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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


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:

 

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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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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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The Road to CukoRakko: Ryan Keef and Jason Guinn of Permagroove May 05, 2016 10:44

Our latest segment, "The Road to CukoRakko," consists of a series of interviews leading up to CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival next weekend at Horse Pens 40 in Steele, AL.  We recently caught up with Ryan Keef (guitar/vocals) and Jason Guinn (bass/vocals) of Permagroove, one of North Alabama's most promising up-and-coming bands.   

Recently described by Tim Reynolds (Dave Matthews Band/TR3) as, "...the Allman Brothers x10 on acid," Permagroove is one of the South's most electrifying up-and-coming live bands. Their sound is an eclectic genre-blend, built on tight grooves, top-notch songwriting, and spacious jams with plenty of molten-hot guitar solos and instantly memorable lyrics. Originally from Fort Payne, AL, the band is currently touring in support of their new EP, "Perfectly Broken Machine."

Permagroove is set to play CukoRakko at 6:30 PM on Saturday, May 14th.

Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

Permagroove is one of many up-and-coming bands to surface out of North Alabama  in recent years. When did you guys officially get  this thing rolling? Tell me about the band's early days.  

Ryan:  I believe we just had our one year anniversary. Jason called me last spring and told me that he'd just gotten Isaac, and asked me to come join. We had all played together in some form or another over the years, so there was already a good chemistry and foundation to build from. I think we had one rehearsal, and it just came together. And we're even friends too, believe it or not. That helps a tremendous amount, actually.  

Jason:  It officially started rolling the first time Chase (drums) and I played with Ryan and Isaac together. The core between Chase and I was solid, and we had the most dynamic guitar player we could ask for with Isaac, but the one-two combination with the twin guitars took it over the top for us. Chase and I still look at each other when we're playing like, "Damn, these guys are something else." Also, Ryan’s songwriting is phenomenal. I believe everyone in the band was a fan of Ryan well before we started playing together. 

Alabama's music scene seems to be constantly evolving.  With new venues surfacing nearly every year, the opportunity to perform and build your following only increases.  How has Permagroove's schedule shaped up thus far in 2016?   

Ryan:  This year is treating us pretty well so far. We've got a few festivals on the books, and we're breaking ground into new markets and more premier, noteworthy venues. It can be difficult with all of the new venues opening and closing, but we've made some great strides in that last six months. Doors are opening, and I'm excited to see where the journey takes us.  

Jason:  Our schedule has shaped up very nicely. We've not only have been invited back to CukoRakko, but also added Jam in the Ham in Birmingham and Riverbend Music Festival in Chattanooga. Hammering the markets in Huntsville, Mobile, Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, Chattanooga, and Auburn has started paying off. Our crowds keep growing everywhere we go and it's really exciting for us. We just recently added a run through Georgia in the fall, and we're also heading down to Florida in the Summer. We're always looking for new places to play where people love to hear live music. 

Click Here: Purchase tickets to CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival 

Permagroove recently released its latest studio work with the Perfectly Broken Machine EP.  Tell me a little bit about how this group of songs came together.  How was the recording process different than your previous work? 

Ryan:  With the exception of the Marley cover we put in there, these were all songs I had previously recorded under my own name. We reinvented and rearranged them in a very fitting way, which set them apart quite a bit. We tried to do most of it live in the studio, to capture the energy. But, there's also some overdubs in there. Overall, it's a pretty accurate representation of who we are as a band, and that's something you don't always get out of a studio recording.  

Jason: We are a live band. I know a lot of people say that, but we truly are. We recorded this album with no click tracks, we just laid it down. Ryan has an awesome collection of songs, and he allows us to put our spin on things. I think it comes across pretty well. We weren't originally going to record Could You Be Loved, but Dave Brandwein (from Turkuaz) gave us some encouragement, and I'm glad we did. I am really excited about not only about this recording, but the future ones we've yet to record. 

 Watch Permagroove perform "Fish Agree" at Zydeco in Birmingham here:

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

Ryan:  That depends mostly on the venue; different set times and all that jazz. Once in a while, one of us will write out the setlist early in the day and we'll all discuss any segues or different arrangements together. Usually we'll just rattle off three or four songs to start with and see where it takes us. We try to avoid dead air.  

Jason: "What do you wanna play?" is usually the question asked about five minutes before we play, and then everyone gives a roundabout. Then, two seconds before start it's "What are the first three songs?" and the rest usually just comes together somehow. 

Click Here: Purchase Tickets to 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 be back once again this Spring?

Ryan:  I have to say, Horse Pens 40 is gorgeous. We're really looking forward to being back. Jamie and Greg, and all the folks involved are all class-acts, and that makes things easy. We kicked off the fall festival last year, but we had to get to another gig that evening. Hopefully we'll be able to spend more time there this year. It doesn't hurt that it's close to home either.  

Jason: It means a lot to me. The community that CukoRakko has created is very family oriented and everybody involved are just top notch people. I know Jamie and Greg do not invite back a lot of repeat performers, so I feel very honored for us to get asked back for a second time. The Shultz family do a wonderful job preserving Horse Pens 40, and the scenery is second to none. CukoRakko has gained such a reputation that you don’t even have to look at the lineup to know that the music is going to be awesome every year. I am fired up, and I know the guys are excited to not only play, but be a part of the fellowship that takes place. 

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

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

Ryan:  Endless self indulgence. But no, really. What I love about playing with these guys is that it's always fresh. We can play the same song back to back and it's going to be different. We feed off of each other and the crowd, we listen, and we let the music take us where we're going.  

Jason: We're going to give you everything we’ve got for whatever length we are given. There are going to be parts of our playing that are completely spontaneous and off the cuff. You might hear some something one minute that is rooted in country with a blues twist, and the next some rocked out “mountain funk," but whatever it is it'll be us. 

Official Website: Permagroove

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