates, exclusive artist interviews, and everything you need to know about CukoRakko!
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CukoRakko offers so much more than just the music. Don't miss out on Get Rhythm's organized drum circles throughout the weekend. Get Rhythm is an interactive rhythm program which uses hand drums and percussion instruments from around the world with the goal of unity through rhythm. Programs range from educational, team building, leadership, or stress relief.
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John Scalici is an award winning teaching artist, author, internationally recognized facilitator, musician, and a member of the John C. Maxwell Team of certified speakers, coaches, and trainers. His Rhythm of Leadership® and Unity Through Rhythm® programs are in high demand and highly regarded at leading corporations, college campuses, elementary, middle and high schools across the U.S. 
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Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography
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-Get To Know This Year's Lineup!
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BIG Something

A 6 piece powerhouse with a sound that is both unique and timeless, BIG Something fuses elements of rock, pop, funk, and improvisation to take listeners on a journey through a myriad of musical styles. It's no secret why this group has quickly become one of the most exciting new bands to emerge from the Southeast. Soaring guitars, synths, horns and alluring vocal hooks rise to the top of their infectious collection of songs and represent a sound that has caught the ears of such revered Summer circuit stalwarts as Galactic, moe., Robert Randolph, and even The B52s who have all tapped Big Something as direct support.

This past February the group released their 4th full-length studio album, Tumbleweed, which was recorded once again with the help of grammy nominated producer John Custer (Corrosion of Conformity). He has produced all of their albums including Truth Serum, which was named 2014 Album of the Year by The Homegrown Music Network, making Big Something the only band ever to win this award 3 times with 3 different releases (2010, 2013, and 2014).

Watch BIG Something perform "The Flood" with Jake Cinninger of Umphrey's McGee here:

The Heavy Pets

The Heavy Pets are a funky-ass rock and roll band from South Florida. Called "a living, breathing force of nature" by Relix magazine, they are known for their songcraft and powerhouse live performances. The band has been a mainstay on the national touring circuit for over a decade, and will release its fourth full-length studio album in September 2017.

The Pets are a seasoned live act, playing over 1200 shows across the country since their inception in 2005. The band's energetic, extended sets have been described as "full blown musical salvation" that embodies the sound of their Florida home, weaving together elements of indie rock, funk and reggae into a style that is uniquely their own.

The group became an instant Sirius radio sensation upon the release of their debut album Whale in 2007. The crossover sound on their self-titled release, named a "Top 10 Album of 2010" by The Huffington Post, propelled them into the periphery of mainstream music. 2011 saw the release of Swim Out Past The Sun, an acoustic affair featuring longtime Jerry Garcia collaborator David Grisman. Beginning in 2013, The Heavy Pets put out a series of EPs recorded at the legendary Power Station studios, and will release its fourth full-length album in September 2017.

Watch The Heavy Pets perform "Dewpoint" > "Jackie Bones" here:

Backup Planet

Rock ‘n’ roll epitomizes escapism in its purest form. It’s not just artistic anesthetization either, but rather a galvanizing force that inspires us to keep pushing through life’s trials and tribulations. That’s why we still listen to Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Rush, and countless others all these years later. It’s the same reason audiences will be talking about Backup Planet’s second full-length album, Reactions, for a long time to come. The Nashville, TN quartet—Ben Cooper [keys, vocals], Chris Potocik [drums, vocals], Gavin Donati [guitar, vocals], and Blake Gallant [bass, vocals]—write arena-size anthems echoing with progressive intricacy, funk swagger, and even a little metallic edge. Giving listeners an inspiring and invigorating aural haven, their moniker couldn’t be more apropos…

Watch Backup Planet perform David Bowie's "Fame" here:

Freekbass

Born and raised in Cincinnati, OH, Freekbass was an only child who initially wanted to be a magician. He later developed his own obsession for cartoon superheroes and comic books, relating to the underlying themes.

Living in Cincinnati exposed Freekbass to genres of music he may have missed otherwise. While most kids were listening to Nirvana and Green Day, he connected with the bottom-heavy sounds coming out of the boom boxes like Zapp and Midnight Star. While working in a music shop to pay off his first electric bass he had in lay-away, he began to study the classics of Larry Graham, Sly Stone, Stevie Wonder, Parliament and Bootsy with a bass in one hand, and an MPC2000 in the other.

Freekbass has released six full-length CDs, including “Concentrate” with guests Bootsy Collins, DJ Spooky, Adam Deitch, and Steve Molitz, and “Junkyard Waltz” which includes guest appearances by Phish bassist Mike Gordon, guitarist Buckethead, keyboard wizard from P-Funk/Talking Heads Bernie Worrell, and is produced by funk legend Bootsy Collins. Also, national music DVD instruction company, The Rock House Method, recently released two Freekbass instructional DVDs “Learn Funk Bass with Freekbass (Level 1 & Level 2) “, and TrueFire.com just released the instructional DVD/download “50 Freekbass Licks You Must Know” . In 2010 Freekbass connected with DJ Logic, and Particle keyboardist Steve Molitz to form the funktronica trio, Headtronics. 

Going into 2015 Freek has a lot of things on the table. He just released his next album , “Everybody’s Feelin’ Real”, which is produced by Duane Lundy (My Morning Jacket’s Jim James/Ben Sollee) and includes P-Funk/Rubberband keyboardist Razor Sharp Johnson, horn man Skerik, and Trey Anastasio Band vocalist/trumpet Jennifer Hartswick . Also, he was a part of this year’s London Bass Guitar Show in the UK giving a master class and performing. Plus he will be doing extensive touring with his mainstay funk group, “Freekbass & The Bump Assembly” which also includes funk legend Razor Sharp Johnson on keys/synths and George Clinton & P-Funk alumni Rico Lewis on drums. And recently, he signed with the esteemed label Ropeadope Records.

Watch Freekbass' music video for "Mama's Like A Cowboy" here:

lespecial

Hailed as a breakthrough act to watch in 2017, lespecial, based in Boston and upstate New York, have established themselves as innovators and tastemakers on their own unique trajectory. “Disguised as an average power trio from Boston, lespecial creeps around corners and reaches into the darkest depths of the absurd. lespecial is meticulous, creative and defiant; eclectic, multi-talented and driven. The band prides itself in extending the boundaries of musical ability, rebelliously laying waste to the limits of popular music.” (Ragin Randy Entertainment)

Labeled with such unique descriptions as “dark future groove” or “death funk” to “trance metal” or “haunted house party music”, it is tough to put one’s finger on this dangerous and determined trifecta’s distinct sound. A lespecial set brings their signature blend of psychedelic metal infused funk along with deep, thumping synths and 808s that will have your hips swaying as quick as your head banging. From the band’s origins as three friends in high school in the woods of Connecticut who shared a passion for building unique instruments and hitting them with drum sticks, through studying music at a collegiate level to now running their own music school and studio, The Music Cellar, in Millerton NY, Jonny Grusauskas (guitar/synth/sampler/percussion/vocals), Luke Bemand (bass/synth/percussion) and Rory Dolan’s (drums/samples) unique chemistry is what gives them their incomparable personality.

As Steve Morse, Boston Globe writer and Berklee College of Music professor, claims, “They are virtuoso players- and they really listen to each other closely, which is what raises them apart from today’s progressive wannabees”. After several, eclectic EP releases, their debut album, “Omnisquid”, released in 2015, finds the band “jumping through periods of hypnotic rhythms, catchy riffs, and synth grooves fit for a club… throw in a healthy dose of heavy metal and punk influenced guitar, and you have one of the most interesting new albums out there.” (Monkeygoose Magazine). ITDJENTS claims “For fans of King Crimson, Tool, Nine Inch Nails and Battles this is definitely the album for you”. The band’s expansive catalogue of singles and videos, including arrangements of everyone from Kanye West to Skrillex to Fela Kuti, is keeping all eyes and ears on lespecial as they prove in clubs and festivals nationwide why Relix Magazine claims “Amidst the rest of the noise, lespecial is the squeaky wheel that demands attention.” 

Check out lespecial's recent set from Disc Jam Music Festival here:

Mr. B & The Tribal Hoose

Mr B began freestyling and recording mixtapes as a highschooler in Phoenix, AZ. He first came in to the public eye after viral youtube video "Wendys Drive Thru Rap". Soon after, he hit the road in support of acts like DMX and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. It did not take long for Mr B to realize he wanted to perform with more than just himself, and that's when the Tribal Hoose came along. With every member hailing from a different state, the group began as friends improvising live jams with Mr B as he freestyled at local house shows. They quickly realized they were on to something unique and captivating. The band has since grown and had the opportunity to perform at festivals with likes of Soulja Boy and Ying Yang Twins to name a few. They will B releasing their debut album in the Spring of 2017, followed by a tour to promote their album and movement.

Watch Mr. B & The Tribal Hoose perform "It Ain't All Good (But It's All Good) here:

The Stolen Faces

Photo by Thomas Diasio

Grateful Dead cover band The Stolen Faces deftly capture the spirit of the Dead, covering a wide variety of songs from the band’s expansive catalog and delivering them with the sort of energy and spontaneity that might have you thinking you’re standing in the Fillmore West in 1971. Led by bassist Christian Grizzard, the group features guitarist Jack Silverman, drummer Matt Martin, and a rotating cast of some of Nashville’s top session and touring musicians.

The members of The Stolen Faces all share a love for the Dead, and for the freeform jamming and good vibes that music entails. The group puts a high premium on nailing the vocal harmonies, and has the instrumental firepower to take the extended jams into some seriously trippy sonic territory. In a short time, touring through Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas, they’ve begun to establish a reputation as one of the Southeast’s most solid and rockin’ Dead bands!

Watch several clips of The Stolen Faces performing here:

Winston Ramble

Based in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, Winston Ramble is a homegrown, folk-rock band. With members originally hailing from the free state of Winston County, AL, the band aims to interject the raw expression of rock-n-roll into the feel-good vibes of folk and bluegrass music.

Watch Winston Ramble & Friends perform "Miss You" here:

Downright

Watch Downright perform "The Dirt" here:

Supatight

Currently out of Asheville, NC, Supatight delivers a high energy live performance that is funk driven and appeals to a wide variety of audiences. While specializing in hard-hitting funk, their music incorporates elements of reggae, soul, jazz, and comedic country. Supatight blends intricately timed grooves with improvisational components resulting in an authentic, full sound, drawing diverse styles from every member of the band.

Watch Supatight perform "Puddin' Foot" here:

Shabti

Watch Shabti's official video for "Canvas of Clay" here:

Jon Poor Band

Watch Jon Poor Band perform "Alone In Our Skins" here:

Goat Hill String Band

Watch Goat Hill String Band perform "Long Train Runnin" here:

 Jason Grubbs & Friends


CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival Reveals Initial 2017 FallFest Lineup August 08, 2017 15:13

Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography
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Share this post directly from the Live & Listen Facebook page and tag a friend in the comments for a chance to win a pair of CukoRakko tickets. Make sure your settings are set to 'public' so we can see the shared post on our end.

Festival organizers have revealed the initial lineup for CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival, which returns Horse Pens 40 in Steele, AL for the fourth consecutive year on October 6th - 8th and will presented by Land Rover of Birmingham. The bi-annual, grassroots music and arts festival has seen tremendous growth with each year, and this fall looks to be no exception. FallFest will feature arguably the festival's exciting lineup to date with BIG Something, The Heavy Pets, Backup PlanetFreekbass, lespecial and Mr. B & The Tribal Hoose rounding out the first wave of bands. A very limited amount of early bird tickets can be purchased today by clicking here.  VIP ticket packages and advance general admission tickets can also be found at CukoRakko.com.  Stay tuned for future artist announcements, exclusive artist interviews, and everything you need to know about CukoRakko!

Get To Know The Lineup:

BIG Something

A 6 piece powerhouse with a sound that is both unique and timeless, BIG Something fuses elements of rock, pop, funk, and improvisation to take listeners on a journey through a myriad of musical styles. It's no secret why this group has quickly become one of the most exciting new bands to emerge from the Southeast. Soaring guitars, synths, horns and alluring vocal hooks rise to the top of their infectious collection of songs and represent a sound that has caught the ears of such revered Summer circuit stalwarts as Galactic, moe., Robert Randolph, and even The B52s who have all tapped Big Something as direct support.

This past February the group released their 4th full-length studio album, Tumbleweed, which was recorded once again with the help of grammy nominated producer John Custer (Corrosion of Conformity). He has produced all of their albums including Truth Serum, which was named 2014 Album of the Year by The Homegrown Music Network, making Big Something the only band ever to win this award 3 times with 3 different releases (2010, 2013, and 2014).

Watch BIG Something perform "The Flood" with Jake Cinninger of Umphrey's McGee here:

The Heavy Pets

The Heavy Pets are a funky-ass rock and roll band from South Florida. Called "a living, breathing force of nature" by Relix magazine, they are known for their songcraft and powerhouse live performances. The band has been a mainstay on the national touring circuit for over a decade, and will release its fourth full-length studio album in September 2017.

