An Evening with Ghost Light: Presented by Hog Days of Summer February 21, 2020 15:45

Words by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
Photos by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography
Live & Listen and Druids Charity Club, the local non-profit responsible for Hog Days of Summer, are joining forces to bring nationally acclaimed rock group Ghost Light to Montgomery's Capri Theatre on Wednesday, March 25th. Click here to purchase tickets!
Back in the fall of 2016, we learned of another group of like-minded individuals who had a vision for a new, unique music festival in Montgomery. Since we launched Live & Listen in 2014, finding a way to bring the community together through music, while making a positive impact for those who need it most, has been a major focus. Upon further conversation, we knew that the guys behind Druids Charity Club were onto something special. 
Druids Charity Club has since established one of Montgomery's most highly anticipated annual events: Hog Days of Summer. "Hog Days" is a BBQ & music celebration raising money for Hogs For The Cause, a long-standing annual music and BBQ festival in New Orleans, LA which provides grants to families facing pediatric cancer. Going into it's 4th year, Hog Days aims to be an end of Summer celeration that brings Montgomerians together in a family-friendly atmosphere to enjoy great food and Americana music. Americana-style music incorporates elements of various American styles of music, including Rock & Roll, Country, Blues, Folk, and Bluegrass to form a roots oriented sound.
After three years, 'Hog Days' has quickly become one of Montgomery's favorite events. The event has seen it's attendance, partnerships, and fundraising grow significantly each year. The 2020 Hog Days of Summer will be held on August 22nd. Druids Charity Club will once again partner with several of the South's best BBQ curators to put on a festival experience in downtown Montgomery that will run from the early afternoon into the evening.

We could not be more pleased to partner with Druids Charity Club for an amazing night of live music at Montgomery's Capri Theatre on Wednesday, March 25th. One of the hottest up and coming acts in the country, Ghost Light, will make their first ever stop in the capitol city. Led by guitarist Tom Hamilton (of Joe Russo's Almost Dead), the band also featured famed pianist Holly Bowling, drummer Scotty Zwang (formerly of Dopapod), guitarist Raina Mullen (formerly of Tom Hamilton's American Babies), and bassist Dan Africano. They will be fresh off a major national tour with Greensky Bluegrass, which saw the band play in many of America's most prestigious venues.

Earlier this week, Ghost Light released HD, multi-cam footage from their recent performance at Thunderbird Music Hall in Pittsburgh, PA. Check out the complete footage below and make sure to RSVP to the official Facebook event for their upcoming show in Montgomery. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by clicking here.

We recently caught up with two of the founding members of Druids Charity Club, Inge Hill and John Sullivan, who gave us a little more insight on their overall vision for the non-profit efforts and Hog Days of Summer:

"We have diverse musical tastes, but it is our opinion that nothing pairs with BBQ quite like blues and authentic country music, and all of their respective blends and offshoots. With that basic idea in mind, we strive to bring in a first class, family-friendly bill which loosely spans ‘Americana’ and roots influences such as blues, country, folk, bluegrass, and rock & roll.

So much of the popular music we hear on the radio today can be traced back to southern backroads and porches; we feel fortunate to be playing our small part in keeping these musical traditions alive in our community. Community has always been an integral component in both BBQ and this style of music, and therefore, our event. Our focus on the family is why we think the train shed is the best venue around for a multi-generational celebration such as Hog Days. It warms our heart to see kids dancing up front to the same music that is moving their parents. A statue of Hank Williams stands guard outside our venue, so that is a high standard and a long shadow which we try to respect."

- Inge Hill: Druids Charity Club

"We are a 501(c)3 non-profit organization made up exclusively of volunteers. We give all of the profits from this event to Hogs for the Cause, a charitable organization which provides financial grants to children with cancer. Often overlooked in the spectrum of cancer treatment is the financial strain placed on a family when their child is diagnosed. Parents are forced to miss work for various reasons, whether it be to sit with their child during treatments or care for them when they are struggling with the side effects of chemotherapy. Many parents lose significant wages or even their jobs in this process. They often get behind on their mortgage, struggle to pay for utilities, or simply cannot afford to drive to Birmingham for their treatments. Our efforts lessen this burden." 

John Sullivan: Druids Charity Club 

Hog Days of Summer Will Feature North Mississippi Allstars & More May 23, 2019 10:11

Design by Yellow Hammer Creative

Press Release via Druids Charlity Club

Headlining the 3rd Annual Hog Days of Summer, Druids Charity Club pleased to introduce a band that probably needs no introduction around these parts: North Mississippi Allstars. A mainstay on the southern circuit and beyond for more than two decades, this marks their first return to Montgomery, AL since 2001.

The core of North Mississippi Allstars (NMAS) are brothers Cody (drums, piano, synth bass, programming and vocals) and Luther (guitar and vocals) Dickinson; today they are joined by bassist Carl Dufresne. Founded in 1996, the venerable NMAS embody the longstanding blues tradition of multigenerational music craftsmanship, in their case having learned the magic from their father, the highly regarded Memphis-based musician and producer Jim Dickinson, and their community at large. "We have always identified with other second and third generation artists," says Cody and to be sure North Mississippi Allstars have long allied with the families of Hill Country icons like R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough via countless barbeques, tours, collaborations, and good old-fashioned parties.

