The Road to CukoRakko: The Brook & The Bluff October 01, 2018 23:46

 

If you're a music lover in Alabama, you've more than likely heard about an amazing grassroots festival known as CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival. Founded in 2014, the festival has been held twice a year at Horse Pens 40 in Steele, AL. As we prepare for another unforgettable CukoRakko weekend on October 5th - 7th, we're sitting down and getting to know a few of the performers on the 2018 Fall Festival lineup. For our fourth installment, we sat down with John Canada (drums) and Joseph Settine (vocals / keys / guitar) of The Brook & The Bluff, a Birmingham-based band who is catching major national attention. You can catch these guys kicking things off on Sunday, October 7th. See below for the full interview, as well as video footage of the band performing their tune "Are You Lonesome?"
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So you guys originally started as a duo and expanded to a four-piece in 2016. Let's talk about how that evolvement took place. 
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John: For sure. The Brook & The Bluff started as an acoustic duo between Joseph Settine and Alec Bolton towards the end of their time at Auburn University. The two had previously played in a full band called “The Freewheelers” while attending school. When that band eventually disbanded, Alec and Joseph decided to keep making music together as a duo. 
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In the fall of 2015, I noticed the talent and potential of the guys during a gig at Moe’s BBQ in Auburn. Shortly after, I offered to turn the duo into a trio and play drums. By early 2016, the trio had resolved to start recording original music and make a serious attempt at a music career. After playing with couple different bassists for about a year, Fred Lankford joined the crew in mid-2017. 
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The band has had some amazing success since then. Charting on Spotify US & Canada's Viral 50 playlist, performing at NAMM shows in Nashville and Anaheim, and selling out shows in the Southeast's biggest markets. Where do you credit this success?
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John: We have definitely experienced some encouraging successes over the past couple of years! I think it comes from a combination of an energetic live show, genuine songwriting and the necessary discipline to work on the band every day. Starting out on your own, we had to figure out how to do a lot of things, like booking shows, recording music and effectively promoting the band. I think we did a pretty good job of that!
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The band recently signed on with one of the premier booking agencies in the country, Paradigm Talent Agency. What type of impact has this made on you guys?
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Joseph: Signing with Paradigm has been a huge benefit and we are already seeing the impact that our agents, Joe Atamian and Jeffrey Hasson, are having on our career. For one, it gives us more time to focus on making music now that we don’t have to book shows ourselves. With Paradigm, there are so many more opportunities for us, like opening for bigger bands and securing festival slots that we never could have booked on our own. Joe and Jeffrey are experts at overall strategy and get the most out of our live shows. 
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We're living in a much different musical era. Things have changed quite a bit since we were kids. Tell me about the advantages and challenges this presents to a young, up-and-coming act.
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John: Nowadays, anybody can record a song, put it out in the world and see what happens. The barrier to entry of being an artist is super low, but that presents the challenge of having much more content to “compete” with. One platform that has worked to our big advantage is Spotify. This music streaming service makes discovering new music extremely easy for listeners. In a way, they have given the power back to the people to determine what music becomes popular. Much of Spotify’s listening experience is algorithm based and we have been lucky to have songs featured on many algorithmic playlists. 
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What's on the horizon for the band as you look towards closing out 2018?
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Joseph: We are currently recording our first full length album, so we’ll be spending a good amount of time in the studio. We also have some exciting live dates as we wrap up the year (e.g. a headlining show at Saturn on November 21st). In early 2019, we are going on an extended tour up the east coast and will be releasing new music simultaneously, so we are extremely pumped for that.  
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You'll be kicking off the day on Sunday, October 7th at CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival. What can attendees expect from you guys? 
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Joseph: If people are still asleep at 11:30am, we’ll be sure to get them out of their tents. Our shows are super energetic and people can expect a lot of singing from the four of us. We’ll be pulling out some covers by Fleetwood Mac and SZA in addition to our original tunes. 
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Watch Brook & The Bluff perform "Are You Lonesome?" here:
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