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Who Is King Baby? Here's Everything Kevin Scott Told Us December 1, 2021 13:25

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Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
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The time has finally come, and Atlanta-born four-piece King Baby has reunited for a brief run through the southeast over the next week. Many music fans in the Southeast will remember the formation of this band roughly seven years ago. The lineup features Matt Slocum (Railroad Earth, Jimmy Herring, Aquarium Rescue Unit) on keys, Kevin Scott (Jimmy Herring, FORQ, Wednesday Night Titans) on bass, Rick Lollar (Jimmy Herring, Jamison Ross) on guitar and vocals, and Mark Raudabaugh (Donna The Buffalo, Sierra Hull) on drums. We recently caught up with Kevin to learn more about this project and their upcoming run of shows. Check out the full conversation below, and head over to the band's official Facebook page for more information!
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Let's start with the basics. Who is King Baby? How and when did you guys get the band started?
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Kevin: King Baby technically started in 2014. Basically, Rick (Lollar) booked a gig with me and Mark (Raudabaugh) at Smith's Olde Bar in Atlanta. We were basically playing all of Rick's original music from his latest album at the time. Soon after that, we started playing as a trio at Elliot Street Pub in Atlanta, and King Baby was born. We started booking Matt (Slocum) as the fourth member whenever he was available, but Matt was also touring with Aquarium Rescue Unit, Jimmy Herring, Magpie Salute, and who knows what else at the time.
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We had this chemistry that was undeniable as a four piece. It was just a different vibe once we brought in keys. Matt made everything that much more cohesive. We started gigged more as a four-piece, and then Matt calls us and asks if we wanted to play the first-ever Jazz & Blues Festival in Dhaka, Bangladesh. We actually headlined on Saturday night, and we really consider that to be the first official King Baby show. 
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You guys released your first full-length album, The Big Galoot, back in March of 2017. Tell me about this material and how it all came together. 
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Kevin: After the Bangladesh gig, Matt linked us up with Abstract Logix, which is one of the top instrumental/fusion labels in the world. Everyone agreed that this band had some serious potential, and we needed to get an album recorded as soon as possible. We booked studio time at Diamond Street Studios in Atlanta. We all brought in different ideas. For example, Matt had a tune called "Matt's Funk" that had never been recorded. That ultimately became "Dhaka Strut" on the record. Everyone basically brought in sketches, and we spent that time in studio filling those in and creating an album's worth of material. 
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I know y'all are excited to finally get some dates back on the calendar. This run of shows includes stops in New Orleans, Mobile, Birmingham, and Roswell. How long has it been since King Baby's last run? 
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Kevin: I think it's been since 2017 or 2018. We did about a nine-day run up to the northeast with Oz Noy opening. Back in 2016, we played Candler Park Music Festival alongside Chris Robinson Brotherhood. It's definitely been too long, and we're very excited about getting the band back together this week. 
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Watch King Baby's music video for "King Junior" here:
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You guys are obviously involved in a a bunch of different projects. Has there been much talk about trying to do more dates in 2022?
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Kevin: Absolutely. We're hoping to record our next album as well. We've got to find the right time to make it all happen. Matt's currently touring with Railroad Earth. I'm staying busy with FORQ and my latest project: Wednesday Night Titans. Mark is out on the road with an amazing artist named Sierra Hull. Rick has been staying busy with Jamison Ross, who is an incredible Grammy-nominated drummer from Snarky Puppy. 
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For those catching their first King Baby show(s) on this run, what would you say that they can expect? How would you best describe what this band brings to the stage?
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Kevin: I think the King Baby sound is an accumulation of rock-based funk. Everything coming out of Atlanta is an extension of the legacy of Col. Bruce Hampton, as far as we're concerned. That's definitely true for King Baby. Bruce taught us to always have one foot in tradition, but also to destroy tradition and do your own thing. I feel like that definitely applies with every bit of music you hear from this band. All of our originals are vehicles for improvisation, so anything can happen. We've got a mixed bag of covers that we make our own. Rick's vocal prowess certainly adds a nice soulful punch, as well. 
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For those familiar with the King Baby catalog, can we expect any new originals or covers mixed in to the upcoming set lists?
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Kevin: Absolutely. We're going to have roughly 40 songs in the bag. There's a whole new list of covers that we plan to incorporate. Those who have seen King Baby before will have plenty of surprises in store. 
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What's the overall outlook for the future of King Baby moving forward?
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Kevin: We're going to do a multi-track live recording of our show at From The Earth Brewing in Roswell on Monday, December 6th. That will ultimately make its way onto all of your major streaming platforms. Hopefully a vinyl release, as well. The plan is to also get back in the studio this spring to record a brand new album. We're hoping to do more touring and definitely some festival appearances next year as well. 
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Looking Back on Hulaween: A Weekend in Review November 14, 2021 15:42

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Photos + Words by Isom Morgan [Isom Morgan Photography]

This year's Hulaween, nestled in the woods in northern Florida at Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, was another one for the books. After a year hiatus due to the pandemic, Hulaween came back with a mighty roar. With headliners like The String Cheese Incident, Skrillex, Khruangbin, My Morning Jacket, Zed's Dead, and Umphrey’s McGee, there was no doubt this year would be special.  After four days engrossed in the music and scene, I am here to tell you that my experience there was beyond magical.

Patrons from far and wide were ready to kick things off Thursday, October 28th.  Many festival goers arrived the previous day so they would be properly set up for the four days of nonstop music, arts, and quality time with the Hula community. Four out of five stages were active on Day 1. Musical artists such as Kyle Hollingworth Band, Greensky Bluegrass, and Umphrey’s McGee helped warm up the Ampitheatre Stage. While the Deadbeats took over the Hallows Stage and had it moving and grooving all day long. Break Science, Sunsquabi, and Lotus brought their jamtronica style to the Spirit Lake Stage. The Campground Stage, which sat right on the edge of the luminated lake, pumped out soothing sounds to those close enough admiring the numerous art installations in the vicinity.

Spirit Lake pulsated with vibrant colors, good vibes, and constant beats bouncing through the trees wrapped in spanish moss. The lake, illuminating with holographic designs, proved to be another epic backdrop for all the hustle and bustle taking place on the festival grounds. There is always something new to experience around Spirit Lake. If you were feeling lucky, you could stop by the casino and wager some of your possessions. You could also walk by the complimentary bar and hear some random inspiring words from a stranger who wants nothing more than to make you smile.

Go sit on the see saw, while bursts of fire shoots out of the mouth of a metal sculpted rooster. Wonder through the mural maze, where you could get lost staring at amazing artwork; showcased the talent of the numerous artists on site. Or go see impromptu sets by djs at the mobile Fire Stage incendia. One collaboration by Chris Lake, Skrillex, and Bonobo was by far one of the biggest surprises of the weekend.

 

On day two, I hope everyone had their dancing shoes tied tight, because Daily Bread started off the Amphitheatre Stage with a set full of melodic funky soulful sounds. Throughout the day, fans were treated with performances from Dumpstaphunk, The Floozies, The String Cheese Incident, and The Magic City Hippies, to name a few. Taking us into the evening was Tank and The Bangas on the Hallows Stage, Manic Focus Live Band at the Ampitheatre.

On the walk up to Spirit Lake, you could find Eric Krasno & The Assembly serenading the audience with their unique sound. Lettuce helped close out the amphitheater with a special appearance from founding member, Krasno, for most of their set. Chris Lake brought the house at the Hallows and, Skrillex absolutely crushed it on the Meadows Stage. With the Hallows stage directly adjacent to the Meadows Stage (main stage), the crowd was gathered together unlike any other Hulaween. It was a beautiful site to see thousands of music goers gathered once again to dance the night away.

Saturday was a beautiful fall day in Live Oak, Florida. Bubbles and smiles bounced around the woods while there was a radiant glow percolating thru the trees. With music starting at 2:00 PM and not ending until 4:00 AM, Hulaween provided such a diverse selection of musical options. MZG had the crowd getting down during their day set. While Masego and Cautious Clay, on their different stages, brought the day into night. The String Cheese Incident performed three sets of music; ending their day with a stellar cover set dedicated to dancing. 

Starting off with David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance’ set the tone for this special set.  With other hits like “I’m Your Boogie Man” (KC and The Sunshine Band), “Dancing in the Streets,” and closing with Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer,” the vibe was set from top to bottom. Not to mention, the giant T-Rex and magical Dragon that paraded around the Meadows crowd covered in confetti.  My Morning Jacket and Claude VonStroke also closed things out Saturday night for their fans. And for those who were still looking for more, Jon Stickley Trio put on an out of this world, late night set. 

The last day of the festival was nothing short of spectacular as well.  Maggie Rose belted out her beautiful voice to get things popping on Day 4. This was followed up by some bluegrass from Sierra Hull, and one more set from String Cheese on the Meadows Stage. One of the big highlights for me on Sunday was the Turkuaz / Remain in Light set. Jerry Harrison and Adrian Belew of Talkings Heads sat in with Turkuaz for the entire set and played top hits like “Psycho Killer," “Life During Wartime,” and "Once in a Lifetime." 

Upon leaving the festival, I would find out that was Turkuaz’s last show as a whole, which made it that much more special. Jungle brought their unique sound over the pond and blessed the audience with a magical set full of upbeat pop. Khruangbin finished things off on the main stage on Sunday evening with their unique blend of psychedelic rock. And in classic Suwannee fashion, Roosevelt Collier Band had the honor of closing out the festival on the Spirit Lake Stage.  

Looking back on this amazing experience certainly brings up a range of emotions. In a way, it feels like the weekend was actually a full week. Then again, it also feels like it passed us by in the blink of an eye. I think we can all agree that these experiences, such as Hulaween, can't be taken for granted. We've all seen what the world looks and feels like without music festivals, concerts, and live music in general. Having the ability to not only attend, but cover this year’s Hulaween celebration, was truly an honor. Festival organizers, as well as the amazing hosts of The String Cheese Incident, found a way to continue to raise the bar once again. The countdown has officially begun for the 2022 festival season!

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JingleBall Will Feature Tribute to The Last Waltz in Montgomery October 27, 2021 08:25

Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography

Words by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

Purchase Early Bird Tickets to JingleBall 2021

We promised that JingleBall would return for a second year in 2021, and it brings me great joy to confirm this news today. You may recall the debut of this event in December of 2019, when an all-star cast came together to recreate the epic Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense. Many will likely wonder how one could try and top that performance, and we're confident that today's announcement will leave no doubts.  

On Thursday, December 23rd (2021), members of Trey Anastasio Band, Jimmy Herring & The 5 of 7, Dr. John, Railroad Earth, The Marcus King BandPerpetual Groove, Ghost Note, Honey Island Swamp Band, The Talismen, and more will join forces at The Tipping Point in Montgomery. This incredible lineup will pay tribute to The Band with a full performance of their legendary concert film The Last Waltz. This will undoubtedly be Live & Listen's biggest production to date, and most certainly an event that Montgomery will remember for year's to come.  

This year's lineup includes: Jennifer Hartswick (Trey Anastasio Band), Kevin Scott (Jimmy Herring & The 5 of 7), Matt Slocum (Railroad Earth), Darren Stanley (Perpetual Groove), Rick Lollar (Jimmy Herring & The 5 of 7), Dave Yoke (Dr. John), Christopher Spies (The Marcus King Band), Daniel Wytanis (Ghost Note), Mark Raudabaugh (Donna The Buffalo), Rhett Huffman (American Aquarium), Lee Yankie (Honey Island Swamp Band), Aaron Wilkinson (Honey Island Swamp Band), Billy Gant (The Murder Hornets), Jason Collier (Ruby Velle & The Soulphonics), Jordan Shalhoup (Yacht Rock Revue), and all four members of The Talismen. 

None of this would be possible without our title sponsor: Central Alabama Psychology, our venue: The Tipping Point, and our esteemed musical director: Kevin Scott. A very limited number of early bird tickets are available now and can be purchased for $20 each by clicking here. Ticket prices will increase on Wednesday, November 3rd. We strongly encourage those who plan to attend to purchase their tickets in advance. Stay tuned for further updates on JingleBall 2021!

Artwork by Cy Simonton: Cymonton Design

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Watch The Band perform "Up On Cripple Creek" during The Last Waltz here:

Musical director and bassist extraordinaire Kevin Scott performing at JingleBall 2019 in Montgomery, AL. 

Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography


Hulaween Unveils Set Times For Sold-Out 2021 Festival October 14, 2021 14:11

Photo by Isom Morgan Photography

Suwannee Hulaween has unveiled set times for this year’s sold-out festival, taking place Thursday, October 28 until Sunday, October 31 at Spirit of Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, FL. Festival attendees can view the set times on Hulaween’s social media accounts and the festival app, available on the App Store and Google Play. All set times are subject to change.
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Bringing over 100 of the most diverse live and electronic acts to Spirit of Suwannee Music Park, the sold-out Hulaween 2021 marks a triumphant return for the festival. Since its inception in 2013, the Halloween-themed festival has evolved into one of the country’s leading cross-genre festivals.
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For the eighth edition of the festival, Hulaween welcomes host band The String Cheese Incident for three nights of unrivaled bluegrass-focused jamming along with headliners SkrillexMy Morning JacketLeon BridgesKhruangbinZeds Dead (Deadbeats Takeover), Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, and Greensky BluegrassHulaween offers attendees five different stages for dancing: The Meadow Stage, The Hallows Stage, Amphitheater Stage, Spirit Lake Stage, and Campground Stage.
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Hulaween 2021 will bring highly sought-after acts to The Meadow Stage, where headliners The String Cheese Incident and Skrillex will close out Friday evening following live performances from Dumpstaphunk and  Raquel Rodriguez throughout the day. On Saturday, The Meadow Stage presents live performances from Magnolia Boulevard followed by headliners The String Cheese Incident and My Morning Jacket. On the final day at The Meadow Stage, Hulaween  attendees will dance the night away on Halloween with live performances from Sierra Hull and headliners The String Cheese Incident and Khruangbin.