The Pets are a seasoned live act, playing over 1200 shows across the country since their inception in 2005. The band's energetic, extended sets have been described as "full blown musical salvation" that embodies the sound of their Florida home, weaving together elements of indie rock, funk and reggae into a style that is uniquely their own.

The group became an instant Sirius radio sensation upon the release of their debut album Whale in 2007. The crossover sound on their self-titled release, named a "Top 10 Album of 2010" by The Huffington Post, propelled them into the periphery of mainstream music. 2011 saw the release of Swim Out Past The Sun, an acoustic affair featuring longtime Jerry Garcia collaborator David Grisman. Beginning in 2013, The Heavy Pets put out a series of EPs recorded at the legendary Power Station studios, and will release its fourth full-length album in September 2017.

Watch The Heavy Pets perform "Dewpoint" > "Jackie Bones" here:

Backup Planet

Rock ‘n’ roll epitomizes escapism in its purest form. It’s not just artistic anesthetization either, but rather a galvanizing force that inspires us to keep pushing through life’s trials and tribulations. That’s why we still listen to Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Rush, and countless others all these years later. It’s the same reason audiences will be talking about Backup Planet’s second full-length album, Reactions, for a long time to come. The Nashville, TN quartet—Ben Cooper [keys, vocals], Chris Potocik [drums, vocals], Gavin Donati [guitar, vocals], and Blake Gallant [bass, vocals]—write arena-size anthems echoing with progressive intricacy, funk swagger, and even a little metallic edge. Giving listeners an inspiring and invigorating aural haven, their moniker couldn’t be more apropos…

Watch Backup Planet perform David Bowie's "Fame" here:

Freekbass

Born and raised in Cincinnati, OH, Freekbass was an only child who initially wanted to be a magician. He later developed his own obsession for cartoon superheroes and comic books, relating to the underlying themes.

Living in Cincinnati exposed Freekbass to genres of music he may have missed otherwise. While most kids were listening to Nirvana and Green Day, he connected with the bottom-heavy sounds coming out of the boom boxes like Zapp and Midnight Star. While working in a music shop to pay off his first electric bass he had in lay-away, he began to study the classics of Larry Graham, Sly Stone, Stevie Wonder, Parliament and Bootsy with a bass in one hand, and an MPC2000 in the other.

Freekbass has released six full-length CDs, including “Concentrate” with guests Bootsy Collins, DJ Spooky, Adam Deitch, and Steve Molitz, and “Junkyard Waltz” which includes guest appearances by Phish bassist Mike Gordon, guitarist Buckethead, keyboard wizard from P-Funk/Talking Heads Bernie Worrell, and is produced by funk legend Bootsy Collins. Also, national music DVD instruction company, The Rock House Method, recently released two Freekbass instructional DVDs “Learn Funk Bass with Freekbass (Level 1 & Level 2) “, and TrueFire.com just released the instructional DVD/download “50 Freekbass Licks You Must Know” . In 2010 Freekbass connected with DJ Logic, and Particle keyboardist Steve Molitz to form the funktronica trio, Headtronics. 

Going into 2015 Freek has a lot of things on the table. He just released his next album , “Everybody’s Feelin’ Real”, which is produced by Duane Lundy (My Morning Jacket’s Jim James/Ben Sollee) and includes P-Funk/Rubberband keyboardist Razor Sharp Johnson, horn man Skerik, and Trey Anastasio Band vocalist/trumpet Jennifer Hartswick . Also, he was a part of this year’s London Bass Guitar Show in the UK giving a master class and performing. Plus he will be doing extensive touring with his mainstay funk group, “Freekbass & The Bump Assembly” which also includes funk legend Razor Sharp Johnson on keys/synths and George Clinton & P-Funk alumni Rico Lewis on drums. And recently, he signed with the esteemed label Ropeadope Records.

Watch Freekbass' music video for "Mama's Like A Cowboy" here:

lespecial

Hailed as a breakthrough act to watch in 2017, lespecial, based in Boston and upstate New York, have established themselves as innovators and tastemakers on their own unique trajectory. “Disguised as an average power trio from Boston, lespecial creeps around corners and reaches into the darkest depths of the absurd. lespecial is meticulous, creative and defiant; eclectic, multi-talented and driven. The band prides itself in extending the boundaries of musical ability, rebelliously laying waste to the limits of popular music.” (Ragin Randy Entertainment)

Labeled with such unique descriptions as “dark future groove” or “death funk” to “trance metal” or “haunted house party music”, it is tough to put one’s finger on this dangerous and determined trifecta’s distinct sound. A lespecial set brings their signature blend of psychedelic metal infused funk along with deep, thumping synths and 808s that will have your hips swaying as quick as your head banging. From the band’s origins as three friends in high school in the woods of Connecticut who shared a passion for building unique instruments and hitting them with drum sticks, through studying music at a collegiate level to now running their own music school and studio, The Music Cellar, in Millerton NY, Jonny Grusauskas (guitar/synth/sampler/percussion/vocals), Luke Bemand (bass/synth/percussion) and Rory Dolan’s (drums/samples) unique chemistry is what gives them their incomparable personality.

As Steve Morse, Boston Globe writer and Berklee College of Music professor, claims, “They are virtuoso players- and they really listen to each other closely, which is what raises them apart from today’s progressive wannabees”. After several, eclectic EP releases, their debut album, “Omnisquid”, released in 2015, finds the band “jumping through periods of hypnotic rhythms, catchy riffs, and synth grooves fit for a club… throw in a healthy dose of heavy metal and punk influenced guitar, and you have one of the most interesting new albums out there.” (Monkeygoose Magazine). ITDJENTS claims “For fans of King Crimson, Tool, Nine Inch Nails and Battles this is definitely the album for you”. The band’s expansive catalogue of singles and videos, including arrangements of everyone from Kanye West to Skrillex to Fela Kuti, is keeping all eyes and ears on lespecial as they prove in clubs and festivals nationwide why Relix Magazine claims “Amidst the rest of the noise, lespecial is the squeaky wheel that demands attention.” 

Check out lespecial's recent set from Disc Jam Music Festival here:

Mr. B & The Tribal Hoose

Mr B began freestyling and recording mixtapes as a highschooler in Phoenix, AZ. He first came in to the public eye after viral youtube video "Wendys Drive Thru Rap". Soon after, he hit the road in support of acts like DMX and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. It did not take long for Mr B to realize he wanted to perform with more than just himself, and that's when the Tribal Hoose came along. With every member hailing from a different state, the group began as friends improvising live jams with Mr B as he freestyled at local house shows. They quickly realized they were on to something unique and captivating. The band has since grown and had the opportunity to perform at festivals with likes of Soulja Boy and Ying Yang Twins to name a few. They will B releasing their debut album in the Spring of 2017, followed by a tour to promote their album and movement.

Watch Mr. B & The Tribal Hoose perform "It Ain't All Good (But It's All Good) here:

 


Win Tickets To See The Heavy Pets & Backup Planet At Zydeco (3/29) March 27, 2017 11:32

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Live & Listen is teaming up with CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival to offer a ticket giveaway for The Heavy Pets and Backup Planet at Zydeco in Birmingham, AL on Wednesday, March 29th.  Those who attended CukoRakko in October of 2016 will remember these two bands making for one of the most dynamic evenings of music we have seen on the main stage at Horse Pens 40.  To enter this contest, simply share this post directly from the CukoRakko Facebook page and tag a friend in the comments section.  Make sure that your Facebook settings are on "public" so we are able to see that you shared the post.  A winner will be announced on Wednesday, March 29th at 12:00 PM CST.
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Watch The Heavy Pets perform "Keep Me Running" here:
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Watch Backup Planet perform David Bowie's "Fame" on New Year's Eve (2016) here:
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Blackberry Possum Joins CukoRakko SpringFest Lineup March 23, 2017 13:13

Photo by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

While the lineup for CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival's 2017 SpringFest features a heavy presence of jam, funk, and jazz, festival organizers recognize that the element of music which put Horse Pens 40 on the map is undoubtedly bluegrass. With that being said, organizers are extremely pleased to once again welcome Blackberry Possum as the latest addition to the weekend's roster (May 5th-7th).  In the likeness of Leftover Salmon, Blackberry Possum has the ability to bring to the stage a jamgrass and newgrass appeal, but like traditional bluegrass arrangements can turn on a dime with a standard bluegrass song.  This aspect alone has made BBP a CukoRakko favorite over the years and sparked numerous requests for the band's return in 2017.  The Alabama roots run deep with this group, which features a lineup of seasoned musicians who have been honing their craft for well over 40 years.  

Blackberry Possum is Tony Brook, Wildman Steve, Brian Fowler, Jimbo Leach, John Boyd and Tom Burgess playing bluegrass, newgrass, country and originals.  They will perform at CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival's SpringFest on Saturday, May 6th.

Click Here: Purchase Your CukoRakko SpringFest Tickets Today!

Watch Blackberry Possum perform "Jelly Jam" at CukoRakko on May 14th, 2016 here:


CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival Reveals 2017 SpringFest Lineup February 01, 2017 02:41

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Photo by Paul Hosier: Jack Straw Photography
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Festival organizers have revealed the initial lineup for CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival, which returns Horse Pens 40 in Steele, AL for the fourth consecutive year on May 5th - 7th. The bi-annual, grassroots music and arts festival has seen tremendous growth with each year, and 2017 looks to be no exception.  SpringFest will feature CukoRakko veterans Col. Bruce Hampton & The Madrid Express, as well as Zach Deputy, The Funky Knuckles, Broccoli Samurai, Soul Mechanic, Little Raine BandPermagrooveImperial BlendVoodoo VisionaryDirk Quinn BandRoxy RocaSupatight, and Rescue Dogs.  
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The festivities will kick off on Thursday, May 4th with a pre-party featuring Rescue Dogs, Imperial Blend, and Voodoo Visionary (Presented by JSP Rocks).  The festival officially begins on Friday, March 5th with performances from Zach Deputy, Voodoo Visionary, Imperial Blend, and Supatight. Saturday's performers include Broccoli Samurai, Little Raine Band, Permagroove, Soul Mechanic, Funky Knuckles, and Roxy Roca.  The festival will conclude on Sunday, May 7th with a second set from Funky Knuckles, as well as Dirk Quinn Band and the legendary Col. Bruce Hampton & The Madrid Express.  A very limited amount of early bird tickets can be purchased today by clicking here.  VIP ticket packages and advance general admission tickets can also be found at CukoRakko.com.  Stay tuned for future updates, exclusive artist interviews, and everything you need to know about CukoRakko!
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Purchase tickets to CukoRakko SpringFest!

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Watch the official CukoRakko 2016 SpringFest recap video here:
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Get To Know This Year's Lineup

Col. Bruce Hampton & The Madrid Express

Col. Bruce Hampton has been making music since he formed his first band in 1963. Col. Bruce has been in constant motion ever since leaving a trail of memorable live performances with his many bands, including The Late Bronze Age and Col. Bruce Hampton and The Aquarium Rescue Unit.  Along the way he appeared in the movie "Sling Blade" as the poet and band manager Morris and starred in Mike Gordon's cult classic "Outside Out" as a mystical guitar 'out'structor. Since 2006, The Colonel has been playing a unique blend of blues and jazz with his band Col. Bruce & The Quark Alliance. Still rolling down the road, Col. Bruce continues his quest for the tonal center at each exit #6.

Hampton helped start the 1990s seminal H.O.R.D.E. tours. The best known of his bands to play H.O.R.D.E. is the jazz-rock outfit Aquarium Rescue Unit, which featured improvisational music all-stars Oteil Burbridge, Jimmy Herring, Rev. Jeff Mosier, Matt Mundy and Jeff Sipe.

Watch an entire set from Col Bruce & The Madrid Express here:

Zach Deputy

Zach Deputy is a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter based in Savannah, GA and best known for his live looping shows. Deputy has made his mark thus far as a touring powerhouse. As a boy, the music of his Puerto Rican, Cruzan and Irish heritage was cooked up in the South Carolina heat. The Calypso rhythms and folk songs of St. Croix competed with the R&B / soul of pioneers like James Brown and Ray Charles for space on the family stereo. As Deputy honed his craft, a unique hybrid of these influences emerged, ultimately creating the signature Zach Deputy sound.