All of this is to say: this music wasn’t learned- it’s in their blood. Originating in the eponymously-named region in northern Mississippi, the Hill Country Blues sound is distinct from perhaps the more well-known product coming out of the neighboring Delta. Fueled by corn liquor and incubated in heat, it’s punctuated by a focus on percussion, relentless groove, and an underlining rhythmic trance delivered via humming electric guitar. Influential artists such as the electric guitar trendsetting ‘Mississippi’ Fred McDowell, the punchy and groovy R.L. Burnside, and the uber-hypnotic Kimbrough, all demonstrate the key ingredients of this foot-stomping blues sound through their own distinct styles.

It is true that NMAS is deeply steeped in American blues and roots tradition, but they have been increasingly exploring more modern electronic and programming influences, particularly on their last two records. As ever, their latest album, Prayer for Peace, sees the Allstars putting their indelible stamp on classic blues numbers and folk traditionals, including McDowell's classics "61 Highway" and "You Got To Move," while also further delving into some more modern takes such as the electronica they injected into R.L.’s “Long Haired Doney.”

"I think it's our responsibility to the community that brought us up to protect the repertoire," Luther says. "To keep the repertoire alive and vibrant. That's what folk music is about. It's an oral history of America. My dad and his friends, they learned from Furry Lewis and Gus Cannon and Will Shade and then taught those songs to us. It's important for us to write songs and experiment and do other things, but playing our community's music in a modern way is what Cody and I do best. I think it's what we were meant to do." True as always to the blues tradition, North Mississippi Allstars use the basic structures taught to them as the starting point for improvisation and contemporary interpretation, jumping off points for exploration.

Looking at life beyond completion of Prayer for Peace, Luther says: "Now it's time to hit the road. Get to work and spread the word. We recorded this one in the spirit of our twentieth anniversary. Now we're looking towards our twenty-fifth. Twenty years is alright but twenty-five is monumental." Cody shared a similar forward-looking sentiment "This is a new beginning for North Mississippi Allstars. This revitalizing cascade of creativity and explosion of music, it's just been incredible. And I feel like we're just getting started. There's a long beautiful road ahead of us. We're only just now hitting our stride." This set will truly be a special treat, both to the casual blues/roots/Americana music lover; and to those of us who have been watching this dynamic act flourish the past couple of decades.

Watch North Mississippi Allstars perform "Rollin 'n Tumblin" here:

Dale Watson and His Lone Stars

- Austin, Texas - 

Dale Watson, keeper of the true country music flame, carries on in the tradition of many before him, yet his sound is all his own. The Alabama-born, Texas-raised Watson is one of the hardest working (and colorful!) entertainers today and is rapidly approaching legendary status. He is a member of the Austin Music Hall of Fame, a country music maverick,  and a true outlaw who stands alongside Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and George Strait as one of the finest country singers and songwriters out of the Lone Star State. Dale and his ace touring band, “His Lone Stars” are on an exalted list of acts today consistently playing ‘real’ country both live and in the studio.

Unhappy with existing labels, he created the term “Ameripolitan” to distinguish his brand of American roots music from the more pop-oriented sound coming out of Nashville. This style combines a unique blend of western swinghonky-tonkrockabilly and outlaw country into the sound that you hear today. Dubbed "the silver pompadoured, baritone beltin', Lone Star beer drinkin', honky-tonk hellraiser" by The Austin Chronicle, Watson has shined on the late-night circuit (Jimmy Kimmel, David Letterman), performed on NPR, and logged numerous performances on Austin City Limits. A veteran touring artist and consummate entertainer, he is on the road more than 300 days a year and has released somewhere north of 30 albums (we lost count).

His musical journey began right out of high school as he started playing clubs and local honky-tonks around Texas. In 1988, it led him to move to Los Angeles. He played in the house band at the legendary Palomino Club in Hollywood for a couple years and recorded some singles before moving to Nashville to write songs for a publishing company. Commercial country did not fit the fiercely independent songwriter, so Dale relocated to Austin, Texas where he got a record deal and began to really find himself as a songwriter and performer. His life has taken more twists and turns than the Rio Grande since then, and he rumbles into the shed today - firing on all cylinders - ready to sweep everything in his path along a journey into the very essence of good-time country music.

 Watch Dale Watson perform "I Die When I Drink" here:

Will Stewart

- Birmingham, Alabama (via Montgomery) -

Originally hailing from Montgomery, Stewart now calls Birmingham home. He'd been away from Alabama for a few years, living in Nashville while earning his stripes as a songwriter, frontman, and lead guitarist. He gained valuable perspective while away, but still, something kept drawing him down South. He'd grown up here, surrounded by the twang of classic country music and the stomp of rootsy rock & roll. Alabama was a complicated place, its history filled with dark characters and cultural clashes, but it was oddly compelling, too. It was home. Unable to resist the pull, Stewart returned to Birmingham. There, after a decade away, he rediscovered his muse: the Modern South, whose characters, complexities, open spaces, and strange beauty are all channeled into Stewart's full-length solo debut, County Seat, a guitar-fueled Americana record, caught somewhere between the worlds of country and electrified rock.