Check out The String Cheese Incident performing "Turn On Your Lovelight" from Hulaween 2017 here:

Starting the weekend off strong, The newly-positioned Hallows Stage opens on Thursday, October 28 for DJ sets from  LSDREAMDeathpactGG MagreeWreckno, and headliners Zeds Dead for their Deadbeats takeover. On Friday, The Hallows Stage presents jam bands Tank and The  BangasRussell Batiste & Friends, and West End Blend before evening DJ sets from Bonobo and Chris Lake. The Hallows Stage party continues on Saturday with live performances from Durand Jones & The IndicationsCautious ClayBedouineSomeday Honey, and headliner Leon Bridges. For the final day of Hulaween, The Hallows Stage will be home to special performances from JungleTurkuaz / Remain In Light, and Maggie Rose.
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The spirit of Suwannee Hulaween burns bright on The Amphitheater Stage, opening Thursday for live performances from Kyle Hollingsworth Band and headliners Joe Russo’s Almost Dead and Greensky Bluegrass. On Friday, attendees can catch a mix of DJ sets and live performances from LettuceManic FocusThe Floozies, and Daily Bread while Saturday’s lineup features a hip-hop edge with performers CordaeEarthgangMasegoThe Original Nth Power, and Little Stranger. For Halloween night, Hulaween transforms The Amphitheater Stage into a hub for dreamy music with performers Lane 8Surf MesaEVAN GIIA, and Lamorn.
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For those who march to the beat of their own drum, unique sounds and styles are in store at the Spirit Lake Stage, featuring Thursday performances from Lotus, SunSquabiBreak ScienceLeSpecial, and S.P.O.R.E. On Friday, Spirit Lake features a stacked lineup of genre-bending acts: Grass Is DeadNeal FrancisKrasno & The AssemblyMagic CIty HippiesCelisse, and Tand will bring their unique sounds to the stage. Attendees can dance their entire Saturday away at Spirit Lake with DJ sets from Claude VonStrokeMark FarinaLP GiobbiNalaBIICLAMZG, and Booty Boo b2b VladTheInhaler followed by a late-night live performance from the Jon Stickley Trio. To close out the weekend, Hulaween invites MersivMizeVEIL b2b NotLö, and Levitation Jones to Spirit Lake followed by a final performance from Roosevelt Collier.
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Funk and blues are the heart and soul of the Campground Stage, where acts Joe Marcinek BandAnthill CinemaHoney HoundsStick Martin and Jon DittyOxford Noland, and Grandpa Da Gambler will perform the first day of Hulaween. Friday at the Campground Stage offers more extraordinary live performances from KamaniFlipturnGreenhouse LoungeThe FritzThe Reality, and Shine and The Shakers while Saturday brings Funk YouRohan SoloHoney Island Swamp BandNerf The WorldRevival, and Astro to the stage. For the celebratory final day of Hulaween, the endlessly exciting Dr. BaconTire FireJGBCBLesibu GrandGrandpa Da Gambler, and GoldenEra will close out the Campground Stage for the weekend.

 


The Talismen Prepare For Halloween Show At Capri Theatre October 5, 2021 14:42

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Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography
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The four-piece, jam/rock band known as The Talismen has deep roots in Montgomery, Alabama. All four band members spent their teenage years here, before graduating high school and moving on to their respective universities. Many will remember the band as teenagers performing various events around the Capitol City, but that was many years ago and much has changed.
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While primarily being split between Auburn and Birmingham, The Talismen have managed to continue growing and building on their original catalog, all while continuing to tour across the Southeast. They released their debut album, Jar Full of Something, in March of 2019. The album has since chalked up over 500,000 streams on Spotify. Following the release, the band teamed up with renowned bassist Kevin Scott (Jimmy Herring, Col. Bruce Hampton), who recorded and produced their second studio release, Extra Vehicular Activity. While the COVID-19 pandemic certainly presented its challenges, it didn't stop The Talismen from releasing Live From The Bunker, which gives listeners an in depth look at their constantly evolving improvisational skill. 
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Watch The Talismen perform "Puddle Jumpin" at Atlanta's Aisle 5 here:
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You may have had the chance to catch these guys playing alongside Big Something at The Tipping Point back in July, or maybe even headlining Common Ground Shakedown at Union Station Train Shed later in the summer. Regardless, their upcoming Halloween show at Montgomery's Capri Theatre on Saturday, October 30th will be a unique and special occasion. This will be the band's first performance at the Capri, which has hosted acts such as The Derek Trucks Band, Oteil & The Peacemakers, Col. Bruce Hampton, Big Something, George Porter Jr., and many more over the years. This show will feature two full sets from the band, and from what we've been told, there will be plenty of surprises throughout the night. In the spirit of Halloween, the band strongly encourages those attending to arrive in costume.
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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this show will serve as the Capri's first true concert in 20 months. A very limited number of tickets are available for this show, and they can be purchased today by clicking here. Prior to the show, Moe's Original BBQ will be hosting a pre-party featuring live music from 4:00 PM -7:00 PM. Doors will open at the Capri at 7:00 PM, and The Talismen will kick things off at 7:30 PM. We had a chance to speak to the band earlier this week, and you can check out what they had to say below. 
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It has been great being back on the road with the guys. We’ve already covered so much ground and met so many amazing folks. Playing our first Halloween Show at the Capri Theater has been a dream of ours for a while. It’s great to see it finally come to fruition. Feeling super grateful!” - Jack Bennett (lead guitar)
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I guess I would say all my excitement about this tour is stemming from the fact that we are really gelling right now on stage. For us, that starts in the practice room. We play our best when we are writing new music and pushing our own personal boundaries in the basement, and we have gotten some really quality time together doing both of those things recently.- Jack Anderson (bass guitar/vocals)
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These past couple of months have allowed us to get back into the swing of things and we're feeling more prepared than ever. This show is gonna be something special and I highly encourage everyone to come get down with us!” - George Norrell (drums)
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The past year has definitely had it’s challenges. Being able to get back out on the road and play our music in a live setting has been truly rewarding. We’ve always hoped to have a chance to play the Capri, and this Halloween show is going to be a very special night for us.” - Jack Wagstaff (keyboards/vocals)
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CBDB's Fall Tour Kicks Off In Georgia This Weekend September 28, 2021 15:45

Press Release via CBDB

(Nashville, TN) September 28th, 2021 – CBDB is back on the road this fall with some exciting, high-energy shows planned! Dates include 2 nights in Georgia with funk outfit, Voodoo Visionary, a jam-packed Halloween show in Nashville at the historic Exit/In, and a New Year’s Eve tradition continued in Huntsville. They have enlisted some of their favorites to get the party started on the road such as bass player Blake Gallant’s side project, Motion and Matter, waterbed rock & rollers, Captain Midnight Band, super talented close friend, Andy Lyle Hall, and all the way from Italy, Giacomo Turra. 

CBDB is a progressive rock, jam-band from Alabama and their music is spreading from the southeast across the nation like wildfire. Defining a newfound, southern blend of joyous and progressive rock n roll, they channel a sonic mix of soulful vocals and virtuosic musicianship with smart, tasteful songwriting. On stage, each member of CBDB fluidly plays between complex composition and loose exploratory improvisation creating an incredible and unique live experience.

CBDB has played major festivals including Hulaween, Peach Fest, Okeechobee, Sweetwater 420, Summer Camp, Electric Forest, Sloss Fest, Aura, Backwoods, Euphoria, and The Werk Out. They’ve also shared the stage with the likes of Umphrey’s McGee, Papadosio, Galactic, Kyle Hollingsworth Band, Perpetual Groove, The Wailers, Blues Traveler, Spafford, and many more.

Fresh off the release of a new single & live album, “Back in Limbo” (recorded in isolation during the 2020 quarantine) & “Live Deebs: Vol. 1″, CBDB is set to take the country by storm. Soaring monthly listeners and followers have further propelled their growth & continue to bring the band widespread attention, interest, and new fans daily. Dive into CBDB’s eclectic catalogue of tunes today and catch them live on tour near you soon!

CBDB is Cy Simonton, Kris Gottlieb, Glenn Dillard, Blake Gallant & Chris Potocik. For tickets & more information, please visit cbdbmusic.com. COVID-19 guidelines & procedures available on the venues’ websites. 

DATES

  • 10/1: Atlanta, GA – Terminal West w/ Voodoo Visionary
  • 10/2: Charleston, SC – Charleston Pour House w/ Captain Midnight Band
  • 10/15: Athens, GA – Georgia Theatre w/ Voodoo Visionary
  • 10/29: Raleigh, NC – Pour House Music Hall w/ Andy Lyle Hall
  • 10/31: Nashville, TN – Exit/In w/ Blake Gallant’s Motion and Matter + special guests
  • 11/4: Oxford, MS – Proud Larry’s 
  • 11/6: Jackson, MS – Martin’s Downtown w/ Giacomo Turra 
  • 12/31: Huntsville, AL – Sidetracks Music Hall 

LINKS

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

YouTube | Spotify | Bandcamp | Bandsintown | Apple Music | Google Play


Benton Crane Discusses Debut Solo Release 'Welcome to Paradise' September 9, 2021 16:01

Photo via Thomas Diasio

Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

To say it's been a busy year for multi-instrumentalist Benton Crane would be quite the understatement. The previously Alabama-based musician spent much time balancing time between his multi-year project, Ice Station Zebra, and a new venture as keyboardist for Birmingham's Manic Vision. All the while, Crane was finding time to continue working on his debut solo album, Welcome to Paradise, which is officially available on all major streaming outlets today. He has recently relocated from Birmingham to Boulder, where he will continue his musical journey in one of America's richest musical hotbeds. 

We recently had a chance to catch up with Crane to learn all about the new release, which has proven to be much different than any of his previous work. You can find his official bio and the full conversation below, as well as links to stream the album in its entirety via Spotify. Make sure to check out Crane's newly completed, official website (BentonCraneMusic.com) to keep up with all of the latest happenings.

Official Bio: Benton Crane

The mind behind the madness is what provides beauty to art, and Benton Crane has an ambitious head on his shoulders. The twenty-six-year-old Birmingham native grew up on classic rock and rollers like The Beatles and Bob Dylan, listening to music that added vulnerability and creativity to the genre like never before. It is in these pockets where Benton’s psychedelic take on keyboard-driven pop/rock music finds its feet. His lyrics strive to provoke thought, feeling, and introspection in a world that can seem to lack such humanistic values. Benton hopes the listener finds something meaningful in his upcoming debut album, “Welcome to Paradise”.

I know it must be quite gratifying to release your debut solo album, Welcome to Paradise. How long has this project been in the works?
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Benton: I started working on this project in December of 2020. I came down with COVID during the holidays and had to be isolated for two weeks. Fortunately, my symptoms stayed relatively mild. At the time, I hadn’t defined much vision for the project. I mainly just wanted to experiment with recording and arranging some songs that I’d been working on. Soon after starting a few songs, I decided to turn the project into a concept album that tells a story. 
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Throughout this pandemic, I lost a bit of faith in humanity and making this album was rather cathartic. Issues such as the climate crisis, as well as racial and gender inequality, had been deeply weighing on my mind. Welcome to Paradise tells the story of a society that is way off the mark…neglecting their home planet (I call Paradise I), and are fueled by greed and hate. Environmental crisis along with societal decay leads them to a catastrophic decline. They decide to evacuate Paradise I into space. 
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Their new home, Paradise II is a beautiful place, until they arrive. They soon discover that it’s only a matter of time until Paradise II is a barren wasteland…and the cycle continues. My goal was to tell a story, while still leaving enough up to the imagination for the listener. This is the story that these songs tell me. It may mean something different to you. 
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You've been a part of several bands in your past, most notably, Ice Station Zebra and Manic Vision. While your time with Manic Vision was limited, you were a founding member of ISZ. How did the writing process for this album compare to that of your past projects?
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Benton: It was a lot less collaborative and a bit more experimental than my previous projects. Some of the sections to these songs weren’t written until I hit “record” and followed my ear. Sometimes it would take weeks to figure out exactly what I wanted or how a part was "supposed" to go. In Ice Station Zebra or Manic Vision, we would go into the studio knowing what songs we were recording and more or less how we wanted to play them. We usually couldn’t afford to do much experimenting in the studio, so things were pretty set in stone going in. 
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The songs were also typically road tested a bit before recording them. For Welcome to Paradise, it was pretty much the opposite. I had the time and freedom to write and rewrite these songs until I was happy. “These Chains” was written during the summer of 2020 and it just seemed to be a good fit for the album. A few other songs went through several re-writes until I was satisfied.  
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When and where was this material recorded? How was this experience unique from past studio sessions?
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Benton: I recorded the entire album in my home studio. Doing it myself, I had a lot more time for experimentation than in the past because I wasn’t paying anyone for the studio session. I had the freedom to hit record and try something new, and not have to worry about running up the bill or going over budget. Being able to take risks with these songs really made a difference in terms of developing a new style for myself. It was all very freeing, which is probably why it took me nine months to produce an eight track album. 
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Stream Welcome to Paradise in its entirety here:
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I'm guessing that there was a fair amount of collaboration involved in this project. What other musicians contributed to the album?
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Benton: The writing and recording for this album by nature was not very collaborative. I took my ever-changing vision and just ran with it, recording everything myself. I wanted to see what I could come up with while being as self-sufficient as possible. My partner, Anna Alford, sings some beautiful backing vocals on the songs “Paradise I” and “Everything We Touch. 
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did have some other great folks help me out in the post-production phase. My friend and Manic Vision bassist Hayes Laporte worked with me on mixing and mastering these songs. Artist Katelyn Simmons made some amazing artwork for each track to help add a visual element to the story (I will be sharing these one at a time after the album is out). You can see her work in the artwork for the two single releases for this album "Everything We Touch" and "A New Dawn." Josh Clark, guitarist for Tea Leaf Green, made the incredible album cover art. It was so beautiful seeing these pieces come to life after months and months of working on the album. I self produced the entire album, and I feel like I’ve grown a lot as an artist throughout this process. 
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Of course, after working on the same eight songs for nine months, I needed some fresh ears on the tracks. Before I released "Everything We Touch" as a single, I met with Marco Benevento to get some feedback and suggestions for producing the track. He was super helpful and gave me some great tips that I was able to use on the rest of the album. My friends and former ISZ bandmates Ethan Maas and Jack Fagan were helpful in checking my work and providing some feedback as well. 
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This release happens to coincide with your recent move to Colorado. Do you see yourself assembling a backing band to try and play these songs live in the future?.