To bring this sound to the stage, the big, impossibly upbeat South Carolinian with the infectious smile puts on a solo show– enhanced by looping technology– that is essentially a one man dance party offering up what he calls “Island-infused, Drum ‘n’ Bass, Gospel-Ninja-Soul” to the enthusiastic crowds of dancers who flock to clubs from coast-to-coast. It is these late night dance parties— more than 250 per year– that have made Zach Deputy one of the hottest up-and-coming performers on the camping festival circuit and “jam band” scene. For Zach, most days begin in a hotel room and end a couple of hours after walking off stage.
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Watch Zach Deputy perform "Put It In The Boogie" here:
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The Funky Knuckles

The inevitable result of a talent-soaked soul and jazz community, The Funky Knuckles are taking the sound of Dallas to an entirely different level. They have been together six years and have held a weekly residency since the beginning. The band is comprised of sidemen from some of the most respected acts in the music industry (Beyonce, Erykah Badu, Chrisette Michelle, Talib Kweli, P. Diddy, The Polyphonic Spree, etc.), yet possesses a sound distinctly separate from any of their individual projects.

The Funky Knuckles move together musically as a school of fish, never complacent and always stretching the boundaries of improvisation and composition. Whether performing original music or standards, they draw from each member’s musical experiences to create their unique genre-bending sound. After the release of their debut album on GroundUP Music, As of Lately, The Knuckles added a full-time horn section and began touring nationally.

Meta-Musica (also on GroundUP), climbed the iTunes Jazz Charts to become the #1 selling record in the United States the day it was released.

Watch The Funky Knuckles' official music video for "Arise" here:

Broccoli Samurai

Since forming in the Rustbelt of Cleveland, OH in 2010, Broccoli Samurai has been taking the club and festival scene by storm. The band's synth-laden, drum and bass influenced, progressive electronica has been thrilling audiences throughout the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast markets, winning them a massive and fiercely loyal fanbase. Eager fans pack dance floors and late-night festival sets with smiles across their faces, waiting to get lost in the band’s ambient soundscapes, anticipating every bass drop that will force them to move with reckless abandon. Broccoli Samurai’s line-up includes founding member Ryan “Bruce” Hodson on keys and synth, Cameron Bickley on drums and percussion, accomplished bassist Zach Wolfe anchors the rhythm section, while guitarist Michael Vincent weaves in and out, exploring new sonic territory.
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The band has played countless festivals such as Peach Music Festival, Electric Forest, Catskill Chill Music Festival, Aura Music and Art Festival, The Werk Out, BIG What?!, Domefest, Paradise Music and Art Festival, Rootwire, The Mad Tea Party Jam, The Ville, SummerDance, Disc Jam, Night Lights Fall Music Festival, The Gathering At Chaffee’s, Utica Music and Art Festival, and Hyperion Fest. Broccoli Samurai has directly supported and toured with many known bands including Dopapod, Papadosio, Lotus, Conspirator, The Werks, Ozric Tentacles, BoomBOX, Big Gigantic, Rusted Root, O.A.R., Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Aqueous, and BIG Something. Broccoli Samurai’s extensive tour schedule has them playing high profile venues and major cities regularly, and the band will be increasing the number of performances and expanding their reach into the West Coast and Southern markets. This band is making big moves and the time to take notice is now.

Watch an entire set from Broccoli Samurai at Asheville Music Hall here:

  Soul Mechanic

Soul Mechanic is a progressive funk group hailing from Chattanooga, Tennessee. Soul Mechanic have been honing their unique sound through a relentless tour regime. Soul Mechanic is William English-Guitar, Jessica Nunn-Viola, Marcus White-Keyboard, Parrish Gabriel-Bass, and Devonte Hutchins-Drums.  Soul Mechanic brings a progressive rock sound with influences from all across the board. Keeping you groovin' for an entire set with an innovative soul sound, heavy on the bass and light on the heart. Soul Mechanic's main focus is having a good time with our crowd, and dancin' the night away with them.

Watch Soul Mechanic perform "Senseless" at Rhythm & Brews in Chattanooga here:

Little Raine Band

Little Raine Band is a band truly on the rise, and is quickly becoming known as the hottest act in the Southeast. With an ever-evolving sound and fan base reaching all over the Southeast these young musicians have pledged their lives to master the art of live performance and creating a one of a kind live show. Little Raine Band is a four-piece band from Birmingham, AL that craft their sound from their unique musical backgrounds and an intense passion to follow their dream. Elements of progressive rock, funk, jazz fusion, electronic music, R&B, and energetic improvisations can be heard in a Little Raine Band show along with covers to cater to any crowd.

Watch Little Raine Band perform "New Beginnings" at Exit/In in Nashville here:

Permagroove

Permagroove is a Rock-n-Roll band originally from Fort Payne, AL currently touring regionally in support of their new album, “Perfectly Broken Machine.” With a lot of momentum behind them, the band is seeing a surge of new fans coming to their shows to hear the eclectic sounds blended from many genres. Permagroove’s tight grooves, spacious jams are delivered by top notch musicianship and classic southern taste. This, combined with crafty songwriting and memorable lyrics makes Permagroove a relevant up-and-coming act on the music scene.

Watch Permagroove perform Bob Marley's "Could You Be Loved" at Zydeco in Birmingham here:

 Imperial Blend

Imperial Blend is a four piece Electronic/Rock group based out of Greensboro, NC. Their live shows are filled with captivating ambiance and sonic textures. Having soft guitar mixing with tantalizing keys, and tempered percussion propelling heavy dropping bass lines, Imperial Blend will keep you moving during the entire show. Since they began playing shows in March 2011 they have gained a steady following and a lot of love. They have shared the stage with such bands as Zoogma, Dopapod, The Mantras, The Heavy Pets, Jimkata, BIG Something as well as having the privilege to play sets at Camp Barefoot, Gnarnia, Mantrabash, and many others

Watch Imperial Blend perform "Starship" at The Blind Tiger here:

 Voodoo Visionary

Voodoo Visionary hails from the dirty south musical mecca of Atlanta. Their improvisational funk dance music delicately balances a tight, grooving rhythm section with diverse and dexterous keys and masterful guitar licks to create a sound the group calls psychofunk. Influenced by a wide array of artists such as Parliament Funkadelic, the Meters, the Grateful Dead, and Talking Heads, Voodoo Visionary has a uniquely blended sound that’s guaranteed to put the 'oogie in yo boogie.

The band is made up of Dennis Dowd (keys), Jimmy Lynch (bass), Scott MacDonald (vocals), Mac Schmitz (drums), and Mike Wilson (guitar). Wilson, Schmitz and Lynch have been playing together for over 8 years, during which time they built a unique chemistry that allows for exceptional improvisation during live shows. MacDonald joined the group in July 2013 as the lead vocalist and Voodoo Visionary began writing new music and playing shows immediately. Dowd was added to the band in March 2014 providing a missing link that enhanced the band’s distinctive sound, and the group has since taken off in the Atlanta music scene. Jose Rivera (percussion), Martin Anderson (saxophone), and Ben Otieno (trumpet) are regular additions to the live show and are featured on Voodoo Visionary's sophomore album.

Voodoo Visionary released their debut album, Spirit of the Groove in March 2015. Over the past two years, while playing across the southeast, the band has shared the stage with acts such as Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe with Jimmy Herring, TAUK, Col. Bruce Hampton, Zach Deputy, Earphunk, Roosevelt Collier, Jerry Joseph, The Main Squeeze, and Futurebirds. The band has been performing at venues like Variety Payhouse, Terminal West, the Georgia Theatre, Barrelhouse South, Ringside Cafe, and Crowbar, as well as major festivals such as Counterpoint Music and Arts Festival and Sweetwater 420 Fest. The band has made live radio appearances on WUGA's It's Friday program, WMNF's In the Groove, and WPRK's Green Eggs and Jams. In 2016, they have excelled further into the regional and national music scene with festival performances at Sweetwater 420 Fest, Purple Hatters Ball, Great Outdoors Jam, Imagine Festival, Hookahville, and Backwoods Music Festival. They are scheduled to release their second studio album, “Off The Ground,” in February 2017.

Watch Voodoo Visionary perform "Hold TIght" at Variety Playhouse in Atlanta here:

Dirk Quinn Band

Dirk Quinn is the guitarist for a high energy funk/jazz band based out of Philadelphia that travels extensively throughout the US and Canada. Utilizing over a decade of steady performing, Quinn has developed a unique and progressive style - one that appeals to a wide variety of music listeners with fans ranging from the jam band hippies to the jazz snobs.

Surrounding himself with a group of extremely talented and like-minded musicians, Quinn has been playing shows across North America while receiving an ever increasing amount of media attention. His music has now been featured on over 100+ radio stations worldwide and gets regular airplay in his hometown of Philadelphia. Notable spins include the "Pick of the Day" on WXPN in Philadelphia as well as on the nationally syndicated "Keller's Cellar" broadcast hosted by Keller Williams.

The band’s infectious energy and musical interplay routinely attract listeners that are admittedly more accustomed to lyric-based music. With great melodic sensibilities, rhythmic experimentation and an accessible modern edge, the Dirk Quinn Band is jazz/funk improvisation at its most exciting!

Watch Dirk Quinn Band perform "Easy Comes Easy" at Pub Down Under here: 

Roxy Roca

No one leaves a Roxy Roca show dissatisfied. A sonic shot to the arm of Texas infused, powerhouse-southern soul and funk complete with a certain tightness only achievable after playing an average of more than 220 shows a year. Roxy Roca shows are like stepping into a tent-revival somewhere in the Deep South, and crooner Taye Cannon is here to speak the gospel. Each tune flows over with hooky guitar riffs, funky backbeats, slammin’ horn lines, and lyrics of love, heartache, and a message of choosing happiness above all else sung with a conviction and sincerity as only Roxy Roca’s green-eyed Soul-Cannon can deliver.

Hailing from Austin, Texas, the band has come a long way in the short time it has existed. 2015 brought with it the release of Roxy Roca’s latest album, Ain’t Nothin’ Fancy, on Stag Records. Recorded at EAR Studio in Austin with producer Lars Goransson at the helm, the record captures the classic sounds reminiscent of Stax, Motown, and Domino Records. One might say the band wears its influences on its sleeve, and any member of the six-piece soul outfit would happily list off the forefathers of soul and funk.

Now two albums deep, and hundreds of shows later, Roxy Roca has had the good fortune to share the stage with some incredible acts ranging from outright classics such as B.B. King, Tom Jones, and Lee Fields to more modern acts like Fitz and The Tantrums, Mayer Hawthorne, Trombone Shorty, and Vintage Trouble. The future looks bright for Roxy Roca, and there is no end in sight.

Watch Roxy Roca's official music video for "Love Maker DeVille" here:

Supatight

Currently out of Asheville, NC, Supatight delivers a high energy live performance that is funk driven and appeals to a wide variety of audiences. While specializing in hard-hitting funk, their music incorporates elements of reggae, soul, jazz, and comedic country. Supatight blends intricately timed grooves with improvisational components resulting in an authentic, full sound, drawing diverse styles from every member of the band.

Supatight formed in Durham, NC in 2008 with the original lineup consisting of Tyler Mack (Vocals/Bass/Trumpet), Mikey Domanico (Rhythm Guitar), Max Palmer (Drums), Nigel Kher (Saxophone), and Torrey Beek (Lead Guitar). The original members were spread out at different Universities across NC, allowing the band to build a following from the mountains to the coast. The band relocated to Boone, NC in 2011 where they added Matt Powers (Keys), Will Miller (Drums), and Charlie Evans (Lead Guitar). While sticking to the fundamental funk orientation the band was founded on, Supatight continues to evolve, producing fresh new grooves that have audiences dancing up and down the east coast.

Watch SupaTight's official music video for "Kick Rox" here:

Rescue Dogs

Rescue Dogs was formed in September of 2009 by Birmingham musicians Andy Gathings, Daniel Belk, Bobby Bruner, Derek Nolin, Clifford Smith and Daniel Long. Combining raw and earthen tones from Classic Rock and Roll, the smooth and funky sounds of Southern Soul, a generous dose of down-home Americana, and compelling traditional Rhythms from around the globe, Rescue Dogs forge an energetic and eclectic sonance accompanied by an express invitation to move!

Watch Rescue Dogs perform "Driving Song" at Stillwater Pub here:

 

Click Here: Purchase Your CukoRakko Tickets Today!


