An Interview with Ham Wilson of The GateBand October 13, 2015 10:32

Ham Wilson (left) and Greg Pappas (right) of The GateBand

The Blueberry Jam Sessions will be held on Weeks Bay Plantation in Fairhope, Alabama on Sunday, October 18th and Sunday, November 22nd at 2:00PM.  On Sunday, October 18th, we are thrilled to welcome The Motet as our headlining act, as well as The Locust Fork BandNew Madrid, and The GateBand.  Both events will benefit the WISP Foundation, aimed at raising awareness for safe and organic farming.  We recently caught up with Ham Wilson (guitar/vocals), founding member of The GateBand, to gain a little insight on one of Alabama's longest standing bands.

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The GateBand was born in Montgomery, AL in the late 60's and truly took flight during your college years in Tuscaloosa.  When looking back on those days, what are a few memories which stand out the most?
Ham:  The GateBand started playing shows all over the Southeast in the early to mid-1970’s. We were playing 4-5 dates a week which really helps to tighten up the sound of a band. With early influences from soul singers (Otis Redding, James Brown, etc.) and British acts, the band progressed into the California sounds of Doug Sahm, Byrds (Gram Parsons) New Riders of the Purple Sage and of course the Grateful Dead. In the mid 1970’s after several visits to Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnics the band brought the Texas music scene back to Alabama with the sounds of Delbert McClinton, Asleep At the A Wheel, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Jerry Jeff Walker. We had a blast making new friends in every new venue.
Growing up in Alabama, I've consistently noticed the "G8" stickers in all kinds of places for many years.  What's the story behind the name: The GateBand?
Ham:  "Gate" was an expression we used as kids to express something positive, fun, and exciting. When the band was originally formed everyone called it Gate! We started using the G8 symbol when we released our studio CD in 1995. We have used the logo ever since. I suspect to the chagrin of the world powers.
This Sunday afternoon, The GateBand will kick off Baldwin County's newest outdoor music festival, the Blueberry Jam Sessions at 2:00 PM CST.  How much time has the band spent playing in Lower Alabama over the years?  What is it that makes that area so special?
Ham:  We spent many years playing and doing shows in South Alabama. Some our most enthusiastic friends and supporters are from Mobile and Baldwin County. We spent many nights playing at Thirsties in Mobile, Joe Cain Day, Pirates Cove, Ft. Whiting Armory, Leo Browns, Grand Hotel, Flora-Bama, and many high school and college fraternity parties. One of our original songs on the  “Both Sides” CD contains the line  “wish we were living in Perdido Bay”. Our time and friends in South Alabama definitely influenced that song. 
Another one of Alabama's longest standing bands, The Locust Fork Band, is also scheduled for Sunday's events.  I know the roots run deep between the two bands.  How often have you guys shared the stage, and what do you enjoy most about Locust Fork?
Ham:  The GateBand and Locust Fork have known each other for many years and all of us have remained close friends . We have played numerous shows together in Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Mobile, Montgomery, Auburn, and many other places. We have always attracted the same tight group of supporters. I think both bands complement each other musically. The fact that both bands are still together and doings shows is a true testament to their love of music and the support of their fan base. 
For those who will be seeing The GateBand for the first time on Sunday, how would you best describe what they can expect for the band's afternoon set?

Ham:  A GateBand show is all about the music and having fun. There are no gimmicks or tricks. Just excellent musicianship delivered with enthusiasm. A truly unique experience.

The Gate Band is scheduled to kick off the Blueberry Jam Sessions on Sunday afternoon at 2:00 PM CST.

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Blueberry Jam Sessions: Sunday 10/18: Weeks Bay Plantation: Fairhope, AL August 12, 2015 09:24

Live & Listen is pleased to announce the details and lineup for our latest series of events, The Blueberry Jam Sessions.  The Blueberry Jam Sessions will be held on Weeks Bay Plantation in Fairhope, Alabama on Sunday, October 18th and Sunday, November 22nd at 2:00PM.  On Sunday, October 18th, we are thrilled to welcome The Motet as our headlining act, as well as The Locust Fork Band, New Madrid, and The Gate Band.  Each session will feature four bands, offering a wide variety of musical talent while crossing into multiple genres, creating the feel of a one-day music festival.  Both events will benefit The WISP Foundation, aimed at raising awareness for safe and organic farming.

The Blueberry Jam Sessions will serve as our two initial events at Weeks Bay Plantation, with firm plans for a full weekend festival in 2016.  General admission and VIP tickets for both events will go on sale on Friday, August 21st and can be purchased right here at  Kids 12 and under will be admitted for free.

Weeks Bay Plantation is currently home to LA Berry Farms, a pick-your-own blueberry farm where you can come enjoy a rejuvenating outdoor experience while nabbing some amazing little-blue-fruit packed with anti-oxidants and touted as one of the top ten healthiest foods we can eat. Not only are the berries 100% organic, they are grown with proprietary high nutritional methods. The results?  Some of the sweetest, most delicious blueberries in the south.

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Our 1st Annual Oyster Roast kicks off at high noon, as a special food offering held lakeside in the Oak Hammock between 12:00 PM and 3:00 PM.  One of Alabama's finest chefs, Randall Baldwin, will fire up 300 dozen fresh oysters on a steamy, hot steel plate.  Oysters will be served on raised wooden skiffs for shuckers to enjoy cooked oysters the old fashioned way - all you can eat!  Music will be provided by the legendary singer/songwriter Gove Scrivener.  