Benton: That is definitely something I’d like to do at some point. It would be a new approach to performing from the rock/jam bands I usually gig with. It may be a little while before that comes together. In the past, I’ve written songs by thinking about how to perform them live, with standard live instrumentation, but this time I didn’t want to consider the live performance, because I felt it would limit the expression of the songs. 
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Some of the arrangements were influenced by The Beatles' work towards the late 60's. The instrumentation gets crazy with tubas and french horns and violins and weird sounding pipe organs, and lots and lots of synths. Many of these arrangements and production techniques can be tough to reproduce live, but it would be a lot of fun transforming them into a live performance one day. 
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What can your fans / friends / family expect with your solo career moving forward? Do you see any new projects in Colorado on the horizon?
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Benton: I’m definitely in the market looking to join another band in Colorado. I’m going to take my time finding a good fit and not rush into a new group. As far as my solo work goes, I’m going to keep on releasing music. After Welcome to Paradise, I plan to start releasing singles every 1-2 months, and I’m going to do an acoustic video series on my YouTube channel where I play my upright piano or acoustic guitar. .

I have written so many songs in so many different styles over the years, so I’m excited to have this platform for them and to share them with people. I’ll be collaborating with other musicians as well. I’ve recently finished my website, bentoncranemusic.com, so check that out. Also, there is an Ice Station Zebra EP that has been in the works for a while. Even though I have moved on, we are still finishing it up. Hopefully, it will be released by the end of the year, I'm really excited about that.

Early James Late Addition to Stellar HP40 Fall Bluegrass Festival September 1, 2021 13:18

Words by Caleb Calhoun: Get On The Bus

Photos by Tonya Wise Photography

There aren’t too many locations more alive with beauty in the southeast than Horspens 40. The legendary ridgeline littered with Pre-Cambrian boulders has inspired reverence in it’s visitors since far before Europeans crossed the sea to claim such treasures as their own. Local legend says that the Cherokee and Creek signed a peace treaty there nearly 400 years ago and throughout the park's history it has continued to be a place where humans gather to talk, walk and this weekend dance to some of the best bluegrass music Alabama has to offer.
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A quick perusal of the lineup and anyone in the know about Alabama Bluegrass immediately knows. Sicard Hollow, The Yellow Dandies, Stepdads, (featuring members of Little Raine Band and Zach Austin and the Lonesome) and now the late addition of Early James, presented by Dave’s Pub in Southside, a last minute magic trick that event director Cammie Windley pulled out of the hat when their shows at Bonnaroo were canceled due to Hurricane Ida.
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The event, which is moving into its 4th year (after a Covid induced pause in 2020) has become a tradition for many southeastern musicians and music fans alike due to its low-key vibe and excellent booking began as a way to fill the void left by another longtime festival, Acoustic Cafe.

“I used to go to this festival called Acoustic Cafe,” Windley explains “and it had to come to an end for various reasons.” By that point, Windley had developed a relationship with AC’s event coordinator Steve Masterson.

“He is the whole reason I even got passionate about the music scene. I’ve been to bigger festivals before but I owe him everything as far as learning how to run a music festival.”

Windley had previous connections to HP40 from managing The Yellow Dandies and when Acoustic Cafe announced they would not be doing their Memorial Day festival anymore all of the pieces fell together to move the vibe to there.

Since that time the Spring and Fall Bluegrass and Crafts Festivals at HP40 have become another part of the changing seasons for many Alabamians, and not just because of what happens on stage. With HP40’s expansive grounds the real jams get going when the stage lights go off. These late night fire jams are such an integral part of the festival that Windley schedules the music to end early on Saturday evening just to make sure everyone has a chance to sit by a fire and jam.

Daniel Raine (Little Raine Band, Stepdads) who is playing Friday night with Stepdads explains it to me this way:

“For everybody that goes it’s really about the campfire jams and just hanging out with people. We have all night to just jam by the fire and cook food and that’s really what it’s all about.”

It’s difficult to imagine a more idyllic setting to take in good music, clean air and the beauty of nature. Tickets are $50 at the gate and include parking and camping. And who knows, maybe some Auburn and Alabama fans will make peace with each other as they dance deep into the night to the sound of bluegrass music rising up in the hollars and fields around them.
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Notes for Attendees:

- Alcohol will not be sold on site. Respectful consumption is permitted.
- No dogs are allowed on property.
- Do not feed any farm animals on the property.
- HP40 is privately owned by a family that has worked hard to conserve and protect the land while also making it available to the public. Please treat the property and the staff with respect.
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Lineup:

Friday: George Scherer, The Stepdads, Sicard Hollow (Music starts at 6PM),

Saturday: Random Mountain Ramblers, Sam Pointer, Alan Tolbert and Julia Tamborello, The Yellow Dandies, Ross Hoppe, Rock Bottom String Band, Early James (Music starts at 12PM).


Funk You's Album Release Show Set For Avondale Brewery August 26, 2021 13:57

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Photo by Tom Farr
Words by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
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Georgia funk/rock veterans Funk You are scheduled to make their highly anticipated return to Birmingham's Avondale Brewery on Friday, September 10th. This nine-piece act is no stranger to the Birmingham area, as many will remember appearances at CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival, Zydeco, Saturn, and Avondale Brewery in recent years. It's been an absolute pleasure watching Funk You continue to climb the ranks of the jam/festival circuit over the past decade, and they show no sign of slowing down anytime soon.
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The Avondale show (9/10) will also serve as an album release celebration, as the band's latest studio effort Moving Forward is set for release on September 10th. Fellow Georgia rockers The Orange Constant will also be on hand for what promises to be a killer opening set. And just in case you were wondering, this show is presented by Big Friendly Productions, so you know it's going to be top notch in all aspects. 
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In preparation for this show, Live & Listen is giving away a pair of tickets via Facebook and Instagram. In order to enter the contest, make sure you're following us on both social outlets. You can enter via Facebook by sharing this post directly from our page and tagging a friend in the comments. You can enter via Instagram by 'liking' our post and tagging a friend in the comments. Once again, make sure you're following Live & Listen in order to be eligible to win. 
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This summer has certainly been a busy one for the band, as they have made recent appearances at Mountain Music FestivalThe Peach Festival, Holla Yella Music Festival, and Summer Camp Music Festival. They also traveled to Atlantic City, New Jersey to play a Phish after party at Lucky Snake Spirit Bar, where they were joined on stage by Cory Wong of Vulfpeck.
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In addition to Birmingham on September 10th, their album release tour includes appearances at Resonance Music FestivalSuwannee Hulaween, and major markets such as: Charlotte, Brookyln, Virginia Beach, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington DC, Charleston, Atlanta, Denver, Chicago, and many more. They will end the year on a particularly high note, as they join Pigeons Playing Ping Pong and Keller Williams on New Year's Eve at Harrah's Cherokee Center in Asheville, NC
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It's safe to say that Funk You is riding some serious momentum. After a crushing year for the entire music industry, these guys have managed to come back with a vengeance. Anyone who has been watching their progression over the last decade can attest that their success is well deserved. They have worked as hard as any band out there, and the many years of grinding are clearly paying off. 
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We recently had a chance to catch up with Funk You's Will Clark (drummer) to learn a little bit more about what the band's been up to, as well as what we can expect from their upcoming album release tour. Check out the conversation below, and make sure to plan accordingly for the album release show at Avondale Brewery on Friday, September 10th! 
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  • After such a tough year, how has the summer tour treated the band thus far?  "It's awesome to be playing shows and seeing all the smiling faces again. We've had a lot of sold out shows this year, killer festival appearances, and we've really appreciated the warm welcome back." 
  • What have been the highlights of 2021 for Funk You? "We are finally putting out our record Moving Forward, which has been in the works for several years. It was ultimately delayed due to COVID. So, it's a big relief to finally get that out. Summer Camp and Peach Fest were both amazing."
  • How would you summarize the effects that the past year has had on the band as a whole? "It struck at a weird time, since it was our 10 year anniversary as a band. In a sense, it was nice to have some downtime to reflect. We spent a lot of time writing and recording, so it wasn't a complete break, but we did appreciate having some time off. Now, we're ready to be getting back at it full force." 
  • What should the Birmingham audience expect from the band’s return to Avondale? "A fully rejuvenated band. September 10th is actually the official release date for Moving Forward, and this will be the first show of the album release tour. This is going to be a night filled with tons of excitement and energy from the band."
  • Any exciting news / shows / festival appearances on the horizon this year?  "We're definitely excited about NYE with Pigeons Playing Ping Pong and Keller Williams in Asheville. This will be our first arena show. We're looking forward to playing Hulaween and Resonance again this Fall. We're doing two sets at Resonance, one original + a tribute to Funk, Soul and Rock & Roll, so that will be a lot of fun. And we're certainly pumped for our hometown throw down at Terminal West in December."

All quotes via Will Clark (drums) of Funk You

Check out the title track, "Moving Forward" from the new album here:


It's Finally Time For 'Hog Days of Summer' In Montgomery August 25, 2021 13:21

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Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography
Words by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
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Back in 2017, a group of longtime friends and Montgomery natives came together to build on a new and exciting concept for their hometown. After years of supporting and watching the success of Hogs For The Cause, a nationally-known barbecue and music festival in New Orleans, these friends decided to bring this concept to Montgomery. It was then that The Druids Charity Club was born, and they would quickly bring their idea to life in the form of Hog Days of Summer.
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For this year's Hog Days of Summer, we have once again teamed up with our buddies at Hogs for the Cause to help raise money for families affected by pediatric brain cancer. At the end of the day this is what it's all about: harnessing all of this energy and hard work into such a worthwhile cause. The money we raise goes to direct grants which these families can use to offset costs in whatever manner they choose," Inge Hill (Druids Charity Club) explains.
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Over the last four years, Hog Days has quickly established itself as one of Montgomery's largest, most highly anticipated events of the year. The Druids team has worked tirelessly to unite the River Region's barbecue community in such a unique and refreshing manner. What better way to bring the community together than having so many amazing restaurants under one roof, while incredible, nationally touring artists perform on stage?
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"The BBQ lineup is top notch. We have all the original teams who have been with us since the beginning, plus a few new faces we've wanted all along but it didn't work out for whatever reason. So, we've got Moe's Original BBQ, Jim N Nick's, Dreamland, Smokehouse, Mojo Hand, Brenda's, K&J Rib Shack, Peche, Monroe Sausage, and, of course, the organizer's personal team Druids BBQ.
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It's been a tough couple of years for so many businesses. We're particularly sympathetic to the restaurants and those connected to the entertainment industry. These restaurants play a critical part to the festival's success and we're forever indebted to them for their willingness to stick with us. Alabama has a rich BBQ tradition and these restaurants showcase a wide range of styles and influences that are popular in the state and beyond," Hill added. 
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While the Druids team has featured some incredible acts, such as North Mississippi Allstars, The Band of Heathens, Banditos, and Rollin' in the Hay, they're confident that this year's musical lineup is their strongest to date. When asked to elaborate on what average Hog Days attendee should expect on Saturday, you could definitely sense the excitement from Hill.
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"We've really got a great lineup that we are confident will appeal to our diverse crowd. We roughly strive to bring in Blues and Americana acts which is, generally speaking, the roots of most popular American music. So, we've got legendary road man Robert Earl Keen as our headliner. He's an outstanding songwriter out of Texas, in the outlaw country tradition. He's been doing his thing forever, it seems, but still keeps it fresh in 2021.
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Cedric Burnside will be playing as a duo. If there's better music to be listening to while barbecuing and drinking beer than Mississippi Hill Country Blues, I haven't found it, and Mr. Burnside comes from Hill Country royalty. He brings a fresh and modern sound to a beloved tradition.
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I don't think anyone in Montgomery needs an introduction to jam/bluegrass-infused/southern rock band Jupiter Coyote. They've been playing 'round these parts for decades, and you know they're going to bring it every time they take the stage. What some may not know is they've been getting back in the studio and writing new material lately. Those guys are continuing to evolve.
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We are also really excited about our fourth act, Earl 'Guitar' Williams out of Bessemer. Earl grew up with music in his blood, and has travelled far and wide, but has always called Bessemer home. He will be playing a wide range of blues and probably some country. Be sure to look out for his cigar box guitar."
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Watch Robert Earl Keen perform "Feelin' Good Again" here:
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I would like to think that most anyone in Montgomery can appreciate what the Druids team is doing for this city. We're long past the days of Jubilee City Fest, and Montgomery can use as many annual music festivals as it can get. Aside from the incredible music and delicious barbecue, this is an opportunity to come together and support an amazing cause. Every year, this event leads to a significant donation to Hogs For The Cause, an organization working tirelessly to help families fighting pediatric brain cancer. 
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As a fellow music promoter in Montgomery, few things make me happier than to see others in the community working to improve on the city's music scene. The concept of Hog Days is one that I couldn't admire any more than I already do. Bringing the city together to celebrate a fantastic group of local restaurants, providing top notch, nationally acclaimed live music, and doing it all to raise money for families who need it most. That, my friends, is the definition of a noble cause. 
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When asked what motivates their team to continue spending so much time to build on this event each year, Hill added: "When it all comes together at the last minute, usually right as doors are opening, is a satisfying feeling. The most important thing is getting the checks in the hands of those families. Those stories never fail to bring a tear to our eyes. But beyond that, we've always envisioned this as a community event in every sense of the word. Providing an environment for folks from different generations and parts of the city to get together to eat delicious BBQ, dance to great music, and laugh in the children's area is an honor and an opportunity we don't take lightly."
 