The Road To CukoRakko: Jud Mize of Winston Ramble October 06, 2016 10:14

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Our latest segment, "The Road to CukoRakko," consists of a series of interviews leading up to CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival this weekend at Horse Pens 40 in Steele, AL.  We're continuing this segment by sitting down with Jud Mize of Winston Ramble, who will be playing on Saturday night on the main stage at CukoRakko. Based in Birmingham, Alabama, Winston Ramble is a homegrown, acoustic, folk-rock band. With members originally hailing from the free state of Winston County, AL, the band aims to interject the raw expression of rock-n-roll into the feel-good vibes of acoustic music.
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Winston Ramble is scheduled to play the main stage on Saturday, October 8th at 6:45 PM.  
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Let's get started with a little general history on the band.  Winston Ramble originally started as an acoustic duo which eventually evolved into the current five-piece.  What comes to mind when thinking back to those first few shows as a full band?
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Jud:  It was total chaos.  It was like, "Here...play a 4 hour show.  Here are the chords."  Justin and Ben had been doing it for so long.  You don't realize all the tiny things; the punches and dynamics that make it what it is.  The way we play covers that are so unique that it was like learning each song as something completely new.  One week, we were sitting on our butt working at Best Buy, and the next week we were playing a rock and roll show at Stillwater in Birmingham.  We were all friends going back to high school.  Martha, our drummer, didn't even play drums...I was like what in the world?!  The bands whole vibe is to play by ear.  Not anything structured or set in stone.  Just playing what feels right in the moment.  Everybody in the band is playing something just a bit different.  We have always been on the same page musically and it just works.
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You can hear a vast variety of influences coming through each Winston Ramble track.  How would you say you have gone about developing your individual sound?  Who and what do you look to as inspiration when writing original material?
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Jud:  We all kind of know what we want.  We look to each other for the inspiration instead of looking to the outside.  We all grew up with the same influences so we all know what we like and don't like.  The biggest inspiration for me now is Justin (Oliver) and Ben (Drew Benefield).  One of us will come up with an idea and the others will play on it and add to it.  "Cold, Cold Heart" started out as a slow and depressing song.  Justin wanted to speed it up and from there it turned into a bluegrass track. 
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It's been an exciting year for Winston Ramble.  The band seems to be picking up steam; adding more and more shows around Alabama the southeast.  What has been the core focus for you guys as of late?
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Jud:  The calendar has been full, and we've been focusing on playing each show with everything we have.  The set has been getting tighter, and more people have been coming out.  It's great.  Ben is really dialing in his electric guitar and it's rocking.  That new electric vibe is really shining through the new material.  We are all really excited.
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While the band is generally an acoustic, folk rock band, your music is also described as carrying "a funky, sometimes psychedelic, but ultimately an undeniable rock n' roll vibe."  Is the band's diverse sound something that comes natural, or do you make a conscious effort to mix things up?
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Jud: It definitely comes natural.  The way we play our songs transforms them into rock and roll tunes. "Working Mans Blues," "Scarlet Begonias," and a lot of our songs end and you feel like you have just heard a rock and roll tune.  We're not democrats.  We're not republicans.  We're not country.  We're not a jam band.  What we do is our own thing.   Our shows are like a bag of Chex Mix.  You're gonna hear a ton of songs you don't hear other bands play in that variety.
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Watch Winston Ramble's cover of "Workingman's Blues" here:
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We're coming up on a special weekend for Winston Ramble and the state of Alabama in general: CukoRakko.  You've been fortunate enough to play this festival in past years.  What is it that makes this festival so unique?  What does it mean to you guys to be back again this fall?
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Jud:  The geography and terrain are one of a kind.  Where else can you go in Alabama that is as spectacular as Horse Pens 40 and Steele in general.  There are a lot of friendly faces.  Everybody is there to have a good time.  Rain or shine.  Warm or chilly...everybody is getting down.  We cleared our calendar and will be there all weekend camping with everybody.  We turned down $600,000 worth of shows to be there...just kidding.  
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Before we wrap things up, what can your fans expect from Winston Ramble as you close out 2016 and approach the new year?  Any big plans on the horizon? 
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Jud:  Well, I just cleaned out the bands new van.  I've got all these extra tokens from the car wash, so we'll probably use those at some point.  We've got a lot of new material in works that are funky and rocking.  We have some great shows on the calendar to finish out the year.  We are working on getting out of Alabama, and the van is our ticket.  We are excited to share our music with as many people as we can.
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The Road To CukoRakko: An Interview With Captain Midnight September 30, 2016 12:43

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Photo by Butch Worrell
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Our latest segment, "The Road to CukoRakko," consists of a series of interviews leading up to CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival this weekend at Horse Pens 40 in Steele, AL.  We're continuing this segment by sitting down with Captain Midnight himself (aka Josh Cooker), who will be playing the late night set on Saturday, as well as a special tribute set on Sunday afternoon.  The Captain Midnight Band was born in New Orleans, LA in 2002 and relocated to East Nashville following Hurricane Katrina.  While various lineups have continued the band's legacy through 2002, The Captain has managed to solidify this band as a mainstay in the Southeast.  Get to know this wildly entertaining band and prepare yourself for what will certainly be two of the most discussed sets of the weekend.
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The Captain Midnight Band is scheduled to play the late night set on Saturday, October 8th under the pavilion at CukoRakko.  They will also play a special "Dead set" on Sunday at 1:00 PM on the main stage. Share this post from Live & Listen's Facebook page and tag a friend in the comments for a chance to win two weekend passes to the festival.
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Photo by Scott Shrader
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You started The Captain Midnight Band in New Orleans back in 2002.  Lets talk a little bit about your history down there.  What comes to mind when thinking back to your NOLA days?
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Midnight:  I was originally involved with a bigger band called Cronk, and the band was basically a supergroup of nobodies.  It was some of the guys that were in the band All That, a guy from Kermit Ruffin's band, a guy from Walter "Wolfman" Washington's band, UNO jazz guys who were sick of the doing the same old thing...oh, and me.  I had just moved down there, and bascially, we had this band where everyone was writing and singing.  I was writing a lot, and I wanted to do my songs, but there wasn't enough stage time to handle the amount of stuff I was writing.
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So, I started a side project that allowed me to focus on playing my stuff.  I was fortunate enough to enlist most of the people in that band.  When Cronk was playing, everyone would sing and write.  We would take turns, and I would maybe do three songs a night.  I was trying to create an outlet to play the rest of my material that the band couldn't accommodate.  I had the best people available to do it.  I played with some really heavy cats down there.  That's really where I really developed my style. Before I got down there, I was basically a rock player.  Playing with horn players and jazz guys, you learn a whole new way to approach things. 
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One of the many things that originally intrigued me about your band is the phrase "waterbed rock and roll."  I've definitely never heard that description before, but somehow it seems perfect for your music.  How did you guys end up coming up with this?
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Midnight: That's a good question.  So, this friend of mine and I used to joke around about country music in the late 70's...like Mickey Gilley, Razzy Bailey, and some of those guys.  We used to call it "waterbed country," because it was like, (sings) "Lookin' for love in all the wrong places!"  It was country music with over processed drums and almost a sleazy vibe to it.  Waterbed country was just how we described it, almost as a put-down.  So, when I started doing my solo band, people would talk about how we go through all the extra trouble of the costumery, the stage show, and some even thought it was a little sleazy.  I told them, "It's kind of like a waterbed.  There's motion. You go through a lot more trouble to set it up, but the pay off is a lot better down the road."  
There's also that implication that something is going to be done on that waterbed.  Something dirty and worth it. It's not just going to sit there.  It's also moving, you know?  It is a pain in the ass to set up.  Things can go wrong, but like a waterbed, if you want to go through the trouble, the payoff is grand. 
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Watch Captain Midnight Band perform "Common Law Hussy" here:
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Anyone who sees you play will quickly realize that there is a heavy influence from The Dead.  The first time I saw you guys, you busted out "Help On The Way" and "Dark Star."  How did you get turned on to the Dead, and how much of an influence has Jerry and Bobby's guitar playing had on you?
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Midnight:  Man...this could be an entire chapter.  I'm 43-years-old, so when I was an impressionable kid, that was in the hey day of the LA metal scene: Ratt, Motley Crue, Ozzy Osborne...and I'm not talking about the latter day stuff when it got real soft.  I'm talking about 1983 and 1984, before it become a huge pop thing.  As I got older, I started getting more into classic rock and my parents' records.  I was also simultaneously getting frustrated with creative output of some of the bands that were softening and kind of losing their edge to money and success. The Dead really piqued my interest.  Like a lot of people, I had my older brother's copy of Long Strange Trip, and the songs were just so different and weird to me.  Also, I didn't have a lot of friends who were listening to it yet, so I kind of got it into it by accident.  I stumbled upon it. 
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I was always intrigued with the fact that you can't go anywhere on the planet without seeing a "stealie" or some dancing skeletons or bears.  That was kind of always in my face, especially growing up in Oxford (MS) and going to Ole Miss.  Musically, I just found it to be so interesting, and I still do  There is so much of it, and it wasn't like anything that I'd been listening to.  I loved the idea later that you can go on stage, take a chance, and it may not work, but the audience was more excited about you taking that chance and it not working out than playing the same shit every night.  You know?  That really, really appealed to me.
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When I started seeing the Dead in the 90's, I saw a couple of hot Jerry shows, but a lot of the time, it would be Phil or Bobby that was really picking up the slack.  I don't want to say they were overcompensating, but when maybe Garcia was struggling a little bit, I would always gravitate towards Phil and Weir.  I would pay a lot of attention to how they operated.  That really gave me a great basis for when I moved to New Orleans and started playing with these horn guys, too. Phil and Bobby don't play like normal bass or guitar players. They used to get a lot of shit for it, too. Seems like folks are coming around though.  They really developed their own style based on what the band became and evolved into. My stuff is more structured, I think, but I love to take the GD approach when we're jamming on the improv sections.
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That was a big turn on for me.  Obviously, I love the poetry of Barlow, Hunter, and Phil's guy Petersen. Those guys are amazing.  I think the lyrical content is every bit as vital as the music.  Not a lot is discussed about that in musical realms.  What sealed the deal for me was seeing something that doesn't rely on pandering to anyone.  They were basically up there doing whatever they wanted to.  There is an unexpected thrill to it.  Some of those long breaks on "Bird Song," obviously "Dark Star," and songs like that really appeal to me.  Even just using different tones for songs that are played kind of straight.  I felt like it was limitless, and that's what I wanted to do in music as well. That's what I do in my life, too, come to think of it.
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Photo by Sundaze Media
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I would totally agree with that.  There's never been anyone like them, and there never will be again.  I was lucky to stumble onto them accidentally as well, largely in part to older siblings.  I got my first Dead album when I was nine or ten years old.  Their music is inspiring on another level.
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Midnight:  And as your picking up these CDs, the cool thing is that you meet other Deadheads who insist on giving you tapes.  "This CD is cool kid, but let me give you a sleeve of tapes."  I was working at this record store in Oxford, and my boss was an old Deadhead.  My other boss was a slightly younger Deadhead.  These guys would just lay these cassette tapes on me.  Back then, you had to know somebody to get that music.  There was no internet.  When someone gives you a sleeve of tapes from Barton Hall, Harper College, and Kezar Stadium, listening is all you're going to do (laughs).  Holy shit!  It was like gold, and it still is to me.  I still have a cassette player hooked up in my basement, and I have about 25% of my original tapes.  I lost most of them in Katrina.  I still throw those on.  Most of them sound like shit, but the music is there (laughs).
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That's priceless.  So, you mentioned Katrina.  I wanted to hear more about how you ultimately landed in Nashville.  I'm assuming this was shortly after Katrina?
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Midnight:  Oh yeah.  I bought a house in New Orleans in the Spring of 2005, and on September 1st, it has four feet of water in it.  A bunch of New Orleans people all moved to East Nashville, because they all worked in production.  My roommate was a tech for the Radiators.  My brother and a lot of us moved up here.  We wanted to stay in the south and didn't want to have to deal with snow.  Nashville was still a pretty small city back then.  It was very comparable to New Orleans, in terms of size.  We realized that we could probably do even more here.  We could stretch out and tour in places that we couldn't before.  You could go to Asheville, Atlanta, Indianapolis, and Chicago.  If you're in New Orleans, and you're not on a major label, you're either going to Florida, Texas, or Jackson, MS (laughs).
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Listen to "Witch's Tit" by Captain Midnight Band here:
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That makes sense.  Nashville is definitely a much more centrally located spot.
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Midnight:  Yeah...Katrina is what got me to Nashville.  I stayed at my folks' house in Oxford for about 10 months.  I had some insurance money, and I could have moved anywhere.  Then I blew the insurance money going to Hawaii to visit Lil Rae Rae, who is now our keyboard player and lives in Nashville with me.  So, it was a good investment (laughs).  Of course, you still can't get seafood here, but they're trying.
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I guess there are plenty of places having it shipped next-day, but you can't replicate the New Orleans cuisine.
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Midnight: Totally.  Getting it and cooking it properly are two entirely different things (laughs). Its actually getting a lot better. I'm probably bitching about too much. Nashville is cool. It ain't New Orleans.
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That's for sure.  So, I wanted to talk to you a little bit about the Captain Midnight catalog.  First and foremost, we have to start with "Shady Box."  I am convinced that the right music video could turn that song into an international hit.  It has an explosive sound, and it makes people move.  The story line intrigues me even more.  Can you elaborate on that particular tune?
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Midnight:  Well, I have to confess, a lot of the songs that I write...there is a basis there.  I don't know how printable this is, but sometimes you have a song idea.  You have lyrics, and you have have a concept.  Sometimes something happens to you, and you want to write a song about it.  That's normally the case.  Something occurs, and you start writing it.  Regarding "Shady Box," I had that solo section that does all of the modulations.  I had been fooling around with that for years...the guitar solo.  I knew that I wanted to put it somewhere.  I knew it was a little "heady."  So at some point, I decided that I wanted to put it in the middle of a dance song and really fuck everything up, you know?  It's got kind of a jam/rock/dance thing going on.  After "waterbed rock and roll," we describe our music sometimes as "rock/jam/R&B."  I think that song is really a flagship for that.  
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As far as coming up with it lyrically, no shit, I was sitting on my couch with my dog.  I had eaten a bunch of mushrooms, and my girlfriend was out of town.  Those lyrics were almost entirely stream of consciousness.  So, sometimes you come up with a story that makes sense, and other times, you get these words that sound like that they need to be there.  I'd hate to make up some story about it being an elaborate thing, but the reality is that it's kind of syllables to go to a dance beat.  They just kind of came out on a psychedelic excursion on the couch with my dog.  I'd look at him and just play something.  When you're a litter "heightened" and there are animals around, you can get a vibe if they like it or not (laughs).  So, if you like how that one came out, you can thank Klaus for that one, because we was sitting there wagging his tail and giving me a thumbs up on most of it.  
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Listen to "Shady Box" by Captain Midnight Band here:
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That song has some really great one-liners.  "Hope I didn't disappoint ya.  Baby I just wanted to anoint ya" might be my favorite.  It makes me laugh everytime.
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Midnight:  (laughs) Thanks man!  That's the thing about that song.  It's just a collection of one liners, really.  I mean, "Beat the bible, holy roll.  Midnight Band 'bout to shave your soul."  I mean, there is no place for that in society, but it fits in that song.  Maybe there is, but for me, that was one that came to me in like 10-minutes.  That was after having the actual music for probably 10 years though.  
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I've noticed that there is a little bit of a common theme in your music.  There is the fun, energetic, dance groove to it, mixed with catchy lyrics with just the right amount of humor to it.  I'm talking about "Witch's Tit," "LaToya," "Jug of Wine"... I love listening to those songs.  They make me laugh for all of the right reasons.  
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Midnight:  Well thanks man.  I never set out to be wacky, you know?  You write what you know.  I like to have fun. I like to laugh. And I like strong R&B grooves.  
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Defintely.  "Jug of Wine" is another one that gets me every time.  It's a totally different vibe than the other tunes I mentioned, but damn, that is a funny song too.  
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Midnight:  That's an old one, man.  I wrote that song in like 1992, before I moved to New Orleans.  A lot of that stuff that I wrote with my old band in Oxford carried over.  "Witch's Tit" is from 1996.  A lot of these songs are really old, and many of them have been around more than half of my life.  Even though not that many people know them, they're a huge part of who I am.  I'll find myself on stage at SummerFest singing "Jug of Wine" in front of a ton of people, and it will just hit me like, "I can't believe that I'm saying this at age 43."  How many people are gonna be hip to the  Barney Miller Night Court musical reference in the center of it?  I'm glad you dig it though.  I try to make it real.  If you're mentioning songs like "Jug of Wine" that you really dig, then stuff like "Shady Box," you're dealing with about 20 year bookends of music.  That's crazy.  I'm really pleased to hear that you like the old stuff and the new stuff.  
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Listen to "Jug of Wine" by Captain Midnight Band here:
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You know how to kick off a song and get someone intrigued man.  With "Jug of Wine," those opening lines are epic.  "Well, the sun is getting hot, but you're girlfriend's even hotter."  That's incredible.  After seeing you guys that night, I kept hearing "Shady Box" and "Jug of Wine" in my head, and thanks to Spotify and Facebook, I was able to instantly connect.  
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Midnight:  That's so cool, because if you can hear our stuff live, it translates over, and you go home and listen to it...what more can a person ask for?
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It's funny how things work out sometimes man.  So, in terms of CukoRakko next weekend, you guys are scheduled for two sets: late night on Saturday and a day set on Sunday.
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Midnight:  For the late night set, we're really going to peacock around and put our best original feet forward.  We're playing with some great bands, and we're going to keep the dance vibe going.  The late night spot is a heavy responsibility.  We're going to play stuff that you can dance to, stuff that you can freak out to, and stuff that you can pump your fist to.  That's what we're trying to do.  I've talked with a couple of the Backup Planet dudes, as well as Kaitlin from Maradeen, and we may even take a segment to do a big collaboration for a song or two.  We're all friends, and we all like each others bands for the same reasons. 
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For Sunday, we've been asked to do a Dead set, which we are very excited about.  Sunday will be all Grateful Dead a la Captain Midnight Band.  I believe everyone is doing a Dead set on Sunday, from what I hear.  I hope that the bands communicate though.  People ask us to do it, and we love doing it. We did Jerry Day in Atlanta this year, and we also did a show with Dark Star Orchestra.  I hope the bands  get together on who's playing what.  The last thing we need is three Franklin's Towers to make you just hate the whole idea.  
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I like to mix it up, and I like diversity.  Being a mostly original band, we focus mostly on writing our own stuff.  We have a small, but ferocious Dead catalog. Like you mentioned earlier, "Help On The Way" > "Slipknot" takes a lot of work.  "Terrapin" takes a lot of work.  We've learned a lot of songs that we hope a lot of other bands aren't going to try to jump on, but you never know.  A Dead cover band should have 100 tunes in their pocket, if they're going to bill themselves as that.  If they don't, they should start learning them.
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A band like us, we're playing our own songs 90% of the time, so we can't just go and learn 50 Dead covers.  Maybe by the end of the Captain Midnight Band, we'll have 100 down.  So, we're excited about the Dead set on Sunday.  Hopefully, no repeats.  Saturday will be a late night, Captain Midnight buffet.
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Good lord.  I can't wait. 
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Click Here: Purchase Tickets to CukoRakko!