Attendance to the Oyster Roast requires the additional purchase of a $20 ticket in advance or $25 during the week prior and day of the show.  VIP ticket holders can choose this as their food option at the event.  

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-The Motet-

Hailing from Colorado, The Motet is a world-class improvisational funk band that has dedicated more than a decade to the healing powers of funky dance music. Although the early years of the band saw a constantly revolving cast of musicians, the most recent incarnation has been touring the country for the last several years developing a new and unique style with roots in funk, afrobeat, disco, electronic music, and soul. This new Motet has quickly gained a reputation for throwing infectious dance parties everywhere they go, creating a deep rapport between band and audience.  

All bands have their influences, and the Motet is no different. The band has a long-standing tradition of putting on a musical costume each Halloween, playing consistently sold-out shows along the front range of Colorado while performing the music of groups like Earth Wind and Fire, Parliament Funkadelic, Tower of Power, and Jamiroquai. The careful study of these bands has had an undeniable effect on the creative direction of the Motet. As bandleader and drummer Dave Watts told the Boulder Weekly, "We realized how effective a great song is on a crowd. Instead of just the energetics we're used to bringing with improvising, soloing, and extended arrangements, we really decided to focus on tunes, because we understand how powerful a great song is."

A great song needs a great band to play it, and the Motet proves to be more than adequate in that regard. In addition to Watts, Joey Porter (keys), Garrett Sayers (bass) and Ryan Jalbert (guitar) form a core rhythm section that has been playing together for nearly a decade. This time together has led to their characteristic deep rhythmic pocket, and has created the musical bonds that allow them to take their collective improvisation to heights bordering on precognition. The Motet horns consist of Matt Pitts (sax) and Gabriel Mervine (trumpet). Although deeply rooted in jazz, their time with the Motet has made them into one of the funkiest horn sections on the scene. Front man Jans Ingber rounds out the lineup with his soulful singing, welcoming stage presence, and "Soul Train" dance moves which inspire concert goers to boogie like no one is watching.

These seven musicians form what is undoubtedly the strongest, most cohesive incarnation of the Motet to date. Whether you've loved the Motet for years or you're just tuning in, listen up. You haven't heard the Motet like this, and you won't be disappointed.

Dave Watts (drums)
Joey Porter (keys)
Garrett Sayers (bass)
Ryan Jalbert (guitar)
Gabe Mervine (trumpet)
Matt Pitts (tenor sax)
Jans Ingber (vocalist & percussion)

-Locust Fork Band-


The Locust Fork Band formed in 1974 based out of Tuscaloosa, Alabama playing Southern Rock, Rhythm and Blues, and Western Swing music.  After 40 years, the band is still playing with original members Bill Marshall and Kent Peterson on guitars, Dwight Williams on bass, Rick Byrd on pedal steel and vocalist, Nida Threet.  The popularity of the band is still strong perhaps due as much to the combined talents of this group of musicians as the desire of their fans to recapture their youth in the memories of the songs.  The level of entertainment is always superb and greatly appreciated by the loyal fans of these veterans of honky-tonkin’ blues.  


-New Madrid-

From the southern wilds of Athens, GA comes young four-piece, New Madrid. Their music is a dynamic mixture of underwater-psych-rock that engages the listener in fully textured aural landscapes, both on record and live. Their acclaimed 2012 independent debut, Yardboat - engineered by David Barbe (Deerhunter, Drive-By Truckers) at Chase Park Transduction- displayed the band's inherent talents and introduces a distinctive sound budding with sonic energy. In their ever-thriving music- mecca hometown, Yardboat garnered "Album of the Year," and the band's formula of constant touring and creative restlessness earned them "Artist of the Year" at the Flagpole Music Awards. In the summer of 2013, New Madrid signed to local start-up Normaltown Records, and entered the studio to record what would become Sunswimmer. Their second full-length finds New Madrid further exploring depths of psychedelia and textured noise.

The new record presents a New Madrid audibly settled into itself. Focused into a collection of collaborative songs, the band delves into a more experimental soundscape. Recorded solely on analog tape during a cool, wet July – once again under the direction of David Barbe - Sunswimmertelegraphs a newly confident self-knowledge, from the assertive opening riff of the churning “Manners” to the infectious driving beat behind “Forest Gum.” The tracks here are more concentrated than Yardboat’s offerings, but fans of New Madrid’s expansive tendencies will be sated by the record’s final 25 minutes, which are characterized by two linear compositions (“Homesick” and “And She Smiles”).

The album's body of music was conceived as a singular piece and is best consumed that way. In a digital age, when song snippets skip cross-country on the backs of  broadband, Sunswimmer is a testament that making music for shared space still remains. With their sophomore album, New Madrid continues to redefine.

-The Gate Band- 

The Gate Band, formed in Montgomery in the mid 60's, has been a staple in the Alabama music scene ever since. They were influenced early on by singing cowboys, Hank Williams, Everly Brothers, The Beatles, The Grateful Dead, and the British Invasion. A heavy influence of Texas music was acquired once introduced to Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Doug Sahm, and Delbert McClinton. During the summer of 1974 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, The Gate Band began playing 4 to 5 nights a week for several years.  The band quit touring in the early 1980s on a regular basis, but has continued to play several special events throughout the year ever since.

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