Those planning to attend Hog Days should take note of the following scheduling notes from the festival's website: Doors open at 3:00 PM. BBQ will be available upon entry. Music begins with Jupiter Coyote at 3:30 PM. Cedric Burnside will perform at 5:45 PM. Robert Earl Keen will follow at 8:00 PM. Earl 'Guitar' Williams and the Juke Band will be playing mini-sets on the side stage at 3:00 PM, 5:00 PM, and 7:15 PM. 
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Watch the official music video for Cedric Burnside's "Step In" here:
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Listen to Jupiter Coyote's "Ship In The Bottle" here:
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Manic Vision & Ice Station Zebra Join Forces in Birmingham on Friday August 16, 2021 13:17

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Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography
Words by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
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Calling all Birmingham music fans. If you're itching for some killer live music this weekend, we've got exactly what you need. If you've followed the Alabama jam scene in recent years, you're likely familiar with both Manic Vision and Ice Station Zebra. Both acts have been grinding across the state: building a strong, diverse following. While the lineups have evolved since their early years, they have both continued to hone in on their original sound and build on their craft in impressive fashion.
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We couldn't be more excited to see these two acts join forces on the big stage at Birmingham's Avondale Brewery on Friday night. In preparation for the show, Live & Listen is giving away a pair of tickets on both our Facebook and Instagram pages. To enter the contest, please share this post from our Facebook page and tag a friend in the comments on the post. You can also enter by heading to our Instagram page and following instructions there.
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It's always a special occasion when we get to celebrate multiple, local acts in one night. Friday night will be no exception. This will be somewhat of a sendoff show for keyboardist Benton Crane, a founding member of Ice Station Zebra and current member of Manic Vision. Crane, a valued member of the Birmingham music scene, will be relocating to Colorado in the near future. We wish him well and thank him for his countless contributions over the years.
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We caught up with both bands over the weekend to get a little more insight on Friday night's show. Check out their quotes below, and make sure to spread the word about this show!
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What has been the focal point for the band as shows have resurfaced this summer?
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"The focal point has been to make each show better than the last, as well as getting our name out there to new places. Birmingham is home, and it’s safe to say that we feel very comfortable here, so now it’s time to take what we’ve learned and produced and get it out to new places and audiences." 
- Carter Speidel, Manic Vision
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"Our focus for the summer has been playing some tight and fun shows as a band after taking almost a year off. Since Benton is leaving to do bigger and better things with his music career, we have also focused on enjoying our time together and getting pumped for the Avondale show!"
-Davis Collman, Ice Station Zebra
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What does it mean to you guys to get back on the big stage at Avondale for a hometown show?
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"We’re all really excited. There’s always so much energy at these types of shows. This particular show is a bittersweet experience for me personally. I’ve been with ISZ since the beginning over 4 years ago and have been with MV for over a year and this will be my last show in Birmingham and with either band before I move out west. It feels right saying goodbye from the Avondale stage."
- Benton Crane, Ice Station Zebra & Manic Vision
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How has the summer been thus far? Highlights? Anything exciting on the horizon?
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“Just being able to play these new songs throughout the southeast has been great. We’ve got some soundboard recordings with video that we’re sitting on, might be looking at a live album sometime soon.” 
- Andrew Krist, Manic Vision
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What can fans expect from the Avondale show next weekend?
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“We will be slicing up a grand tour of our song catalogue along with a choice cover or two. Folks should come out to Avondale ready to hear well-crafted songwriting as well as improvisational jamming out of both bands. We’re excited for the show!” 
- Ethan Maas, Ice Station Zebra
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“I think our fans can expect a great show. We have been putting in the time and effort during practice to get tighter, more dynamic, and have added different experimentation.” 
- Hayes Laporte, Manic Vision
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Check out Manic Vision via Spotify here:
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CCheck out Ice Station Zebra via Spotify here:
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Big Something w/ The Talismen: Presented by Capitol Container June 22, 2021 17:07

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Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography
Words by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
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We could not be more pleased to be back in the groove with another exciting night of live music in Montgomery. This past year and a half has been tough on us all, and what better way to get reacquainted than a rock and roll show. One of the hottest rising acts on the festival circuit, Big Something, will make for an incredible headliner, while local favorites The Talismen will provide direct support. Many will recognize Big Something from appearances at festivals such as: LOCKN' Festival, Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, Electric Forest, Summer Camp Music Festival, Suwannee Hulaween, Mountain Music Festival, SweetWater 420 Festival and many more. 
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Thursday, July 1st will not be an ordinary night at The Tipping Point. We're bringing in a large covered stage, along with an extensive audio and lighting package. Doors will open at 6:00 PM. The Talismen will kick things off at 6:30 PM, and Big Something takes the stage at 8:00 PM. Those who purchase tickets in advance will be on the list, and they will receive their wristband(s) upon entry. While tickets are moving fast, we have a limited amount available which can be purchased by clicking here.
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None of this would be possible without the support of our local business sponsors. We would like to give special thanks to our title sponsor, Capitol Container, as well as Central Alabama Psychology, Parsons Broach Financial, Vintage Year, Vintage Cafe, Hans Heating & Air, Hampstead, The Tipping Point, Alley Station, The Starke Agency, Moe's Original BBQ, Zaxby's, SaZa Serious Italian, Emerge Montgomery, Jim & Murray Bennett, Clay McInnis, Billy & Stephanie Norrell, and Carter Goodwyn. 
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Watch Big Something perform at Mountain Music Festival [06.05.21] here:
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The Dude of Life & Andy Greenberg Discuss Space Armadillo June 2, 2021 10:41

Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

Here's a brand new project that I cannot wait to watch unfold. I recently learned that longtime Phish lyricist / guitarist Steve Pollak (aka "The Dude of Life") was joining forces with Runaway Gin frontman Andy Greenberg. After digging a little further, I learned that Pollak and Greenberg had called on members of Doom Flamingo to help round out the new band known as Space Armadillo.

As a longtime Phish fan, I've always admired Pollak's lyrical contributions on songs such as "Fluffhead," "Suzy Greenberg," "Run Like an Antelope," "Dinner & A Movie," and "Slave to the Traffic Light." In addition, I've really enjoyed watching Andy's musical career blossom through Phish tribute Runaway Gin over the past decade. 

About two weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to hop on a phone call with Steve and Andy to get the full scoop on the new band. You can catch their world premiere at The Charleston Pour House on Saturday, June 12th, and you can read the full transcript of our conversation below. 

Andy / Steve: It's a pleasure speaking with you guys today. Let's jump right into it. Space Armadillo. I'd love to hear how this project came to life.

Andy: Steve...you want to take this one?
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Steve: Andy and I have been friends on Phish tour for years. We're always meeting in different parts of the country and having a great time. More recently, we decided to make some music together and see what happens. It's pretty exciting.
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Right on. So, this is brand new project for you guys. It will also feature Stu (White) and Ross (Bogan) from Doom Flamingo. Who's going to be playing bass?
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Andy: This is going to be Steve's buddy, Charlie, and you guys have been playing together for a long time, yeah?
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Steve: Charlie is my partner in crime, musically. We've been playing together for over 11 years. His full name is Charles de Saint Phalle.
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You guys obviously have a long history of playing music with different projects over the years. I'm sure it's exciting to start fresh with something brand new. How long has Space Armadillo been in the works? Will you be playing new original material?
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Andy: I think Steve and I first started talking about this probably about a month ago. Right?
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Steve: About a month ago, yeah.
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Andy: Something like that. We were trying to figure out if it was something that we could make happen. Steve lives up in New York, and Charlie is up there as well. Ross, Stu, and I are down here in Charleston, so the big obstacle, initially, was can we get a date that will work for all of us. If we could do that, then we can make this thing go. We were looking at a few dates, and eventually, a date just clicked.
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It all came together. This was only about a week ago. Since then, we've been getting things rolling. Figuring out exactly what we want to do. We talked before about what type of music we wanted to play. Steve and I had a brainstorming session or two to conceptualize the whole thing. I think that once the gig came into fruition, we've just been getting more and more excited about doing it.
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I think the original idea was to take a lot of material from Steve's prolific catalog. He's written quite a bit over the years. Ross, Stu, and I are very interested in playing some of that material with Steve. I'm really excited about doing some collaborative stuff. I think we are all musically similar, but there are a lot of different things that we can bring to the table.
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Ross is a very synthy player, and then Stu is a super funky drummer. Steve is very influenced by The Dead with his original style of writing. I'm not as familiar with Charlie's background, but I know he's a super funky bass player. I think what we're gonna end up creating is something very, very original.
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It seems like everyone is leaning, at this point, to doing a lot of original material. I'm sure we're going to have some covers as well. I'm super excited about the originals, in particular, because I think it's going to be a very unique sound that doesn't really have a direct precedent.
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Love hearing all of this, Andy.
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Steve: The more that we've been thinking about it, the more excited I am about it. I think that the different styles of the musicians are going to parlay into an amazing chemistry. Something brand new. This is the kind of situation where it's fun because we're taking a musical risk, but I've found that the greatest victories often come from taking that risk. It's an exciting undertaking, for sure.
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I would imagine so. So Steve, I'm familiar with your work with Phish over the years. The first thing that came to mind when I heard "Space Armadillo" was your former band "Space Antelope."
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Steve: So, the original name of a band that Trey (Anastasio) had in boarding school was Space Antelope. We were students at The Taft School in Watertown, Connecticut. That's where I met Trey. We had this band called Space Antelope. We would play right after dinner. The boys were all dressed in coat and tie. The girls had their dresses on, and usually, there would be a school chaplain talking about rules or morals.
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One night, we came out and played. The student body was really thrilled to have something other than boring crap going on. We were very popular from the start, even though we weren't that talented. It went over really well. Then, about a week later, another group of kids in our grade who had zero musical talent, billed themselves as Space Armadillo. So when Andy and I were tossing around different band names, I thought, "How awesome would it be if we could turn Space Armadillo into a legendary rock band?"
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That would be truly incredible.
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Andy: (laughs) Steve told me this story, and we were going through a bunch of ideas for a band name. As soon as he told me the story, I was just like, "Yes...that's it." Space Armadillo...it's kind of like dogecoin. You know what I mean? Something that starts out almost like a joke or a spoof. We're making fun of this band that was making fun of their band, and now we're going to spin it into something legit, you know? Seems very apropos for the modern age.
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Steve: And then, after things start taking off, we're going to have armadillocoin instead of dogecoin. It's going to do amazingly well. I would invest right now in armadillocoin.
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Andy: I have tons already.
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You'll have to tell me how I can get in early on this.
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Andy: You can get it on Kucoin right now. It's 0.0000000 cents a coin right now(laughs).
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Well Steve, you and Trey played together in Space Antelope as teenagers. You went on to help write many of Phish's most popular songs. Tell me a little bit about the other musical projects you've been involved with over your career.
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Steve: After boarding school, Trey and I both went on to attend University of Vermont. That's where Phish got started. I was making quite a few appearances with them back in the early days. That was just an amazing period of time. From there, I don't even know where to begin. Somehow, that's been about 30 years. I've had many different bands over the years. I continue to work with Trey on Phish material, as well as Trey Anastasio Band material, as well. It's been an ongoing snowball effect. It keeps pickup up steam. Now, I'm busier and having more fun than ever. I'm riding that wave.
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That's so great to hear. I can only imagine what those early experiences were like as Phish was really taking off to that next level. It goes without saying that many of the songs you wrote have proven to be favorites for countless Phish fans over the years. So, thank you for all of your contributions. The Phish community is such a special thing to be a part of. It does not go unnoticed how much of an impact that you and Tom Marshall have had on all of it since day one.
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Steve: Thank you, brother. I appreciate that.
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Andy, you mentioned locking down a gig for Space Armadillo. What can people expect from the band now that things are official?
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Andy: Well, I think that initially, we're focusing on just this one show. We don't want to put the wagon in front of the horse, you know? I think that right now, from a conceptual standpoint, we're looking at music that is very danceable, but also has a hard edge to it. Really deep, existential lyrics, which Steve is obviously very well known for.
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Steve: Some of the lyrics might be deep and existential, and some of them might be shallow. So, it will be a combination of the deep with the shallow.
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Andy: It will be a very schizophrenic lyrical thing...
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Steve: I wouldn't say it's schizophrenic... (laughs)
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Andy: (laughs) Ok, sorry...bad word. It's going to be a very broad depth of lyrical content and themes. That wasn't really the question that you asked, but it's something that I've been thinking about a lot. In terms of what we're going to do with the project, we have a team of guys that we're going to be working with. We're really stoked about that. People that can help us develop the business side of the band. 
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We're super interested in playing festivals and additional shows. Each of us plays in multiple other projects, so we're not going to be dropping everything else, by any means. I think, with our other projects, we're going to find places where this will fit in. We'll be able to make magic happen on the road. I think we're about to start collaborating more on the songwriting side of things. 
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We should be laying down some actual tracks that people can hear. Those probably won't be available until a little ways after the gig, but once we get that whole thing rolling, I think this band will really have its own unique personality and flavor. If we're having a good time, I think we're all game to take it out whenever people want to go for a ride.
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Steve: And Jordan, just to piggyback on what Andy said...
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Andy: Armadilloback!
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Steve: (laughs) To armadilloback on what Andy said, (laughs) if you're looking to go out and have a great time, and you're ready to go out, dance your ass off, and have a lot of laughs, you're not going to be disappointed. We're planning on having a great time out there, while simultaneously, creating some great music. That's our goal.
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I can't think of a much better goal than that, man. Super exciting stuff all around. So, when is this big show announcement coming?
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Andy: We are going to announce tomorrow (May 20th) that we're playing our first show at The Charleston Pour House on Saturday, June 12th. We're all set up on Facebook and Instagram, so people can follow us there. We'll be working on an official website in the coming months, as well. We're going to have pre-sale codes so we can try and filter the tickets to our inner circle people. 
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We're playing the main stage, inside of the venue. The current capacity is only about 300. It's normally about 500. We want to make sure all of our closest people are able to get in there and attend the first show. It's gonna be fucking cool man. Once that drops, we'll just be digging into the music real hard.
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Steve: One more thing I want to add. This tour is being billed as "Space Armadillo: First World Tour," and it's one show in South Carolina. We are so economical that we don't have to tour to different states or countries. We're fitting an entire world tour into one single show. That's what's super exciting (laughs).
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Andy: (laughs) Each song is going to be a different country.
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Steve: Fasten your seatbelts!
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Absolutely. This has been an absolute pleasure, guys. As a longtime fan of both of yours, I can't tell you how excited I am to see this thing take off. I know there are many more people who will feel the same way after seeing this announcement.
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Steve: Thank you, Jordan!
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Andy: Thanks brother!
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10 Reasons Not To Miss Mempho Music Festival June 2, 2021 10:04

Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography

Words by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

It's hard to believe we're actually approaching a real festival season. The experience of living through a global pandemic can definitely put things into perspective. First and foremost, I am grateful to be alive. I'm also grateful for the health of my friends and family. There were certainly times when it felt like we would never get back to this point, yet here we are. 