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Maradeen & Bird Dog Jubilee To Play CukoRakko Pre-Party On October 6th September 20, 2016 11:53

Just in case you weren't already excited enough about the upcoming CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival, further details on the Thursday night pre-party (Oct. 6th) have officially been announced.  Nashville-based jam/rock quintet Maradeen will headline the pre-party, with direct support from Atlanta's Bird Dog Jubilee.  Both bands had been previously announced on the festival lineup, which means festival goers will have the opportunity to get a double dose of both of these hot young acts.  Make sure to head to the official Facebook event page for the pre-party for all of the latest updates on Thursday night's festivities.  

CukoRakko's Fall Fest will be held at Horse Pens 40 in Steele, AL from Thursday, October 6th - Sunday, October 9th.  The lineup this fall will feature as diverse and exciting of a lineup as we have seen from the festival, including the likes of The Heavy Pets, Funk You, Col. Bruce Hampton & Madrid Express feat. Carter Herring, Backup PlanetWinston RambleDank & Friends, The Captain Midnight Band (x2), Maradeen, Mama's Love, Dank & Friends, The Stolen Faces, Jason Bailey Band, Boy Named BanjoRoyal & Toulouse, Bird Dog JubileeSeeds?and Harkestra's Grateful Gospel Jamboree.

Click Here: Purchase your CukoRakko tickets today!

Maradeen

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Maradeen is an American rock band based out of Nashville, Tennessee. Founded by guitarist, Whit Murray, in the summer of 2014 with keyboardist, Kaitlyn Connor, and bassist, Sterling Miller, the band formed their initial roots as a high energy rock n roll quartet. With classical and jazz improvisation backgrounds they forged and evolved a unique and well-versed sound. In 2015 Tom Galloway moved to Nashville for songwriting and began collaborations with Murray. The band entered the analog studio "Welcome to 1979" in the spring of 2015 and recorded their first full-length LP entitled, "Mirage". The album features the initial hard-hitting rockers from the band's formative stage while revealing the new songwriting dynamic between Murray and Galloway.

Although the band was new to the scene at this time, the origins of Maradeen run deep. Murray played lead guitar for Galloway's band, Mama's Love, between the years of 2009-12. During this time they toured nationwide, developed a devoted fanbase, and recorded with renowned producers Tom Tapley and John Keane. Galloway continued fronting Mama's Love while Murray extended his education at The Berklee College of Music.

Mama's Love had shared the stage with the progressive rock band, Afro, several times in the past which featured Connor on keys. Connor met Miller through the MTSU music program where Miller majored in audio engineering and played with bands Harrison Anvil and The Bourbon Barrel Band. A long line of history, coincidence, and mutual passion brought together the group, and they continue to make strides as they climb the mountain of music.

Listen to Maradeen's new single "Livin' For The Weekend" here:

Official Music Video - "She Treat Me Like a Real Man"

Bird Dog Jubilee

Bird Dog Jubilee is a 4 piece jam band from Atlanta, GA whose sound blends classic and psychedelic rock with a touch of the blues. Formed in early 2014 playing private parties and outdoor festivals, they quickly developed their own style through different influences. Bird Dog Jubilee’s use of musical improvisation and blend of musical genres sets them apart from what you see on stage today. Inspired by The Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead, The Band, and Phish, Bird Dog Jubilee has crafted their own unique sound with catchy lyrics, intricate guitar riffs, and crunchy jams. Always playing a different set and using different theatrics, they will keep you begging for more.

Watch BDJ jam on Phish's "Bathtub Gin" here:

Click Here: Purchase your CukoRakko tickets today!

Click Here: Learn More About The Blueberry Jam (10/14-10/15)


The Road To CukoRakko: The Reunion of Mama's Love September 15, 2016 12:25

 
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Our latest segment, "The Road to CukoRakko," consists of a series of interviews leading up to CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival this weekend at Horse Pens 40 in Steele, AL.  We're kicking off the segment by taking a look into a special reunion set from one of our favorite bands of the past, Mama's Love.  Mama's Love was born in Athens, Georgia in 2007 and took the southeast by storm for many years.  While various lineups continued the band's legacy through 2014, the core lineup will perform at CukoRakko for the first time since December of 2011.  We recently sat down with Thomas Galloway (guitar/vocals) and Whit Murray (lead guitar/vocals) to relive some of the old memories and see what we can expect at Horse Pens 40 next month.
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Mama's Love is scheduled to play on Friday, October 7th at 8:15 on the Main Stage at CukoRakko.  Share this post from Live & Listen's Facebook page and tag a friend in the comments for a chance to win two weekend passes to the festival.
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-Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
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Let's start off by talking a little bit about the beginning of Mama's Love back in Athens, GA.
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Thomas:  The band formed back in 2007 in Athens, Ga.  Most of us were in school there at the time.  I had been playing with William Boyd (keyboards) since high school, as well as Patrick Atwater, the original bassist.  So, there was already some chemistry going. Boyd looped in his cousin Ben Torbert who became the original drummer.  Then we hooked up with Taylor Knox, the original guitarist, who had played with some of us in another project called The Shady Boys.  We went through a few names while playing together and eventually became Mama's Love. Pretty soon after, we recorded our first studio album Willow Street Sessions, and we played around Athens and the southeast from 2007-2009 with that initial lineup.  

Knox left the band towards the end of '09 to pursue another career so we were searching for a new guitarist.  We had played with Whit's band, Perfect Colour, out of Raleigh, and he was friends with Knox and all of us.  I think Whit was in a position to make moves to Athens, and he was interested in making it work.  So, he came on board in 2009.  We also changed things up with Bo Nicholson as our new bassist around that time of transition. Patrick went on to study Jazz bass in Colorado.  Soon after, we went to Southern Tracks Studio in Atlanta and recorded the self-titled EP with Tom Tapley.  We toured in support of that for a while, and eventually followed that up with a full length LP with John Keane in 2011 called, The Great Divide.  

We toured around the southeast pretty heavily during that time.  I guess soon after The Great Divide, different factors cause the band to dissolve.  I was still living in Athens, and after some soul searching, I had the opportunity to get another really talented group of players together to keep the music going.  We recorded the single, "Beyond the Divide" with Keane and we actually have a shelved album "Stone Farm Redemption" that I hope will see the light of day at some point.  That lineup toured heavily between 2012-2014 and we still occasionally play a few shows from time to time

Listen to "Wake Up Woes" by Mama's Love here:

Very cool.  So Whit, as you guys were saying, it was right around 2009 when everyone was finishing school, and you ultimately came on board.  How did that come about in your eyes, and what drew you in to make the move down to Athens and take on this new venture?
 