Stewart adds his own perspective to eternal themes of Life, whether it be the musings of a lonely man in his twilight years, the longing for the wonder and innocence of young boundless adulthood, or the realization and acceptance of one’s nebulous existence while confronting and coping with one’s own vices. Sure, there is a passionate yearning in his music, as he explores the mysteries and murkiness of the 21st century South, but an undercurrent of hope is always flowing beneath the surface, punctuated by familiar electrified crescendos and timeless pedal steel guitar righteousness. When Stewart is on stage you’ll perhaps feel the presence of an old friend who’s been away for a while…perhaps there’s something different in the air you can’t explain, but the feeling just feels like…home.

Watch Will Stewart's music video for "Sipsey" here:

Click Here: Purchase Tickets Today!

BBQ Creators:

Moe’s Original Bar B Que

Dreamland Bar-B-Que

Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q

Full Moon Bar-B-Que

James Beard Award winning chef Ryan Prewitt (Peche; New Orleans)

Druids BBQ

Mojo Hand BBQ

Montgomery's Inaugural 'Fall Equinox Festival' A Huge Success October 4, 2017 10:49

Words by Inge Hill: Druids Charity Club

The 1st annual Fall Equinox Festival put on by the Montgomery based Druids Charity Club was a great success, both in terms of money raised for a great cause and smiles created. Set in Montgomery’s iconic Union Station Train Shed on Sunday, September 23rd, the event pulled in more than $70,000 through a combination of generous donations from sponsors and day of event sales. The occasion of the day was a benefit for Hogs for the Cause, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit supporting families afflicted with pediatric brain cancer. As a result of the event, grants have already been going out to local families in need.

As advertised, the event proved to be a family-centric affair with wide appeal across generations. Kids (and some adults) in pig noses could be heard squealing in delight in the ‘Pig Pen’ while they played in the two bouncy houses, ate cotton candy, had their faces painted, and participated in various arts and crafts adventures. For the sports inclined, the Alabama and Auburn games were each broadcast on an enormous LED TV setup. No one left the event hungry as the BBQ was both plentiful and delicious. Moe's Original BBQ served up Alabama style dishes; their pork ribs were a solid fan favorite. Druids BBQ focused on Texas Hill Country (beef brisket and sausage) while Mojo Hand focused on Carolina style ‘Q (pulled pork with mustard sauce). Taken as a whole, Montgomery was treated to a remarkably rounded BBQ review of some of the more distinctive styles that can be found in America.

The music was phenomenal and true to its advertising of a diverse bill spanning Blues and Americana  influences. Family Reunion Trio, consisting of Montgomery mainstays, William Barnes, Dave P. Moore, & John Mark Turner, got things going in the shed with a classy sit down acoustic affair. Moore treated the crowd to soulful vocals across a wide range of blues and roots music standards, while Barnes and Turner accompanied with mandolin and guitars. It was a fine collaboration for a group of musicians who have meant so much to the Montgomery music scene through the years.

After a 30 minute rain delay that made things interesting for a spell, Anthony ‘Big A’ Sherrod and the Allstars hit the stage with a foot stomping set of electronic Mississippi Delta blues. The quartet out of Clarksdale, MS came dressed for the occasion and determined to bring a little bit of that Delta sound to Montgomery. Big A demonstrated that he is a performer in every sense of the word, often interacting with the crowd between blues numbers which were usually punctuated with shredding guitar solos.

Last but not least, The Band of Heathens out of Austin took to the stage to take the bill to a more Americana realm. As a testament to their varied influences, many of their tunes (almost exclusively originals) had a familiar feeling even to first time listeners in the shed. Gordy Quist and Ed Jurdi displayed their vocal range throughout while the crowd was treated to numerous fan favorites and treats from their new album, Duende. While this band of musicians can jam with the best of them (“Look at Miss Ohio”, “Daddy Longlegs,” and the jam out of “Hurricane” come to mind) the band trended towards a disciplined structure underlined by an approachable down-home style. Together, diverse in influences yet similar in spirit, the three bands created a five hour musical jigsaw puzzle that came together piece by piece as the event unfolded. May their roads go on forever.

The Druids are pleased with the result of year #1 of the Fall Equinox Festival and look forward to building on that success heading into next year. A healthy amount of money was raised for local families and a good time was had by all doing it. The Druids would like to thank their countless volunteers and corporate sponsors whose generosity made everything possible. We would also like to thank Live and Listen for their support and promotion. As life goes, the last few years have not been short on challenges - all the more reason to find time to light those fires, plug in those guitars, put on those dancing shoes, and remember that life on this world is precious.