As major national touring acts began confirming full capacity tours, the concept of going to a music festival began to feel like a real possibility. It didn't take long for Mempho Music Festival to confirm its return for a fourth year in Memphis, Tennessee. With artists such as Widespread Panic and The Avett Brothers headlining this year's festivities, it's safe to say that this may be Mempho's best year to date. 

As a method of burning the time and preparing for what's ahead, I put together a list of ten reasons why you just don't want to miss out on this festival. In addition, we will be giving away a pair of GA weekend passes to the festival in the weeks to come. If you'd like to enter the contest, simply head over to our Facebook and/or Instagram page for instructions on how to do so. 

Click Here: Purchase Tickets to Mempho Music Festival

1. Not one, but two nights of Widespread Panic. Need we say more?

  • Let's face it. This festival is in the heart of Panic country, and there is not a more prime candidate to headline multiple nights this year. The band's history in Memphis is well documented, and those who have attended any of Panic's past runs at Mud Island, Mid-South Coliseum, FedEx Forum, or even Beale Street Music Festival can attest to that. Something about performing in Tennessee always seems to bring out the best in the band, and if anyone understands the level of expectation for these four sets, it's these guys right here.

2. Billy Freakin' Strings: Is there a hotter artist on the planet right now?

  • Today's announcement confirmed the rumors that have been swirling over the past few months. Billy Strings is the latest addition to the lineup. While the majority of the music industry fell dormant over the past year, Billy Strings managed to take a meteoric rise in popularity. If you've had a chance to watch Billy and his band perform, it's really not surprising at all. Innovation is key with these guys, and what they've provided both musically and technologically has been nothing short of amazing. 
  • Could we see another collaboration between Billy and Widespread Panic? Time will tell whether the two will perform on the same night. We'll be keeping our fingers crossed for more of what was seen at the Ryman Auditorium in 2019. 

3. The Avett Brothers: Another phenomenal headliner.

  • How could we go any further without honing in on these guys? You'd be hard pressed to find anyone who has seen a less than stellar performance from The Avett Brothers. This band combines bluegrass, country, punk, pop melodies, folk, rock and roll, indie rock, honky tonk, and ragtime to produce a novel sound described by the San Francisco Chronicle as having the "heavy sadness of Townes Van Zandt, the light pop concision of Buddy Holly, the tuneful jangle of The Beatles, the raw energy of the Ramones." Their commercial success is well documented, and there's no doubt that they'll close out the weekend with some electric energy. 

4. This lineup offers a beautiful variety that any music fan can enjoy. 

  • It's a challenge to even begin keeping up with the amount of annual music festivals resurfacing this year. While many of the these lineups are designed to cater to a specific fan base, such as jam bands or bluegrass, Mempho steps outside the box. While there's certainly some jam over the weekend, major national acts such as Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Black PumasMoon TaxiAndy Frasco & The UN, & Christone "Kingfish" Ingram make for an immense amount of variety from top to bottom. 

5. Radians Amphitheater at Memphis Botanical Gardens: A truly beautiful venue. 

  • For over 20 years, the Memphis Botanic Garden has been host to world-class musicians and artistic performances through the Live at the Garden concert series, Summer Symphony, and Wolf at the Garden among many other events. Recently, the concert venue partnered with local company Radians, Inc., becoming the new Radians Amphitheater. The amphitheater, located in the heart of Memphis, has been voted Best Memphis Event and Best Place To See Live Music in Memphis by The Commercial Appeal and the Memphis Flyer and will now be the new home for Mempho Music Festival. 

    Memphis Botanic Garden features 30 specialty gardens over 96 acres in the heart of Memphis, Tennessee. It is also home to the W.C. Paul Arboretum which boasts more than 170 species of trees. Beyond being an urban oasis for the Mid-south, the Garden offers year-round educational programming for adults and youth, art exhibitions, and community events

6. This VIP experience will be tough to beat.

  • Did you know that Mempho is offering an exclusive VIP experience? Check out what this package includes here, and head over to the festival's official website for further details: Dedicated VIP entry, complimentary VIP parking, dedicated VIP lounge with comfortable furniture, $100 in Mempho Bucks, special VIP merch area and on-demand Mempho t-shirt printing, catered hors doeuvres throughout the day, exclusive VIP food options, private bar, private (and air-conditioned) restrooms, dedicated viewing area in front of main stage, and free WiFi + charging stations.

7. The Vendors: Delicious options from local favorites and out of town must-haves.

  • Mempho is a well rounded immersive experience not only with music, but with food and beverage as well. Choices range from the city’s famous barbecue, to exotic food trucks and gourmet cuisine prepared by the area’s finest chefs and restaurateurs. It will definitely be worth your time (and money) to get familiar with this year's vendor village. 

8. The Incendia Dome: Melding worlds of arts, engineering, & science.

  • According to the festival website, Incendia is a mobile, modular artistic installation and interactive event space designed to create a unique and awe-inspiring experience for all those who enter. The geodesic structure features a spellbinding propane flame effect across it's lofty ceilings, which provide light, heat, and wonderment to all those who dwell within.

    Incendia's essence lies within it's innovative design, which harnesses the chaotic nature of an ascending flame beneath an impenetrable ceiling to create an undulating, rippling, and downright enrapturing exothermic effect that projects light and heat upon those who dance below. The mystical pall cast by the enchanting plane of fire overhead facilitates an experience that cannot be adequately described to the objective bystander; it must be experienced to be understood.

9.  Zero Waste: This festival is committed.

  • Mempho also committed to the goal of zero waste. Their team team and brand partners demonstrate best in class environmental practices and stewardship with the goal of leaving a better place for the next generation. We find this to be as important as factor as any in this day and age. We're all in this thing together, and it's important to keep the big picture in mind. We should all appreciate Mempho's commitment to zero waste. 

10. We've been cooped up too long. The world is opening back up. It's time to treat yourself. 

  • It's probably been way too long since you've made it to a music festival. I'd be willing to bet it's been well over a year, even for those who make it a common practice. After the year of hell that we've all been through, we all deserve a weekend with music, friends, and lots of celebrating. If you're not already planning to attend Mempho Music Festival, hopefully this article has at least got you thinking a little more seriously about it. You might as well enter the ticket contest and see what happens!

Check out DittyTv's official 2019 recap of Mempho Music Festival here:


Manic Vision Shows Impressive Diversity With New Album 'No Change' May 31, 2021 16:56

Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography

Words by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

Birmingham-based five-piece Manic Vision has been making waves across the state in recent years, and their first full-length album is finally here. No Change is a culmination of over three years' work for founding members Andew Krist (guitar/vocals) and Hayes Laporte (bass), and the first studio effort to feature Benton Crane (keyboards), Aaron Kurz (guitar/vocals), and Carter Speidel (drums). After a positive experience working with Oneonta producer Brad White, the band called on their old friend for a unique "studio" experience to follow up. 
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“Well for one, it wasn’t a real studio. Brad White, the engineer that did our first EP, shut his studio down some time after we recorded Tired Eyes. We really liked him and his style though, so we figured we could just bring him in to help us record and album in our living room. It was a bold move, but I think he did a fantastic job. We really clicked on the new album in a way that frankly just didn’t happen on the first EP," said frontman Andrew Krist. 

Krist added, "I know that personally, I felt much more prepared in terms of coming into the studio (living room) and knowing what needed to get done, how things would be done, what parts would go where, etc. On Tired Eyes, I think we just kind of had an attitude of “eh we’ll figure that out in the studio”, which turned out to be a bad idea. Also, Benton, Carter, and Aaron weren’t around for Tired Eyes. They’re all super talented musicians and have great ears. It was nice to have them there to say, “Hey...maybe try this idea,” and it usually worked out pretty well.“

The album kicks off with a mellow, ambient original called "13th Street," which features some especially impressive slide work from Krist. Up next is a catchy, rocker called "Stumblin' Bob" that tells the story of an "interesting man," to say the least. One would be remiss not to mention Crane's organ work here. It's such a nice touch and perfectly placed. I can definitely see this one getting stuck in my head and coming back to it, which is always an endearing feature for any song. Bassist Hayes Laporte leads the way on "People In My Mind," which is just a jammy tune from start to finish. I'd expect this one to be a favorite in the live setting. It's a super danceable tune with plenty of room for stretching out some improvisation.

The fourth track, "Left, Right?" really caught my attention from the opening notes. Solid guitar playing and an especially tight beat from drummer Carter Speidel. Krist's vocals really define this band's sound, and the little things about his delivery are truly pleasing. Kurz leads the way with another catchy guitar intro on "Through The Window," while Krist adds some tasteful, funky licks. Kurz also takes lead vocals on this one, making way for a change of pace and an expanded sound. Multiple vocalists always make for a more intriguing band, and these guys certainly have it down. "People In My Mind" showcases a more bluesy side of the band and some scorching guitar work from Krist.

Kurz hops back on lead vocals for "Gin River," a more mellow tune with plenty of "sing-along" capability. Crane comes through in the clutch once again with some killer playing on the Wurlitzer. The band saves the title track, "No Change," for the eighth and final track, and you can't miss this one. The guitar work from Krist and Kurz is fantastic on this tune. The transitions are dynamic, and it's as strong of a chorus as you'll find on the album. 

“Recording No Change was really kind of funny in hindsight. I had played maybe one gig with the band before lockdown, so aside from some jamming/practicing, the 8-hour days we spent in our living room sweating, redoing takes, changing songs around and really just experimenting was how I settled in with everyone musically. It would have been bad if they had realized that I suck right as we set off to create this album. I’m really proud of how everything came together and how everyone shines," said Kurz.

To be completely honest, my knowledge of Manic Vision was very limited prior to listening to this album. Through the power of social media, I've grown familiar with their name and noticed them picking up steam over the past few years. Everything I've heard regarding their live performance has been very positive, but I just haven't had the right opportunity to see for myself. That being said, I couldn't be more impressed with what I hear. After multiple lineup changes, the band seems to have found its groove with Krist, Laporte, Kurz, Crane, and Speidel.

All eight tracks offered something different, while keeping me totally engaged. The "jam world" doesn't always produce stellar vocals, but I really enjoyed that aspect of this album. I'll be looking forward to catching my first Manic Vision show in 2021, and No Change will most definitely be in regular rotation moving forward. Below, you can find a few more quotes from the band which touch on this recent studio experience.

Stream Manic Vision's 'No Change' in its entirety here:

“I joined the band right before we started recording this album. At that point, it had been months of hardly leaving the house and playing music by myself. It felt great to be able to collaborate with the rest of the band and help put the finishing touches on these songs.”

-Benton Crane

“I remember at the beginning of COVID, we weren’t practicing for a while. That really sucked. Taking away gigs was one thing, but the fact that we couldn’t even get together and make music just really hurt. I guess it was a blessing in disguise, since most of the songs on the album were written in that time. But when we finally were able to get back together, I showed everyone all of these songs I had written, and they all just came to life. People were adding small changes that just made everything better. Finally, I suggested that we should just record an album in the living room that we had been playing in for the past six months. That really made it special. We weren’t doing anything but writing and recording for the longest time, and to see it all come together finally was just awesome.”

- Andrew Krist

“Live audio has always interested me. I started taking recording and engineering classes during college and have loved applying what I’ve learned to our band. I really enjoyed the recording process of both our EP and album. I felt as if we were all very hands on (especially when recording in our house) and we could shape the songs the way that we had envisioned them. We’ve started recording every live show and are hoping to release a live album sometime in the future. “

- Hayes Laporte

Album Artwork by Cy Simonton: Cymonton Design


Common Ground Shakedown Is Coming To Montgomery On July 24th May 24, 2021 13:09

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Artwork by Cy Simonton: Cymonton Design
Words by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
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These are the type of announcements that we just love to see. After nearly 15 months of lockdown, social distancing, and virtually no public gatherings, concert announcements are surfacing nearly every day. Since we began our mission back in 2014, the core focus has been bringing new and exciting live music events to Montgomery, Alabama. Over that six year span, a number of fellow music enthusiasts have stepped up to introduce new music-centered events in the capital city. The latest is Common Ground Shakedown, which will feature three amazing, Alabama-based bands at Union Station Train Shed on Saturday, July 24th.  
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Common Ground Shakedown is a music and food festival benefitting local non-profit Common Ground MontgomeryThrough the efforts of generous donors and community partners championing change, Common Ground Montgomery provides developmental programs, camps, and activities while connecting youth in west Montgomery, Alabama, with resources and mentors. The initial lineup announcement includes Birmingham bands The Mountain Grass Unit and T.U.B. (The UnKnamed Band)
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We recently caught up with event organizer, Carter Goodwyn, to learn more about this event and what attendees can expect from this first year event:
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  • "Growing up in Montgomery, I spent many weekends helping my father’s business, Goodwyn Building, help Common Ground with various projects, whether it was renovating a house or facilitating after school activities at the campus off Mobile Rd. I was in awe of Bryan Kelly and the work he and his team do in the community. It’s hard to spend any amount of time with him and not feel inspired to lend a hand."
  • "Attendees can expect hours of incredible music from great bands with roots in Alabama, along with great local food vendors, drinks, and raffles. As a music lover, I'm really excited to see all these bands play on the same stage. The Mountain Grass Unit is new to the scene, but shows a lot of promise. I’m a sucker for some bluegrass, and they do it very well. I’ve seen T.U.B. more times than I can remember, and it’s always an incredible show. And as for the headliner that will be announced on a later date - they rock!"

Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by clicking here. Make sure to follow Common Ground Music & Food Festival on Facebook and Instagram for all of the latest updates. Stay tuned to Live & Listen for future updates and an opportunity to win a pair of tickets to the event.

ABOUT THE BANDS

The Mountain Grass Unit

 

Photo by Jean Longuil Frank

The Mountain Grass Unit consists of three Birmingham teenage pickers, Drury Anderson (mandolin and vocals), Luke Black (acoustic guitar), and Sam Wilson (upright bass). The band plays bluegrass tunes, occasionally adding a bluegrass touch to country, jazz, funk, rock, and even metal.

T.U.B. (The UnKnamed Band)

Photo by Stephanie Jennings Photography

There is nothing like a Grateful Dead concert. For fans of the jam-band genre, truer words have never been spoken. In the current era of tribute bands and exact recreations, TUB was conceived as something different. The idea was simple: share the experience of musical exploration and improvisation that inspired the Grateful Dead with the current generation – but don’t limit the set lists to one band. TUB primarily focuses on the music of the Grateful Dead, Phish, and WSP, but will also flavor their sets with a nod to the Band, Steely Dan and other musically engaging artists.

TUB was formed in late Fall during 2010 when guitarist Brian Haynes reconnected with drummer Alan Eberhardt. Based on their shared love of the Grateful Dead, they were determined to build a band with set lists focused on improvisational music. Brian enlisted keyboardist Robert O’Neal, who then recommended Lee Amberson as vocalist for the “yet un-named” project. The line-up was solidified when Greg Staggs moved back to AL to become the band’s regular bassist in 2013. Although O'Neal left the band in the summer of 2019, the core four of TUB continue the journey with Matt Wiley in the keys chair.
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At each TUB show, a choice selection of tunes is played with the same attitude as a jazz artist might approach a standard or a classical performer might interpret a composition: the spirit of the original piece is respected while also being rediscovered by the passion and interaction between the musicians and the audience.
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Every show is unique in terms of the songs performed, the order they appear in, and the unlimited direction of the improvisations. This belief in the power of live music and the interplay between the energy of the fans and the band make each TUB show an unforgettable experience. True Phans and even casual listeners throughout the South are spreading the word: TUB shows are not to be missed
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Billy Strings Announce Major National Tour April 29, 2021 12:04

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Photo by Rylan Lewis: Rylewphoto
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Few acts have stormed into 2021 as hot as Billy Strings, and today's announcement only affirms there are no signs of slowing down. The "jamgrass" phenomenon just announced a 55-date nationwide tour, which kicks off with a two-night run in Syracuse, NY (July 29th - 30th). The tour includes a three-night Halloween run in Asheville, NC (October 29th - 31st), a four-night run in Atlanta, GA (December 9th - 12th), and concludes with a three-night New Year's run in Grand Rapids, MI (December 30th - January1st). See below for the official tour graphic and head over to band's official website for all of the latest details. 
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Mempho Music Festival Will Feature Two Nights of Widespread Panic April 28, 2021 12:00

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Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography 
Words by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
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This is the type of announcement we've all been waiting for. Live music sure seems to be creeping its way back into reality, and today's news from Mempho Music Festival is amongst the most encouraging we've heard in over a year. The fourth year event, which is held at Radians Amphitheater at Memphis (TN) Botanical Gardens, just announced the initial lineup for Friday, October 1st - Sunday, October 3rd.
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Headliners include Widespread Panic (two nights) and The Avett Brothers, with additional performances from Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Black Pumas, Lucinda Williams, Moon Taxi, Julian Baker, Waxahatchee, Christone "Kingfish" Ingram, Andy Frasco & The U.N., Will Hoge, Southern Avenue, Liz Brasher, The City Champs, and Dirty Streets
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Early bird and Tier 1 weekend passes for the festival are already sold out prior to the lineup announcement. With the anticipated excitement surrounding this festival and its performers, we encourage those who plan to attend to go ahead and purchase your tickets while supplies last. Make sure to stay tuned for future lineup additions, as well as an opportunity to win a pair of weekend passes via Live & Listen. 
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For all of the latest updates on Mempho Music Festival, make sure to follow them on Facebook and Instagram. You can click here to visit the official ticketing page. 
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Video Premiere: Freekbass "Why Do I (Keep Falling In Love With You)?" April 28, 2021 07:57

Press release via Freekbass

Freekbass and Sky White release a video for their new single, "Why Do I (Keep Falling In Love With You)?", streaming now. Scroll to the end of article to watch the world premiere of the video today.

Freekbass had just gotten a new Rickenbacker bass, and to get the classic Rick-tone, he used a pick to create the driving bassline on this recording, a first for Freekbass. Once the groove was created, he called on Sky White, his bandmate, and simultaneous-member of Fozy Shazam, who added synth and piano. White wrote and recorded the lyrics, choosing the MXR Talkbox for the vocal treatment. Freek then added vocoder for additional vocals on top of White's parts, for a syn-thany of layers.

"Why Do I (Keep Falling in Love With You)? is about giving away parts of yourself until nothing is left," White explains about the lyrics. "We explore that by presenting the lyrics through Talkbox and vocoder to come off as not quite human." The resulting sound has the feel of a love-sick robot, which was also the inspiration for the music video. 

"The video concept is simple. Lonely astronaut-robots, looking for love," Freek says. "The iphone-mouth-over thing was Angie, the director's idea, and super clever, I thought. It really worked well with the track and will be a cool time capsule-thing one day, when we no longer carry around phones and just use the implanted microchips in our retina's."

And while playing with a pick was one milestone for Freek, a face-to-face video shoot represented another. "After over a year of long-distance creating, it was so nice to shoot this video with Sky and I being in the same room. Since we are both vaccinated, we were like - Hey?! Come on over! Let's do this!"

"I think this is the first track I've ever recorded Talkbox on, too," said White. While he was familiar with using Talkbox for live shows, he has never used it in the studio.

Watch the premiere of "Why Do I (Keep Falling In Love With You)?' here:

 


Winston Ramble Makes Strong Statement With New EP 'See It Through' April 9, 2021 14:40

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Words by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
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The past year has presented immeasurable challenges for bands across the globe, and Birmingham's Winston Ramble is no exception. With the outbreak of COVID-19 causing a global pandemic, the world would quickly change, and no one would feel the effects more than that of the music industry. While concerts and music festivals came to a screeching halt, musicians were forced to take a step back and reevaluate their creative outlook. Live streams became the new norm, with the hope that music fans would also adjust and be willing to make online donations in order to keep their favorite bands alive. 
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Here we are thirteen months later, and slowly but surely, the concept of live music (with actual fans in attendance) is making its way back. If there is one positive that has come out all of this madness, it is the amount of time that musicians have found to write new, original material. It's safe to say that fans can expect an onslaught of new releases in 2021, and we're already seeing that theory prove to be true. 
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Winston Ramble has been a staple of the Alabama music scene since releasing their debut self-titled album in 2016. The band's popularity has expanded far beyond their home base of Birmingham, and they have continued to build a notable fanbase across the southeast. While a handful of singles have been released since 2016, fans like myself have been itching for a fresh collection of Ramble originals. Just a few weeks ago, the band delivered exactly that with an incredible five-song EP titled 'See It Through'. 
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The EP starts off with a warm, catchy tune called "Feel It," which embodies every quality of the band that fans have come to expect. Justin Oliver leads the way with some beautiful work on the mandolin, and frontman Drew Benefield's one-of-a-kind, raspy vocals are in full effect from the get-go. This marks the band's first studio effort with new lead guitarist Taylor Goodwin, and he and Oliver couldn't possibly compliment each other any better than they do here. 
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The band slows things down a bit with "Some Folks Say," which definitely has somewhat of a ballad feel to it. Once again, Oliver and Goodwin join forces to create a beautifully harmonic vibe for what is surely one of the more blissful tunes in the Ramble catalog. Goodwin's blistering guitar solo will prove to be a highlight for any and all future live performances. 
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Listeners will need to prepare and buckle up for the EP's title track, "See It Through." Oliver sends the band into high gear right away, and the rhythm section of Coty West (drums) and Max Chubb (bass) set the tone for an absolute rocker. This band has always done a fantastic job of leading their audience into a dancing frenzy, and this tune may be the best example to date. "See It Through" will no doubt be a highlight in the live setting, with Oliver and Goodwin dueling it out in epic fashion. 
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One common thread of any great band is their ability to take a cover and make it their own, while making sure to respect the integrity of the song. Winston Ramble has shown their ability to accomplish this time and time again, whether it be Grateful Dead, Alice In Chains, Jason Isbell, or even Blind Melon. While they have mastered countless covers, I honestly believe they have reached the peak with this studio take on Al Green's "I'm a Ram." It's almost as if Benefield was born to take on these vocals. While Oliver is an absolute beast on the mandolin, he's equally as dangerous with the harmonica. It adds the perfect touch to an already flawless cover, and I've found myself listening to this one on repeat many times in the past few weeks. There is no doubt that Green would be proud of this effort. 
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The final track on See it Through is titled "Ain't What It Seems," and while Benefield has delivered some fantastic lyrical efforts in the past, these are undoubtedly amongst his best yet. I believe that this is a tune that just about anyone can relate to on many levels. This particular line summarizes many of life's challenges in a clever fashion: "Ain't always the path of least resistance that takes you where you wanna be. Maybe that place off in the distance ain't got any grass that's green, and it ain't what it all would seem." West and Chubb once again provide a powerfully dynamic rhythm/beat for yet another Ramble classic. 
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The Alabama music scene continues to thrive with an impressive variety of bands across the musical spectrum, and Winston Ramble is absolutely amongst the head of the pack. While fans waited patiently for this release, I feel confident that I can confirm the band exceeded all expectations. The addition of Goodwin on lead guitar has only proven to raise the bar for these boys from Winston County. This is as unique of a band as you'll find in any region of the country, and the sky is truly the limit. With the world of music beginning to open back up, you can expect big things from Winston Ramble in the years to come. 
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Stream the new EP in it's entirety via Spotify here:
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All Things Adam Deitch: One of America's Most Intriguing Drummers April 9, 2021 12:08