Whit:  I think it was a football tailgate in 2007 when I first saw ML. I was down in Athens, and my one of my good friends from home was living with (Taylor) Knox.  I would visit Athens all the time from University of South Carolina, and I would stay with them. Knox and I would always play guitars, and he told me he was playing with his new band at the tailgate the next day and that I should sit in on a song.  I remember it was "Mama Lay Your Hair Down."  G Blues! He was telling me about Thomas, and how he had written all of these songs.  He kept raving about how Ben was the best drummer he had ever played with, too.  So, I met all of them and sat in.  Then, the following summer, I worked at a summer camp with (Patrick) Atwater, and they had just recorded Willow Street Sessions.  He played me the album and it was so good, especially compared to anything that anyone I knew was doing. Not many of our peers were writing their own music at the time. So, we got to be friends and they'd always let me sit in when I came to town and vice versa. 
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When I graduated from college in 2008, I moved home and nobody my age could get a job because of the crash. So I put a band together and really put my energy into that. Raleigh has a pretty cool, smaller music scene but I knew I'd have to move to a mecca if I really wanted to get involved and Athens at the time was buzzing. It was always in the back of my minds towards the end of college, then when I heard Taylor had left the band and they asked me to fill in temporarily, I went down for a week and checked it out. They had the open room all ready and the shows we played were so much fun, I just kind of stayed... for 2 and a half years. We toured and practiced a heavily and made two albums. It was a blast!  
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Mama's Love - Athens, GA - 2008
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So, like you said, you had about two-and-a-half years of consistent touring and playing a lot of music together.  You guys obviously got to play a lot of new cities and different venues.  When you look back on that time, what are some of the memories that stand out the most?
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Thomas: One of my favorites was going out west for the first time. Seeing and feeling the landscape change as you get further out. We got to open up for Mickey Hart (The Grateful Dead) and Keller Williams.  Actually, that was in Driggs, Idaho, and some Jackson Hole shows.  We did some Colorado and Texas dates too.

Whit: Yeah, I would say the same.  I think that run was about three weeks.  That was our first real tour.  We were typically doing two to four nights a week before that.  Going out west and playing for three weeks when we were fresh out of college was really cool.  We got to go to a lot of places we'd never been and probably haven't been to since.
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Thomas:  That was fun, and you would think being younger and on the road would be easier to do personally, but I almost feel like it's gotten easier with age.  I guess we're just more accustomed to it at this point?
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Whit: There's some conditioning to it, but we were just a lot younger.  We were probably partying a little harder than we can now (laughs).
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Thomas:  One of the really great memories I have was one night at the Georgia Theatre.  Knox was still playing at the time, but we had Whit sit in on "Catch a Feelin".  Almost a passing of the guitar pick foreshadowing moment, although none of us knew it at the time. It was pretty packed out, and we had a bunch of balloons drop during the peak of that song.  That was pretty fun.
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Whit: Oh yeah...that was so cool. The old Theatre, before the fire. 
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Was there any special occasion for the balloon drop that night?
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Thomas: We were just trying to do something cool and different, so we blew up a bunch of balloons ourselves.  They were stored at our house, and we snuck them into the theatre that night, and Big Mike our manager dropped them off the balcony at the right moment.
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Thomas Galloway: ATHFest 2013
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What else would you say was unique about both of your stints with the band?
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Whit: I would say what really stands out to me was how close we all were.  We were such good friends. For instance, if I had to partner off for lunch with someone, it didn't really matter who it was.  Individually, we were all just really tight.  In hindsight, that made the band special.  We got to hop around college towns from night to night and pretend to be rock stars (laughs).
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Thomas:  I would say the same.  We were very fortunate to have found each other.  It wasn't just like, "We're going to start a band.  Where can we find good musicians?"  I feel like, when I look back at it now, Mama's Love is just a big brotherhood of outstanding musicians and people. That's what it was always about.  We recently got to play again at Torbert's wedding, and it was very easy to get back up there and do it.  It felt really natural, you know?
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Whit: It's cool, because I've had a lot of people come up to me and say "Hey, you played our college formal" or some of my favorite memories were going to see you guys play, or something along those lines.  We played a lot of frat gigs back then.  Thomas and I pulled up to Hampden-Sydney last year, and these guys were blaring a Mama's Love album that we recorded 6-7 years ago.  There's a poster at Washington & Lee from a show we played there in 2009 and it's still there! Having people come up and realizing that our music is still being passed down is really cool.
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Listen to "Ragtime Rug" by Mama's Love here:
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Yeah I can imagine that you hear a lot of those stories.  Mama's Love played a major role in so many people's college experience.  I can certainly attest to that.  If you were at Auburn University from 2007-2009 and Mama's Love was in town, you made sure you were there.  If you had a test the next day, you got a doctor's note. 
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Thomas: Another experience from that lineup that really sticks out was one of our band retreats.  We all went up to Atlantic Beach for about a week.  We stayed at Bo's family beach house.  Most of that time was spent in the basement working on new music.  The rest of the time was spent on the beach just having a lot of fun.  
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Whit:  The band house was together for 3 years and it was everyday, you know. Not just playing music but trying to hone our vision and grow our business. I'd always wanted an experience like that and have really fond memories of that period. 
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Whit Murray of Mama's Love
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So, as you were saying, you guys got to return to the stage just a few weeks ago at Ben's wedding at Lake Burton.  That's a nice precursor to this reunion set coming up at CukoRakko in a few weeks.  What is it like for you guys to have this opportunity, and how do you go about preparing for a set at this point?
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Thomas:  Well, we've already been talking a lot about the set.  We're all working on re-familiarizing ourselves with certain songs again.  What's nice about it is that Whit and I are here in Nashville, so we can get together and work on the material.  Boyd and Torbert are in Atlanta, so they can get together. Bo might be the wild card (laughs) but I trust he'll kill it.  I hope we can find the time to get at least one full rehearsal in as a band, but like I was saying, everything was really easy when we just recently played together.  It was almost like time had not passed.
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Whit:  It's so engrained, you know.  It's been a while, but it's in there somewhere.  For it to be able to resurface is just really cool.  You don't full remember until it happens though. One thing about this that is really cool is that it's pretty much been five years since we played a show.  We were all at Taylor's wedding last December, and that was the first time that all of us have had a chance to hang out together since the last time we played.  We kind of just let this thing happen with the CukoRakko opportunity coming up.  We knew that we would do something like this again, but we wanted to let it happen organically.  When the time's right, it's right.  The wedding was such a cool precursor, because we haven't had a chance to play in such a long time. It's really cool how it's all unfolded.  
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Watch Mama's Love perform "Long Willie Jackson" > "Catch a Feelin" at Ben Torbert's wedding reception on August 20th, 2016 here:
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Live & Listen's 'Bands You Should Know': Dank August 26, 2016 09:58

Photo by Christian Stewart

Live & Listen is pleased to continue a brand new weekly feature known as Bands You Should Know. This new concept will highlight a different band each Friday with an interview, general background information, current happenings, as well as videos and audio from each band.  After nearly two years of various interviews and artist spotlights, we feel that installing a consistent weekly feature is the best next step for Live & Listen.

For our seventh edition of Bands You Should Know, we sat down with Matt Henderson of Dank, one of our favorite up-and-coming bands out of Atlanta.  We were first introduced to Dank as they toured around the southeast, and we couldn't be more excited for their upcoming sets at CukoRakko and Funksgiving.  Dank's funky nature leaves you wanting more with every track, and there is no doubt that the future is bright for this group that only seems to get tighter with every show.

 

Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

So you guys officially started the band back in 2010 in Athens.  That's obviously a hotbed for musicians and live music in general.  How did you guys initially get connected and put things into motion?

Matt: Right.  So this current lineup didn't really get solidified until about two years ago.  Athens is such a small community of music and such a small little town.  Everyone kind of knows everyone through friends, or you've played together, or you seen each other's bands play.  That's really how things were born.  Friends of friends got together, started playing, and that's how I got to know all of these guys that are in the band now.  There's just so much music going on, and Athens is such a great atmosphere for playing music.

Things have obviously evolved a bit in the past year.  The band is now operating as a four-piece, and the new EP Get Up definitely has a new, energized sound to it.  Tell me a little bit about the direction the band is moving in right now.

Matt: Absolutely.  I think a lot of it is just that the band has really matured and grown our songwriting.  What we like and want to do musically has changed a bit.  What we listen to, and what we're striving for.  We're really focusing on the songs, and we're trying to write the best songs that we can.  What parts does the song need for the studio?  We've been trying to look at the live show and the record as two entirely different things.  Taking advantage of the studio in different ways, and not always thinking about what would be cool to play live.  

We've focused more on what would be cool for each track once we're in the studio.  How can we make it the best possible song?  How can we use different recording techniques to enhance each song?  That was a conversation that we were having a lot for the Get Up EP.  Moving forward, we want everything to sound a little more mature and tight on the record, while still having a show that is wide open, as far as us being able to improvise and bounce ideas off of each other in the moment.  Trying to keep both aspects of that alive.  

Watch Dank's official music video for "Get Up" here:

How does the improv element work for you guys? Are there particular songs that you're always looking to really open up and run with?

Matt: Definitely.  There are usually a few that we know we are going to open up and see what happens.  There are other songs, like "Get Up" for example, that has that little "end section," which we can kind of adjust accordingly each night.  If we only have a 45-minute set, we usually keep it pretty straight.  If we have more time, we can open up that certain section.  Then, there are other times where we take a song that we've been playing for a few years and haven't really jammed it too much, and we might say, "Lets open up this section tonight and see what happens."  That allows us to keep things fresh for ourselves, too.  If we've been playing the song for a long time, and we feel like it's getting stale, we try to find a way to reinvent what is in the song, for ourselves.  We want to keep in interesting from night to night.  Then, there are other times when we just kind of stumble onto something, and we go from there.

I've talked to several bands who are moving more in the direction of the 3-5 song EPs, rather than putting out full length albums.  There are obviously two sides to that concept.  Studio time isn't cheap, and people's attention spans aren't always there.  Is this something you feel you guys are headed towards?

Matt: Right.  It's funny...we've had that conversation a lot.  It's kind of an ongoing thing that everyone seems to be talking about.  The music industry is so different now.  There is so much content out there.  We decided to go that route this time; keeping things short and sweet.  It's new stuff for people to hear, but yet there is something about the concept of the full album that all of us really love.  You think back to your favorite bands, and most of the time, there is one record that has really stuck with you and made an impact as a whole.  That's something that we really like and haven't taken off of the table.  I think the full record sometimes gives you a little more room to do interesting and creative things with soundscapes between tracks, interludes, or just weirdness in general.  Whereas an EP is more about sticking to the songs and getting them released.  A record allows you to create an entire vibe for 45-60 minutes or so. 

We're trying to balance both, because at the same time, I do thing that people's attention spans are getting shorter and shorter.  It's hard to get people's attention for long enough to really listen to an entire record. We've been trying to think of ways to maybe have both.  We feel like the music video is really making a comeback these days.  That's a nice way to shorten up things.  People can watch it and hopefully like the song, then that might lead them towards wanting the rest of the record, or whatever else we put out.

Photo by Jim Dimitroff of Showlove Media

So, I guess to elaborate on that...the way music is released and delivered is a totally different things these days.  Album sales are nearly extinct, but you have the ability to get music in front of people easily and quickly.  How do you view the pros and cons of this concept as a touring musician?

Matt: Right.  It's definitely tough.  From a digital/online perspective, we like to keep it free. There's so much stuff out there, and we want to get the music out and in front of as many people as we can.  I was reading your interview with Justin (Hasting) from Zoogma, and he mentioned something about still having a bunch of extras CDs sitting around from previous releases.  We have that same thing.  You get these records pressed, and people just don't really buy CDs like they used to.  Some people do, but most people just go to Spotify and stream it from their phone.  

We've been talking about totally abandoning the concept of getting CDs pressed.  We've talked about records as well, and I feel like that's something still worth investing in.  We know that about 80% of people are listening to music on their phones, in the cars, or whatever.  It's an interesting climate we're in for sure. 

I'm sure that it's hard to justify spending that money sometimes.  You don't want to abandon the CD, because it's so much of what you've known, and it's a tangible object that is part of a collection.  That can be an easy expense to avoid though, especially when you see the market really trending in that direction.

Matt:  Definitely. People still like to have something to take home that connects them with the music.  So we're trying to come up with creative ways to still have something that people can tangibly get to connect them with the music, but we don't have to order 1,000 CDs that might end up sitting in our basement.  

Listen to Dank's 'Get Up' EP here:

Shifting a little more towards what's coming up this Fall, I know you guys are returning to CukoRakko in October.  The band is billed as "Dank and Friends" for this particular performance.  Can you elaborate on that?  Should fans expect anything different?

Matt:  Super, super excited about that.  I won't give too much away, but we're really good buddies with the Funk You guys.  Those are some of our good friends.  We saw that they were playing, and even though we knew some of our guys would be at a wedding that weekend we still wanted to be involved. So we started talking to Greg (Entrekin) and Jamie (Glass) about the idea, who are just awesome dudes that we've known from playing the festival a couple times in the past, and they were open to the idea.  Me and Jimmy (Bones) actually went up there this past spring, when we weren't even playing.  It's just that awesome of a place.  I try to tell everyone who has never been up there how cool it is, and it's hard to really put into words.  But yeah, we really wanted to be involved, and we talked to the Funk You guys, as well as some friends that have a horn section.  We put together a set of some really great, fun songs.  We'll be focusing on southern heritage...southeast United States.  Dank and friends is really what it is.  