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Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
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Believe it or not, we have now passed the one year anniversary of the entire world being put on pause. In March of 2020, life as we know it changed in a way that we never could have expected. As cases of COVID-19 began to sweep across America, we were suddenly given strict orders to stay at home and avoid public interaction at all costs.
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While so many industries were seriously affected from this very moment, none felt the wrath of this global pandemic more than the world of live music. When you're expected to avoid crowds and maintain a six foot distance from others at all times, concerts are nearly impossible. Music venues, bars, and restaurants were the first to be shut down, and many are still waiting to reopen their doors a year later.
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As we look on the past year, we're catching up with a number of our favorite musicians to learn more about their COVID journey. I've been a fan of both Lettuce and Break Science for at least a decade now, so it was only fitting to find a way to include virtuoso drummer Adam Deitch in this interview series. Check out the full conversation below, and make sure to follow both bands on Facebook and Instagram for all of their latest updates in 2021.
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Let's kick this off with some general background info. What initially led you towards the drum kit?
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Adam: The drum thing started because my great uncle, my father's uncle, was a big band drummer in the 30s and 40s. He played with a bunch of big bands, and he had his own gig, where he wrote and arranged all of the music for his group in New York City. He was the first drummer in my family. He inspired my dad to be a drummer. My dad went to Berklee College of Music, where he met my mom, and then they had me. That's where the drummer thing comes from. 
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Very cool. So, both of your parents went to Berklee?
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Adam: Both of them went to Berklee, and they met there. They're both professional drummers, teachers, and college professors.
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Wow. That's so cool. I knew a little bit about your Dad, but I didn't realize your Mom was also a drummer. Sounds like you were thrown into it early on.
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Adam: Oh yeah. From two years old and on, it was just drum sets and having fun on the kit.
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That's amazing. So, I'm guessing once you got a little older and into your teenage years, you were on the fast track towards pursuing this as a career.
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Adam: Yeah. First, I was sitting in with their band. My dad also plays the keyboards, so they could be in a group together. They were a duo, and they played all over the tri-state area. I would sit in with them on percussion, and then later, drums. Then I was eventually old enough to play with people my own age and even older people. I was in a bunch of bands from elementary school all the way up to high school. I met the Lettuce guys when I was 16 at a summer thing at Berklee. That's really when the band started.
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Gotcha. So, I was recently listening to Eric Krasno's podcast with Joe Russo. He mentioned that you guys had the same teacher at some point as teenagers. Can you elaborate on that?
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Adam: Yep. Once I was 13 or 14, my parents couldn't really teach me anymore. I was getting headstrong, and I needed to learn outside of the house, you know? Frank was my first teacher. I had been with him for a year or two, and one day, Joe is there. We had never met, and we were both 13 or 14 years old. Our teacher felt like we should know each other, so we played a little for each other that day, and we've been friends ever since. 
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That's such a cool thing that you linked up at such a young age, and here you both are leading the way so many years later.
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Adam: Thanks so much man. We've always inspired each other. I'm a big fan of his. He comes from this John Bonham type of place. He loves those big, open drums. Then he made his way into the Grateful Dead world and brought some of that raw, Bonham power into the Dead thing. That's why they're so big now. He puts that extra amount of electricity into it. In a way, he added a lot to that song book. I love Joe. He's been a great friend for a long time. 
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You're absolutely right about that. You mentioned getting linked up with the other Lettuce guys when you were 16. Tell me about that project coming to life.
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Adam: At age 16, we were all unsure what we were going to do. We all really helped each other. Through that, it's the basis of our bond both as human beings and musicians. Being each other's cheerleaders and supporters. We started playing as a five piece: me, Kraz, Schmeens, Zoidis, and Jesus. It just felt right. Kraz had the background in music business. He was able to get us some dorm gigs. Then some more gigs followed. The band started getting some exposure and playing around.
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Kraz joined Soulive, and the rest of us started doing freelance work for other artists. After a while, Kraz started having Lettuce open up for Soulive, which is why Soulive is so important to the Lettuce legacy. You know what I mean?
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Absolutely. That makes sense, because I was always curious about Lettuce's early years. I knew you guys got started in the early 90s, but Krasno was super active with Soulive during that time as well. It wasn't until a little later on that I was hearing as much about Lettuce. What was the band's activity level like during those early years?
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Adam: It was very minimal. We would do a few college gigs here and there. Little things like that. It was pretty minimal. It wasn't until probably 2003 or 2004 that we were like, "Wait a minute. This is a serious thing. We need to really regroup and do this." That's basically how it went down.
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Very cool. You mentioned doing some freelance work for other artists early on. Can you elaborate on that?
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Adam: My first big tour was The Average White Band. They're a very famous funk band from the 70s. They brought me around the world. I toured with them for three years. I got to open up for Earth, Wind, & Fire, Ohio Players, Stevie Wonder, Chaka Kahn, to name a few. That was a huge learning experience. From there, Kraz recommended me for John Scofield's band. He set up a dinner, and Sco wanted a drummer to take on tour. Kind of following the path of what he did with Medeski, Marin, & Wood and with Soulive. That's really where my career started to bubble. 
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I can imagine. What an incredible gig. I had forgotten that you toured with Scofield. 
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Adam: Yeah man. I did three years and three records with him, and we got nominated for a Grammy on the first record. It was a life changer.
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Wow. What an experience. At what point did you link up with Pretty Lights? Did that lead to the formation of Break Science?
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Adam: Break Science was going on first. Actually, it was probably around the same time. We both started around 2007-2008. Derek (Pretty Lights) and I had some mutual friends who recommended me for his thing. I thought it would be a good way for Break Science to link up with him. It all worked out, and we became his live band. We were one of the few live bands in that EDM world. That was a major thing, and it also introduced Lettuce to a whole new generation of people that had never heard of us. 
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That makes sense. And this was around 2008-2009?
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Adam: It was probably 2010 when this went down. 
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Gotcha. I vividly remember all of this happening as I was finishing college.
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Adam: Yeah...by the time I was playing with him in 2010-2011, he was playing really big places. It was an experience that really helped out everything I was doing in life.
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I can imagine. Well one of the main things I wanted to cover in this interview was the experience of this past year. As a professional musician, I know your life was turned upside down as the reality of a global pandemic set in last year.  I was curious to know where you were when this happened, and how you and your bandmates have managed to make it through to this point.
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Adam: We were in Europe. We had just done the best tour ever. We'd been all over Europe in the tour bus. I knew when we had to skip Italy that this shit was serious. Then Trump imposed the ban on returning to the U.S., and we had to get back before it was official. We got back just in time, and then all of us just stopped in our tracks. We had to figure out what to do with our time. For me, it was just write, create Lettuce tunes, create Break Science songs, and just have an output of creativity, you know?
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Over the course of the last year, is writing what you would credit towards keeping you inspired and sane throughout the last year?
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Adam: Absolutely. The only reason I didn't lose by gourd is because I was writing almost every day. That's what kept me going, and that's what will keep me going until I'm back on the road. 
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I saw that both Lettuce and Break Science recently played their first shows in quite some time, right?
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Adam: Yeah man. Lettuce and Break Science both played Cervantes in Denver just a few weeks ago. With Lettuce, we spent five days in the studio recording all of the new songs, then we streamed two shows from Cervantes. Then, a week later, I had two more shows with Break Science.
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Man...I'm sure those were an exciting couple of weeks.
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Adam: Oh yeah. I definitely cried happy tears. Absolutely. 
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And we can expect a new Lettuce album coming up at some point?
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Adam: Yeah, we recorded a bunch of tunes. We're feeling really good about it. It's our best work yet. It still has to be mixed. We'll probably get back in to do that in April. Then it will be mastered. We'll get it out after that. 
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What can people expect from you guys moving forward this year?
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Adam: We just got our first festival gig at Suwannee Rising. He's got this great, socially distanced thing out there. I believe it's in early April. We have some other things coming in, and if management feels that they are doing it correctly with proper distancing, then we will do it. If not, we'll pass and wait for the next opportunity.
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Absolutely. I'm sure it's exciting to have some gigs on the horizon. I know the fans share in that sentiment. Y'all's music brings so much joy and happiness to so many people. It will be worth the wait. I appreciate you taking some time to chat with me. I'll be looking forward to the next opportunity to see both Lettuce and Break Science. 
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Adam: I appreciate you saying that. Thanks for doing this Jordan!
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Phoning It In From The Cellar: A Conversation With Keller Williams March 14, 2021 17:53

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Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography
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Believe it or not, we are fast approaching the one year anniversary of the entire world being put on pause. In March of 2020, life as we know it changed in a way that we never could have expected. As cases of COVID-19 began to sweep across America, we were suddenly given strict orders to stay at home and avoid public interaction at all costs.
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While so many industries were seriously affected from this very moment, none felt the wrath of this global pandemic more than the world of live music. When you're expected to avoid crowds and maintain a six foot distance from others at all times, concerts are nearly impossible. Music venues, bars, and restaurants were the first to be shut down, and many are still waiting to reopen their doors a year later.
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As we look on the past year, we're catching up with a number of our favorite musicians to learn more about their COVID journey. I've been fortunate enough to call myself a Keller Williams fan for twenty years now, so it was only fitting to continue this interview series with the mad scientist himself. Check out the full conversation below, and make sure to tune into Keller's latest "studio release," Cell, which is now available on all major streaming outlets. And for those wondering where they can catch Keller in 2021, simply head over to his official website.
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I appreciate you taking the time to chat today, Keller. So, you're down in Florida this week, right?
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Keller: Correct. I'm playing down in St. Petersburg on Friday, and then Del Ray Beach on Sunday.
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These will be outdoor, socially distanced shows?
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Keller: Absolutely. This is all outside with reduced capacity and table seating. We're taking the whole thing very, very seriously and trying to create an experience while being as safe as possible. 
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That's great to hear. We're all keeping our fingers crossed for more progress. I'm much more encouraged as these vaccines continue to roll out. 
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Keller: Absolutely. I am as well.
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Well I know you're a Fredericksbug, VA guy. I was curious to know a little more about your musical background, and what led you to pursuing a career in music?
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Keller: Well, I guess it all started with Hee Haw. Roy Clark and Buck Owen's pickin' and a grinnin'. It was an old TV show. I remember watching as a toddler. I was probably three or four. I remember watching the guys play guitar, and I would pretend to play with a tennis racket. I finally got a little starter guitar. I'm right-handed, but with no strap, as a little kid, I kind of held the neck with the right hand, so I could pretend to play it.
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When I was about ten, and I actually took my first lesson, they were like, "Well, we need to string your guitar differently, or you need to turn it around." From there, they were teaching me scales and the basic learning tools of guitar. I was on the baseball team and swim team at that point, and I kind of left it for a while. Then when I was about fourteen, someone showed me "Smoke on the Water." I kind of went with that, and later on, another friend showed me the basic cowboy chords. Everything you can do on the first couple of frets. The C's, D's, E's, G's, and things like that. 
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It turns out that once I had G, C, and D, I could play so many songs off the radio. I think at age 16, I had my first paid gig doing just that. Sitting on a stool playing covers during happy hour for dinner and tips. I did that a few times. This was 1986, I guess. I moved on to college at Virginia Wesleyan and played in a few bands. One band in particular stayed together for a little bit. Everyone had day jobs, and everyone wanted to put our gig money towards making a record. I had to put the money towards rent and bills. 
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I did have a few random jobs. I worked for a temporary construction agency. I would show up in the morning, and they sent me out to do grunt work that other construction workers didn't want to do. One in particular was taking a piece of cinder block, smashing it, and then taking a piece of the smashed cinder block and scraping mortar out of the cracks of walls of a school being built. Eight hours in long pants, boots, and a hard hat in the middle of the Virginia summer. 
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Back then, minimum wage was maybe $3.50 an hour. It might have been hard enough work that I was paid $4.50 an hour. After sitting on a stool playing covers for two hours and making as much as I did for eight hours of scraping mortar, that's kind of what led me to pursue this unrealistic career of being paid to sing and make up songs. 
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Skip ahead to about 1992, that's when I gave up on school and ideas of "real jobs." I was totally focused on making money playing music. Around that time, there was a lot of Mondays in Fredericksburg, Tuesday/Wedesnday in Virginia Beach, Thursday night somewhere else, maybe Richmond. On the weekends, I'd try to open up for bigger bands as a solo act. It's pretty much all of the gigs that my band was getting. Once we split up, I could go back to those venues and get a solo gig for the same amount of money, which was about $250. 
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I was raking it in, you know? It just kind of went from there. I guess my style kind of came about from those gigs. Those were a dude in the corner of a restaurant. Move the tables around. I'd bring in my little PA, and I would play. These were places that people weren't coming to see live music, but there just happened to be live music there. No one was really paying attention, so after a while, I stopped paying attention to them. I was focusing on this music, and out of that came my style, I guess.
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I had a lot of influences, the obvious being the Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia, and Bob Weir. Their styles of rhythm and lead, and well as Phil Lesh's obscure bass lines, and of course the improvisation. There was also Michael Hedges, who had a huge influence on me. I was probably about eighteen when I got turned onto him. I'd just gotten into the Grateful Dead and experimenting with all kinds of things. 
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Along comes Michael Hedges, who is this solo acoustic guitarist, and he's up there demanding the stage of the audience. His tuning and playing style all hit me. Mostly, it was the way he would do cover songs. He would do them in different tunings, different keys, and make them his own while staying true to the original. I took a lot of that from him as well. That's kind of the long shot there. 
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That's interesting. I wasn't aware of Michael Hedges. Was he one to incorporate multiple instruments as well? When did you start to tap in the world of looping?
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Keller: Right. Well, that came from hours and hours of playing in places where people weren't paying attention. I needed a different avenue to make it more interesting for myself. So, without being able to afford humans to do it...there's nothing more expensive than human beings. Their pay, food, lodging, gas, and all of that. There was no way I could afford a band, but I needed more musically. That's kind of where the looping came in. It basically started with voice and guitar. I think I incorporated the bass in maybe '99? Once the bass is in that loop, and the air started to move, people started to dance and pay more attention. Then in 2000-2001, I actually started selling tickets and playing places where people came to see the music. 
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Very cool. So, at this point you're well established in Virigina. I know you ultimately made your way out to Colorado and linked up with The String Cheese Incident. I really got thrown into both of y'all's music around 2002. Tell me a little about that experience and going out on the road with those guys.
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Keller: Yeah...String Cheese was originally more of an acoustic four-piece. They're obviously a six-piece powerhouse now. When I first met them, it was Keith Moseley on electric bass, Bill Nershi on acoustic guitar, Mike Kang on acoustic mandolin and fiddle, and Michael Travis on drums and percussion. Really what got me from the get-go was Michael Travis playing kick drum and snare with one foot and hand, while playing hi-hat and percussion with the other. This was all at the same time, like a two person beat that was always happening. 
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I guess this was in a basement in Telluride. They were playing an after show for the Telluride Bluegrass Festival of 1995. I had just moved out to Colorado. I was 25 years old with no real address. I saw them for the first time, and I had a few gigs lined up, but I would go see them at different mountain bars. I saw them play three or four times before I actually met them, which was in a small bar in Colorado Springs. I met Keith first, then Travis next.
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The next year, I was living in Steamboat Springs, and String Cheese was playing a free show in the town park there, maybe opening for Maceo Parker. I was doing a Wednesday night gig across the street, and we had met briefly. By the end of the night. I had everyone plugged in to my little PA on a stick. That was really cool, and I think it was maybe spring of 1997 that I did a tour with them. We started on the West Coast and made our way out east.
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That was my first trip to the West Coast. My first gig out west was the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco. I'll never forget that. As a kid, I always wanted to play the West Coast and California specifically. 
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Watch Keller Williams perform "Best Feeling" with The String Cheese Incident here:
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So was it shortly after that tour that the idea came to take them into the studio and record the Breathe album?
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Keller: Right. Yeah, so when was the Breathe album recorded again? I know it was released in '99, but I think we recorded it at the end of '98. I'm not sure. But yeah, we had played together on stage several times. I would sit in for encores. They're always really generous with their opening acts. We did that a lot, and we were really comfortable. I remember sending them all of the songs on a cassette tape that I recorded in my motor home that was plugged into campground power. 
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I remember this super low hum that went throughout the whole tape. Somehow, they learned all of the songs from that. I think we spent a week in the Colorado Sound Studio outside of Denver. We put that thing out, and that was just such a cool experience working with those guys. I think we might have played all of the songs together at the same time, and maybe kept the drum track and kind of built it from there. That was an amazing experience, and even more amazing to play all of those songs at Red Rocks for the album's 20th anniversary. 
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Oh yeah. I remember watching the live stream of that set. Breathe and Laugh are both incredibly nostalgic albums for me. Those albums that stayed in the cd player when you got your driver's license. It's crazy to think about that being 20 years ago, but here we are.
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I know a lot has happened between now and then. You've had quite a few projects: The WMDs, More than a Little, and countless performances with Grateful Grass and Grateful Gospel. We don't have to go into detail on all of them, but I was curious to know more about the origin of Grateful Gospel. Was this project born through LOCKN' Festival?
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Keller: So, with More than a Little, when we first started, there were three members who were paid to play churches on Sunday. There was one guy who did two churches. So, the gospel element was kind of in place. I was using these amazing players and teaching them my weird, funky songs. They would incorporate what they've learned playing gospel, which is amazing. It's very different from any other group of musicians that I've played with. 
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Their way to pay attention, improvise, and put chords and harmonies together was amazing. So, with More than a Little, the gospel element was already there. I got on the bill at LOCKN', and I think I played with the Keels on the first year. We were struggling to get confirmed on the bill again, so we put together this idea for Sunday morning gospel and Grateful Dead tunes. 
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LOCKN' is very Grateful Dead oriented, you know? Pete Shapiro has a huge connection with the band. He definitely focuses on that type of vibe. That's where it went from there. They allowed me to do the three days of Grateful Grass at 11AM on this little stage in the woods. I felt that three sets of Grateful Grass was maybe a little too much. I had this band that was steeped in gospel. Maybe I could teach them some of these obvious spiritual songs that Jerry and the Dead played and incorporate it into the morning gospel. It just kind of took off from there, you know? 
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Watch Keller Williams' Grateful Gospel perform "Mighty High" at LOCKN' 2015 here:
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I know it has quickly become one of the highlights of the year for so many people. I've been fortunate enough to see Grateful Gospel once and Grateful Grass a few times. I look forward to more of those sets.
 