Very cool.  I've been really intrigued as to what you guys have planned for that set, so I appreciate you giving a little insight on that.  That's going to make for a really fun set.

Matt: Definitely.  We saw that Mama's Love and Maradeen is on there now too.  We know all of those guys.  Backup Planet, too.  There is a really cool group of connected bands on the lineup this year.  We've definitely been reaching out to everyone.  Anyone that is going to be there that wants to join in on the party is more than welcome.  We're really looking forward to it.  Should be a really fun set with a lot of friends sitting in.

That type of situation always creates a really great energy.  That always translates over onto the stage.

Matt: Definitely.  Horse Pens 40 is just an incredible spot for music, so there is always a good energy there.  Any of the bands who have played there know that.  

How are things shaping up for the fall and winter?  What can we expect to see and hear from Dank in the coming months? 

Matt: You can check out CrankTheDank.com.  We've got all of our dates for the fall.  We'll be heading around the Carolinas, Alabama, Georgia.  All of the normal places that we go.  Mainly, on the horizon, I would say that new music is really what we're focusing on.  We just put out this EP, but we've been writing a ton, and we have a lot of new material.  We're excited about that, and we want to get to work on it as soon as possible.  

Official Website: Dank

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Photo by Christian Stewart


CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival Reveals Final Lineup For Fall Fest August 15, 2016 11:53

Photo by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

Share this post directly from our Facebook page and tag a friend for a chance to win two weekend passes to CukoRakko.  We will announce a winner via Facebook on Monday, August 22nd at 12:00 PM CST.

CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival is pleased to reveal it's phase three artist announcement and final artist lineup for the 2016 Fall Fest at Horse Pens 40 on October 6th - 9th.  The phase three artist announcement includes a very special reunion performance from Mama's Love (Athens, GA), Dank & Friends (Atlanta, GA), Winston Ramble (Birmingham, AL), Bird Dog Jubilee (Atlanta, GA), and Seeds? (Huntsville, AL).  A variety of single-day and weekend passes to the festival can be purchased by clicking here.  CukoRakko is a one-of-a-kind, family-friendly event located at one of the South's best kept secrets, Horse Pens 40.  Kids ages 10 and under are admitted for free.  Stay tuned for details on Live & Listen's official pre-party at Horse Pens 40 on Thursday, October 6th.  

CukoRakko's Fall Fest will be held at Horse Pens 40 in Steele, AL from Thursday, October 6th - Sunday, October 9th.  The lineup this fall will feature as diverse and exciting of a lineup as we have seen from the festival, including the likes of The Heavy Pets, Funk You, Col. Bruce Hampton & Madrid Express feat. Carter Herring, Backup PlanetWinston RambleDank & Friends, The Captain Midnight Band (x2), Maradeen, Mama's Love, The Stolen Faces, Jason Bailey Band, Boy Named Banjo, Royal & Toulouse, Bird Dog Jubilee, Seeds?and Harkestra's Grateful Gospel Jamboree.

Click Here: Purchase your CukoRakko tickets today!

In preparation for the October festivities, we have included video or audio footage from each of this year's performers below.  This lineup features a variety of amazing talent from across the Southeast, including many of the regions top up-and-coming acts.  Stay tuned for future coverage and exclusive content, including our annual interview series, "The Road To CukoRakko," which will be released in early October.

The Heavy Pets

"Dewpoint" - Live at The Georgia Theatre

"Keep Me Running" - Live at The Georgia Theatre

 Funk You

"Lets Dance" - Live at Terminal West

Col. Bruce Hampton & Madrid Express w/ Carter Herring

Entire set from Echo Mountain Studios

Backup Planet

Official music video for "The Road"

Winston Ramble

"Free State of Mind" - Live at Muscle Shoals Studio

Dank

Official music video for "Get Up"

The Captain Midnight Band

"Common Law Hussy"

Maradeen

Official Music Video - "She Treat Me Like a Real Man"

Mama's Love

Listen to "Catch a Feelin'" here:

Listen to "Wake Up Woes" here:

 The Stolen Faces (Grateful Dead Tribute)

Official Music Video - "U.S. Blues"

Boy Named Banjo

Listen to "Blue Hole Bridge" here:

Jason Bailey Band

"Adventures of Shannon Ceili"

Royal & Toulouse

Official music video - "One Direction"

Bird Dog Jubilee

Covering Twiddle's "Lost In The Cold"

Seeds?

Live at Lowe Mill in Huntsville, AL

Harkestra's Grateful Gospel Jamboree

Live from CukoRakko SpringFest 2015


CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival Reveals Phase 1 Lineup For FallFest July 08, 2016 16:30

CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival has revealed it's phase one artist announcement for this October's FallFest. The first phase includes The Heavy Pets, Funk You, Col. Bruce Hampton & The Madrid Express w/ Carter Herring, Backup Planet, and Jason Bailey Band.  Early bird ticket packages will go on sale on Tuesday, July 12th at 10:00 AM CST.  Stay tuned for future announcements and lineup additions.

That “magic feeling on the mountain” continues like nowhere else in the Southeast.  Held at the beautiful Horse Pens 40 in Steele, Alabama, this friends and family event features 3 days of music and mixed media arts. Enjoy yoga, rock climbing, glass blowing, blacksmithing, disc golf with a PDGA tourney, camping, hiking, kid’s activities, food and drinks, crafts and more.

CukoRakko is the Creek Indian word for ceremonial ground, stomp ground, big house and dance ground. This perfectly describes the phenomenal energy that can be felt at this historic outdoor nature park. Horse Pens 40 is a natural wonderland of unique rock formations nestled atop Chandler Mountain in the foothills of the Appalachians. Located on top of the third highest mountain in Alabama, the stone formations here are said to be among the oldest naturally exposed stones in the world, dating from 600 million to 1.3 billion years old. This sacred ground has a vivid history. Don’t miss this opportunity to visit this incredible natural amphitheater.

Click Here: Official Website - CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival

Watch McLovins perform at CukoRakko SpringFest in May of 2016 here:


The Road to CukoRakko: An Interview with Zach Deputy May 13, 2016 10:13

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Photo by ShowLove Media
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Our latest segment, "The Road to CukoRakko," consists of a series of interviews leading up to CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival this weekend at Horse Pens 40 in Steele, AL.  We recently caught up with Zach Deputy, one of the most entertaining nationally touring solo act's in the country.
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 Zach Deputy has made his mark thus far as a touring powerhouse. As a boy, the music of his Puerto Rican, Cruzan and Irish heritage was cooked up in the South Carolina heat. The Calypso rhythms and folk songs of St. Croix competed with the R&B / soul of pioneers like James Brown and Ray Charles for space on the family stereo. As Deputy honed his craft, a unique hybrid of these influences emerged, ultimately creating the signature Zach Deputy sound.
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To bring this sound to the stage, the big, impossibly upbeat South Carolinian with the infectious smile puts on a solo show– enhanced by looping technology– that is essentially a one man dance party offering up what he calls “Island-infused, Drum ‘n’ Bass, Gospel-Ninja-Soul” to the enthusiastic crowds of dancers who flock to clubs from coast-to-coast. It is these late night dance parties— more than 250 per year– that have made Zach Deputy one of the hottest up-and-coming performers on the camping festival circuit and “jam band” scene. For Zach, most days begin in a hotel room and end a couple of hours after walking off stage.
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Zach Deputy is set to play CukoRakko at 10:30PM on Friday night.
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Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
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The Zach Deputy live experience is like no other, with a truly unique energy and a whole lot of music coming from one guy.  What is your general approach toward the multi-instrument looping process?  Do you follow any general pattern when building each song?
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Zach:  I don't follow a pattern.  I think more times than not, I start the loop with my guitar, but that's not every time.  That's the closest thing to a pattern.  The cool thing about it is...usually I don't even write a setlist.  When I finish a song, I just go with whatever is in my head.  I don't ever say, "Oh, I'm gonna do the bass line second" or "I'm gonna do the drums next" or anything like that.  It's more about, "What am I hearing next?"  As I'm hearing things, I just put them in.  
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So I don't have a process.  I've never thought about a song and said, "The quickest way to do this would be to do this, this, that, and the other." I just kind of go for it, but I'm always listening to my internal song. For me, my whole goal as a musician is always to get the song that's in my heart out to the world.  So when I do looping, I do the same.  I just try to listen to what's on the inside, and externalize whatever that is on the outside.  That's pretty much my process.
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So you essentially let the song build itself...
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Zach:  Yeah, because it's always a little bit different.  I don't try to reach back to the past and develop some machine-like way of doing something again.  I always want to keep it fresh and ask myself how I am feeling about it today, and what am I hearing that would be best with this today.  You know?  That way it's always alive, and it's always changing.  It always makes me feel like it's real and living, instead of dead and machine-like.
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Watch Zach Deputy perform "Put it in the Boogie" in 2010 here:
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2016 has already shaped up to be a busy year. You have been known to play over 200 shows in year's past. How do you go about balancing out the touring w/ personal time?  Is that something that just develops throughout the year?
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Zach:  Oh yeah...we've already been back and forth between the West and East Coast twice this year.  We do have a forecast, and at the beginning of each year, I send in my black out dates.  I try and pick the most important days of the year which I don't plan to play, and I go ahead and black those out.  Then I try to make some rules where we will have a certain amount of days off when we are off.  I don't care about the work.  I always tell my agent that if I am on tour, I want to play six days a week, but I want my time off to be at home.  I don't want to be out touring and have three to four days off.  If I'm out there, I want to play music.  That's what I do.  That's what I love.  
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I try to work really hard so I can have a couple weeks at home here and there.  So I work really hard, and when I'm at home, I really just try to soak it all up.  You have to have a lot of "me time," you know?  I think the thing about being a musician is that we are all influenced, whether we like it or not, by the world and our surroundings.  You have to stay grounded and make sure that you separate yourself from the world constantly, in your own head.  
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For me, it's spending time with God.  I try to do that every day on tour.  I try to make time that's away from everybody.  When I'm at home, I try to just shut out.  If you ask any of my friends, when I am home and they try to hit me up, it might be two weeks later before they hear back from me.  I just shut everybody off, you know?  You have to create balance in your life.  
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No doubt about it.  The balance is what keeps you sane. 
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Z:  Exactly.  It keeps you sane.  It's kind of funny to me because I play music, and I play these festivals where I am around thousands of people.  But really, the reality of who I am...I just like to chill out.  When I'm on my own, I'm just relaxing, and I like peaceful things.  I can't remember the last time that I was "out" in my hometown, but that's just because I'm overstimulated all of the time, you know what I mean (laughs)?  So when I get home, I pretty much play disc golf, maybe go fishing, and things like that.  
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Just last month, you released an album with your three-piece band: Zach Deputy and The Hashtags. How long has this project been in the works? Was this your first full album working with a full band?
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Z: Well, most of my albums have been a mix of me and a full band.  This is the first album that has been entirely a full band, and I think we recording this album nine months to a year ago.  We recorded it in two days.  It's funny that it took this long to get the finished product.  The actual recording process...we were just becoming a band.  I was up in the Northeast, and like I said I don't really like to have a night off.  So I might have a Sunday night off, and we would end up playing a show as The Hashtags.  They would usually be secret shows.  
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So we decided to go to the studio to have a recorded practice.  We weren't even intending to make an album.  We started recording the songs mostly for practice purposes, then we were like, "Man, I really like this stuff.  Why don't we just push it out, you know?" So it was really the birth of us as a band.  Everything is coming together, and we're really vibing and enjoying each other so much.  Most bands never get to capture their "birth moment", but we did.  
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It was really an album that was never intended to happen, but it did.  It's all so raw.  I didn't overdub any of the lead vocals.  They were all done live.  Everything with the band was done live.  It's just this really raw album, and I really enjoyed it.  I love when things happen naturally instead of trying to force them, and that's what that album is all about.  
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Watch Zach Deputy's Live Funky Improv here:
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With the evolution of digital music, many artists seem to be headed towards recording 3-4 song EP's, rather than the typical full length album.  Do you see yourself doing anything differently in the studio moving forward?
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Zach:  Well, I'm releasing another album in about two and a half months.  It's going to be twelve tracks.  I recorded this one all on my own.  I did all of the instruments.  The way I think of it is that I record albums for me, and I hope everybody likes them, but I don't really recording albums thinking of how people are going to take them.  For me, it's a waste of time as an artist.  If you're really an artist, you're creating things that you love in hopes that other people will feel and understand what you love.  But if they don't get it, you don't change for other people.  You've gotta remain true to yourself.  
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I think a four song EP is great, if that's what you wanted. If you're a baby band, and you're just trying to get started, that's great.  If you're an artist and you're making music, then make music.  Release a single, 3 tracks, 4 tracks... just do it for the art and not the marketing. In the scheme of things, I believe in the 70's there were around 2,000 albums put out each year.  Now, there is something crazy like 200,000 albums put out each year.  We have this whole overstimulated thing, and everyone is trying to find their way and their niche into it. 
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For me, I'm not trying to find a niche into where I fit in with what's popular or what's going on, I just want to create art and let the art speak for itself. I want to make art that I love, and even if nothing ever happens, I still love what I do.  That's what art is. Art is a reflection of the soul.  So why would you be worried about other people?
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Over the years, disc golf has become a major part of your life.  You've even started your own festival, Zach Deputy's Disc Jam, down at Suwannee.  How often do you get a chance to play, and what makes this such a proactive hobby for you?
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Zach:  I love disc golf because it's an analogy to life, you know?  Stay on the path. Keep it simple. Keep it within your means. Stay relaxed. Believe in yourself. Everything that happens in golf happens in life, and it breeds a gentleman-like character, you know?  It's a really cool sport, and it's different than most sports.  You rarely play a sport amongst other people, and they're all supportive.  The cool thing about disc golf is that you're playing with a group of five and you're competing. But when you shoot a cool shot, everyone goes crazy.  
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Everyone is in it with each other. You meet the coolest people, and it's just a great analogy to life.  It gives me an excuse to go out hiking.  I'm like a typical guy.  We all like to go out and explore the countryside, but if I don't have a purpose, I'm not gonna go out there.  Disc golf gives me a reason to go explore the country.  I've seen pretty much every one of the main 48 states through the eyes of a disc golf course.  It's a beautiful thing, and every once in a while you throw an ace, and it's amazing (laughs).  
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The love for the sport just grows.  I've been playing for six years, and I probably play more now than I ever have.  I probably get out there four days a week, but when things are working good, I'm out there six days a week.  I love it.  It's a good hoppy.  It's a cheap hobby.  It's a great community.  It's a funny thing; playing from California to Maine and down to Florida.  You meet people out on the disc golf course, and they're always just genuine and nice.  It's a great community to be a part of.  You've gotta get out of the house.  Get away from the machines and get out there with nature. 
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We're coming up on CukoRakko, one of Alabama's young, growing music festivals.  Horse Pens 40 is often referred to as "the best secret in Alabama," with a vast amount of history and natural beauty.  Does this type of natural, outdoor setting have much influence on your set, as opposed to an indoor club gig?
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Zach:  Oh yeah.  There is an energy to everything, you know?  When you're in a club, there is an energy to it, but when you're outside, you feel alive.  There is no better stage than a stage outside with a backdrop of nature's beauty.  So for me, I always play my best sets outside.  I'm stoked about this one.
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CukoRakko will give you guys an opportunity to play in front of many music fans who might be seeing you for the first time.  How would you best describe what the crowd at Horse Pens can expect from you guys on Saturday night?
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Zach:  So, they'll start feeling this weird shaking, and they'll look down and see their legs shaking before they even realize it.  Then they'll start saying, "What is happening?!"  I will make people boogie who have never boogied before. That's pretty much what I can promise.  That's what I like to do.  My accomplishment every night is to get that one person who has been holding it in his entire life to let loose and dance.  That's my goal.  You gotta release and let it go.  Life is such a blessing. You gotta soak it in and live in the moment.  Music is a great way to remind people of all of the great things that we have.
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Watch Zach Deputy perform "Walkin' On The Moon" here:
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The Road to CukoRakko: Atticus Kelly of McLovins May 12, 2016 10:59

Our latest segment, "The Road to CukoRakko," consists of a series of interviews leading up to CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival this weekend at Horse Pens 40 in Steele, AL.  We recently caught up with Atticus Kelly (keyboards/vocals) of McLovins, one the most promising young bands touring the country.

Inspired by an eclectic mix of influences like The Meters, The Band and The Flaming Lips, members Jason Ott, Jake Huffman, Justin Berger, and Atticus Kelly combine their songwriting skills with extended improvisations and instrumental ingenuity. 

Taking a page from their jam band forefathers, McLovins always try to keep their audiences guessing at what’s to come. Their eclectic setlists and individual musical personas define the band’s live shows. Hailing from Hartford, Connecticut, McLovins have appeared at Gathering of The Vibes, Mountain Jam, The Peach Festival, and the legendary Nateva Music Festival, as well as many acclaimed venues across the country. They have also performed with some of the most influential artists on the scene, including Buddy Guy, George Porter, Jr., Robert Randolph, and Oteil Burbridge.  

Recently the band cut an album with Emmy, Grammy, and Tony award winning producer Bill Sherman in New York City’s East Village.  The album was released this October and the band is currently on tour. The band continues to evolve, bringing their distinctive, jam-rock productions across the country. Every tour brings a unique energy.

McLovins are set to play CukoRakko at 8:30 PM CST on Saturday night.

Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

While McLovins has been a nationally touring band for many years, the band's touring schedule has gone to another level since you guys finished college last year.  How has the vigorous touring helped shape this band over the past year?   

Atticus: The only way to create chemistry between musicians (musically and interpersonally) is to spend time together playing and hanging out. In 2015, we toured for six months out of the year. We have never sounded better than we do right now. I hope I can say that every year going forward as our tour schedule becomes more rigorous.

Click Here: Purchase Tickets to CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival 

The band released a 12-track self-titled album last October, making for the fifth full length McLovins album.  You obviously make a point to build on this material through improvisation with each show.  Are certain songs more structured for free range jamming than others? What is your general approach towards improvisation?

Atticus: Yes. The “free range” jamming is hard to pull off unless everything is just right, and we don’t have many songs where we do that. A good example would be “Shivers” from Beautiful Lights. There are two jam sections in that song: one short, and one slightly longer. In the second jam, shit gets real and you have to be creative and also improvise something that fits the tone of the song. It can be a challenge. The next closest example would be Birthday, where we are trying to create something evocative and nostalgic for Justin to play over. That one is always a little different. I think I speak for the band when I say I particularly enjoy the funk jams (D.M.T, Gold, Run Like Hell). Those always get the party started and the rhythm sections always locks right in. 

Watch McLovins perform "Buildin' It Up" at Toads Place in New Haven, CT here:

We're coming up on CukoRakko, one of Alabama's young, growing music festivals.  Horse Pens 40 is often referred to as "the best secret in Alabama," with a vast amount of history and natural beauty.  What does it mean to you guys to get back to Alabama and join the CukoRakko family?

Atticus: We’re always excited to break into a new market and meet new people, especially in a place like Alabama, where live music is such a focus for people. The scene there is alive with enthusiastic concertgoers who are willing to listen deeper. They’re the kind of fans that are in it for the long game, just like us, and are equally excited to see where this all goes. The south is one of our favorite places to play for this reason, and we are super pumped to be joining the family.

Click Here: Purchase Tickets to CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival 

CukoRakko will give you guys an opportunity to play in front of many music fans who might be seeing McLovins for the first time.  How would you best describe what the crowd at Horse Pens can expect from you guys on Saturday night?

Atticus: They can expect four dudes who spend WAY too much time together to play some funky, soulful music with great lyrics and tasteful jamming, as well as some playful rapport concerning out bassist, the fantastic Mr. Jason Ott.

 Watch an "Atticus Fact" with special guest Robert Randolph here:

 

Watch the "Jersey Shore Atticus Fact" here:

You have become a bit of a celebrity with the recent video features known as "Atticus Facts".  Definitely a creative way to let your fans know not only where McLovins are playing, but also learn something new about each city.  Where does this vast amount of knowledge come from? 

Atticus: Unfortunately, I am not as knowledgeable as I seem. Many of the facts are misinformation with a surrealist bent. If you watch from the beginning of the facts to the latest season, you will see that we have gone from stating a piece of misinformation (“Tonight we’re in Albany, the final resting place of John Wilkes Booth”) to all out insanity (the Jersey Shore fact). We’ve also made a point to include musicians that we’re performing with to add some flavor. Like the Robert Randolph fact that he absolutely crushed. Going forward things are going to get a lot weirder.

Click Here: Purchase Tickets to CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival 

The countless amount of miles on the road allows you guys to get to know each other like no one else can.  Is there anything you can share about each of your fellow band mates that people might not be aware of?

Atticus: Yes. They are all insane. But seriously, you learn a lot about each other (and yourself) when you spend this much time together. You learn about accountability in a group like this, and I’m just happy to have the chance to grow and do what I love with some of my best friends.

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The Road to CukoRakko: A.C. DeMoss of Mother Funk May 11, 2016 08:57

Our latest segment, "The Road to CukoRakko," consists of a series of interviews leading up to CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival this weekend at Horse Pens 40 in Steele, AL.  We recently caught up with A.C. DeMoss (guitar/vocals) of Mother Funk, one of Tuscaloosa's favorite young bands which has recently relocated to Nashville.

The four members of Mother Funk met in Tuscaloosa, AL and released their debut album, Coastal, in February 2014. After graduating college, they moved to Nashville, TN to continue writing & recording while still playing shows across the U.S. Mother Funk has been featured on the same bills as acts such as moe., Dispatch, Moon Taxi, The Revivalists, and Zoogma; playing venues such as Riverwalk Amphitheater, Costa Greekfest, Lake Martin Amphitheater.  

The band recently released a self-titled live album in April 2016 and has been traveling to many different cities the past few months including Athens, New Orleans, Sewannee, Nashville, & Atlanta. Mother Funk is scheduled to headline this year’s CukoRakko Music and Arts Festival on May 13th in Steele, AL. 

Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

Mother Funk has been going strong for six years now.  You have been able to reach audiences far beyond the initial Tuscaloosa market at this point.  How has the band's approach evolved since finishing school and entering "the real world"?  

A.C.: Once I graduated from college about a year ago, we parted from our former bass player, Davis Hudson, who’s now in San Fransisco. This led to each member taking on a lot more responsibility in regards to our sound. It's been a real eye opener for every band member’s talents. Since our music has become bigger than our initial college cover band days, it’s given us a great opportunity to grow up as a band. And there’s not a better place to do it than here in good ole Nashville, TN! 

Click Here: Purchase tickets to CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival

As Mother Funk  continues to grow and play to new markets, the opportunity to perform and build your following only increases.  How has the band's schedule shaped up thus far in 2016?    

A.C.: Our schedule has been perfect so far, man. We’ve taken some time off to really grow as musicians, honing our songwriting & recording craft, and all of us moving to Nashville has really helped shape what we want to be and sound like. We love to play live, but we realized that we need to get back to the basics and develop what we want to be, if we’re really going to do this ‘band’ thing. Not to say that playing in places like Athens, GA and other venues around the southeast haven’t been fun this year—let’s just say we’re stoked for what’s in store for the festival goers at Cuko. 

Listen to Mother Funk's self-titled live album here:  

Mother Funk began working on it's second full length album in Nashville last year.  How far along are you guys in the recording process?  Have you taken a different approach than that of your previous album, Coastal?  

A.C.: We’re proud of Coastal for what it is, ya know? We recorded it in three days. It was the first time we had ever stepped into a studio, and we learned a lot during that process. One thing we learned: three days in the studio is not the right approach. Mother Funk’s been on somewhat of a hiatus this past year to focus on what we want out of the band, and it has been very good for us. Each member brings a lot of creativity and ideas to the table, which is great for the Mother Funk/jam band sound. Now, we’re starting to take a ‘pocket rock’ approach to our new sound; recording demos as much as possible and working with some really talented people up here in Nashville. You can expect to hear some great work from the members of Mother Funk in the coming months.  

Click Here: Purchase tickets to CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival

Every band has their own unique way of putting together a setlist.  What does the process entail for you guys as you prepare for each show?  

A.C.: Back in the college days, we used to be the band that would play in the background, but now we’re putting a whole lot more thought into providing a show for the audience. We want their undivided attention on the band on stage rocking their face off, rather than the beer in their hand. When we put together our setlist, our intention is to make that show memorable to everyone listening. We want people walking out of the festival thinking “I have never seen a band like that before—where are they playing next?” 

Horse Pens 40 in Steele, AL :: Home of CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival

We're coming up on CukoRakko, one of Alabama's young, growing music festivals.  Horse Pens 40 is without a doubt one of the most amazing locations in the state.  What does it mean to you guys to join the CukoRakko family? 

A.C.: We are freaking pumped! Living up here in Tennessee, you can get homesick being away from the great state of Alabama for so long. We can already tell Cuko is an up and coming festival and are extremely excited to be part of it. 

Click Here: Purchase tickets to CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival

CukoRakko  will  give you guys an opportunity to play in front of many music fans who might be seeing Mother Funk for the first time.  How would you best describe what the crowd at Horse Pens can expect from you guys?  

A.C: We’re taking the same approach live as we are for our new material. Our new pocket rock sound has really hit home for us and the crowd over these past few shows. Since we’re kind of a ‘new’ band now, Cuko can expect a show that they’ve never heard before. Even the old Mother Funk fans will be surprised. 

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