Keller: Well, thank you so much.
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Before we wrap this up, I wanted to touch on what this last year has been like for you specifically. We're coming up on the one-year mark of everything shutting down. I wanted to see if you could tell me about what was happening and where you were as the reality starting setting in last year.
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Keller: Yeah, it's been an interesting year, to say the least. I was on the road getting ready to play Memphis, Little Rock, and Oklahoma City. It was a Thursday, Friday, Saturday run. I think it was March 12th, and I had just finished soundcheck. My management team (Madison House) and booking agency (Paradigm), the wonderful people who take care of me, were getting pressure to cancel the show. I suggested we check with the other venues we were playing that weekend. The folks in Little Rock and Oklahoma City were like, "Fuck it. Come on!" So, I talked everyone into letting me play the Memphis show on Thursday, and I was back home by 4:00PM the next day. So, March 12th in Memphis was the last gig.
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Those first couple of weeks, I didn't take it very well. I was definitely concerned about my financial future. I didn't have much of a backup plan for making money. Now, if I had my fingers chopped off, I have insurance. (laughs). I'd be good for a couple of years. But this is something totally different. There was a lot of anger and a lot of brush clearing with a machete. Making a path that I've been wanting to make for forever. I made a path down to the river, and I got into fishing. Never really caught anything. I didn't have a whole lot of other hobbies.
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There were a whole lot of weird, interesting ideas going off in my head. By that time, I was looking to the future and had to embrace the live streaming idea. We got on it pretty quick, and we were able to establish this really interesting community called "The Cellar Dwellers." I'm very fortunate to have a large basement with all of my show posters, and there is a great vibe to it. I was able to start up pretty quickly. Doing a very basic, one microphone / one camera type of thing. I incorporated taking a bunch of requests. It's done on StageIt.com, which is a streaming service where you pay $5 to see the show, and you can tip more if you want.
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Everyone was doing Facebook live, which I respect, but it's all free, and you can choose to tip if you want. After a few months of that, I think people just stop tipping. I would imagine, after doing it for months and months, it becomes difficult. But, you know, we did this thing in the basement, and people from all over the country came for every show. People would meet up online on Wednesday nights. We hit it hard at first. We ended up going with Wednesday nights at 9:00PM EST. I think we've now done 62 episodes. It's an amazing thing. 
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That, in itself, helped me play songs to their entirety. If I'm not in front of an audience, or no one's listening, I'll play a song and stop in the middle. That's not good. You can really get lazy like that, and that whole time, there is nowhere to go. I'm out on the back porch late at night, improvising with different tunings. I came up with a whole bunch of those and sent them to this guy named Bobby West, who is a DJ/producer out of Denver. He goes by the name Erothyme. He took all of these tracks, ran them through a system, created these songs, and out comes this record called Cell. All of my tracks, which were guitar, piano, vibraphone, and vocal, were recorded on my cellphone. 
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I wasn't going anywhere. There weren't any available studios. This was the pandemic quarantine shutdown. So, I just recorded everything on my cellphone. I'd record the vocals in a closet, so they couldn't hear the air conditioning or the kids screaming. I was really surprised by the quality of the product when it finally came out. A lot of people don't know that unless you tell them. You can tell with the guitar. It sounds like there is not a quality microphone on the guitar. The vocals, I thought, were just like normal studio vocals. I recorded them on a voice memo.
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That is innovation at its finest. 
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Keller: My joke is that I'm very proud of that album, but I literally phoned it in.
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I love that. I'm sure there will be some more Cellar streams to come. I saw just today that Suwannee Rising announced a socially distanced festival today. It seems like things are certainly heading in the right direction with vaccine distribution. The light at the end of the tunnel doesn't seem so far away.
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Keller: I agree. I'm actually playing down there at the end of this month. It's a spring fest / golf cart / drive-in type thing. They're pulling it off. I'm doing a solo set and a set with Travis Book from The Infamous Stringdusters on bass.
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Man, I know that's got to be exciting. You're one of the last legit concerts I saw in late December of 2019. Can't wait for the next opportunity, whenever that may be. Thanks so much, once again, for your time today. 
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Keller: Absolutely. This has been really enjoyable. I appreciate you hanging with me all these years, Jordan.
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Listen to Keller Williams' new album, Cell, via Spotify here:
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Funk You Announces 10th Anniversary Tour Dates March 12, 2021 13:21

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Photo via Funk You 
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Georgia-based funk outfit Funk You will celebrate a decade of making music together with a brief run of shows across the Southeast U.S. scheduled for April and early May.

Announced earlier this week, the seven-date run of spring performances begins on April 16th at Victory North in Savannah, GA, and will continue with scheduled stops at the Salvage Station in Asheville, NC on April 17th; Music at Meyer Park Series in Gulf Shores, AL on April 22nd (free show); Callanwolde Fine Arts Center in Atlanta, GA on April 24th; Charleston Pourhouse in Charleston, SC on April 30th which includes both early and late shows; Heist Brewery and Barrel Arts in Charlotte, NC on May 7th; and wrapping with a show at The Society Garden in Macon, GA on May 8th.

The tour’s announcement notes that all venues along the tour will adhere to state and local COVID-19 guidelines.

We caught up with guitarist Evan Miller to learn a little more about the band's 10-year journey, as well as the challenges that the pandemic has presented for nationally touring acts over the past year:

"Its crazy to think about. It honestly doesn’t even feel like its been that long. I can remember thinking about starting a funk band after seeing Lettuce for the first time at Bear Ceek in November of 2010. Funk You played their first show in Dec of that year. Looking back on the days that we were getting started is always fun, even though we had no idea what we were doing. We started out playing around Georgia in 2011 and that grew regionally into touring most of the country. I think we all share the same feeling of accomplishment after so many years of hard work."

"It was definitely hard to see all the momentum we had worked hard on building just come to a complete stop. We stayed positive and dedicated a bunch of time at Prana Recording Studio in Lilburn, GA and Sneaker Thief Studio in Athens, GA. The time off allowed us to record a ton of music, with some of that energy going into recording live streams. Be on the look out for a special release coming soon."

"This past year also taught us a lot about the other side of being in a band, that are just as important as going out and playing shows. We focused on building a stronger online presence, as well as putting more attention into our merchandise. We are very thankful for the people that have supported us throughout the past year with their contributions. It’s exciting to finally have some shows on the calendar. They are all reduced capacity, socially distanced events and we can’t wait to see everyone."

Purchase Tickets to Funk You's 10th Anniversary Tour


Catching Up With Kyle Hollingsworth of The String Cheese Incident March 4, 2021 22:35

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Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
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Believe it or not, we are fast approaching the one year anniversary of the entire world being put on pause. In March of 2020, life as we know it changed in a way that we never could have expected. As cases of COVID-19 began to sweep across America, we were suddenly given strict orders to stay at home and avoid public interaction at all costs.
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While so many industries were seriously affected from this very moment, none felt the wrath of this global pandemic more than the world of live music. When you're expected to avoid crowds and maintain a six foot distance from others at all times, concerts are nearly impossible. Music venues, bars, and restaurants were the first to be shut down, and many are still waiting to reopen their doors a year later.
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As we look on the past year, we're catching up with a number of our favorite musicians to learn more about their COVID journey. I've been fortunate enough to call myself a fan of The String Cheese Incident for twenty years now, so it was only fitting to kick off this interview series with keyboardist Kyle Hollingsworth. Check out the full conversation below, and make sure to tune into Kyle's live streams from Boulder Theatre on Sunday, March 7th!
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Well Kyle, it's great to have a few minutes to speak with you today. I typically always start these interviews off with some history and background info. Tell me a little bit about how this journey started back in Baltimore.
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Kyle: Sure. So, Baltimore...essentially, we're below the Mason-Dixon Line. We're kind of in the South, but not quite. I can relate to the community, and those sticky summer nights where it's so hot you just have to keep the fans on. I lived right by the water. I would go downtown to the inner harbor and see music when I could. At that point, everything was 21 and up. I'd stand outside some of the club and listen to some of the bands coming through. Who would those bands have been? It may have been a little early for ARU and Spin Doctors. Maybe it was around that time, but I'd go listen outside of the door. 
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I also started studying at that point. I wanted to be a rock and roll guy. I grew up listening to music. I was a child actor for a little while, but I was also a bit nervous when it came to auditions. So, I was said "Forget that. What else can I do to be on stage?" I knew I could practice piano forever, so studied as much as I could. I realized that I needed more chops, so I went to college and studied jazz piano in Baltimore.
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I was then finally old enough to start playing the clubs I would visit when I was younger. It was awesome and just so much fun. We weren't old enough to drink yet, probably 19 or 20, but we'd get ushered in. My first band was called Black Friday. There was a bit of a punk scene in Baltimore and DC at that time. I wasn't that into punk, but I liked the edge that it brought. It was loud and had a lot of energy. Black Friday had some of those punk elements while also being highly improvisational. 
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So, that band did pretty well. We'd get to play the clubs, but we couldn't hang out because of our age. We had a good following though, so everyone would still come see us. We just had to dip out the back door after. We worked through that, and that's how I got started. At that point, my brother was really into the Grateful Dead, so I listened to a lot of those tapes with Brent Mydland on keys. Some of The Doors stuff for sure. Then there was all the stuff in the pop world, like The Cars. At some point, I discovered The Talking Heads. They came out with "Burning Down the House," and I was just like, "Wow, that's so cool!" That led me to some of the more trippy albums like Remain in Light
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At some point, I was probably 23 or 24, and I'd kind of done the Baltimore thing. I decided I was going to move to Colorado and see what's happening there. I originally went out there to be a forest ranger. I quickly realized I was a little better at playing music, so I put my focus there. I played with local bands like Lakewood Sunshine and Durt, who ended up opening for The String Cheese Incident. I sat in with String Cheese, and I've been sitting in ever since (laughs).
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At that point, I'm assuming the band was just Billy (Nershi), (Michael) Travis, Keith (Moseley), and (Michael) Kang?
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Kyle: Yes. They were just newly formed. I joined the band in 1998, and they had just started a few years priors. The band had relocated from the Crestview/Telluride area to Boulder. There was definitely a buzz about them, but they were still pretty new to the scene. It was mainly Dave Watts, the drummer from The Motet. He and I were playing in a band together, and Kang came and sat in. He invited me to come check out his band (String Cheese). I was like, "What kind of name is that? Who names a band The String Cheese Incident. I don't know if I can join a band with a name like that." (laughs)
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I think everyone who has ever heard the band name has had that initial reaction...to some extent. (laughs)
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Kyle: Exactly. 
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Well things must have really taken off quickly from there. You guys released the Carnival album in 1999, right?
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Kyle: Right. So yeah, I believe I joined in 1998. They had only been a band for a handful of years at this point. Carnival '99 came out, and the funny thing about that time is that I was listening to Bela Fleck's Flight of the Cosmic Hippo and Spin Doctors, and the HORDE Tour comes around. HORDE stood for "horizons of rock developing everywhere." Bela was on that, and he had a great keyboard player named Hank Levy in that band. By Carnival '99, we were going to festivals and meeting these people that I thought I could be playing with. I had this vision of wanting to play with these guys. It moved very quickly, as you said. All of the sudden, by 1999, I was actually hanging out with people, even the Grateful Dead guys, and I'm just like, "What?! I guess this was the right choice. Forget Forestry!" (laughs).
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Watch Kyle Hollingsworth's new cover of Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" here:
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Wow. Yeah, I can imagine how exciting and even overwhelming that was at the time. You were clearly a major reason why the band continued to progress. Not to get too off topic here, but I wanted to at least touch on the band's relationship with Keller Williams. I basically discovered Cheese and Keller around the same time (2001-2002), and I know the roots run deep there. How did that relationship ultimately come together? 
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Kyle: Yeah, so Keller is a Virginia guy, and I think he had seen the band before. He may have been a fan, to some degree. I'm trying to think of the very first person he met. Maybe Keith or Travis? One of those guys. It's just one of those things. We've known him for so long. It's hard to remember the origin story. I'm curious to hear what he would have to say. He would follow us around, and at some point, we saw how well he played and wrote, so we invited him to start opening for us. He started opening all of our shows all over the country. It just started growing and growing for him. He has great ambition, so he asked us to record an album (Breathe) with him. He brought us all of the songs with all of his tricky chord changes, and it was really a whole lot of fun.
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I remember seeing him sit in on Evolution DVD and have always loved the Breathe album. It was a really neat thing to witness the camaraderie between you guys as a young music fan. One other random question I have is regarding Robert Hunter. I know you had a chance to do some writing with him at some point. Can you elaborate on that?
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Kyle: Yes I did. I did a tune called "45th of November" with him. So, you know, there's always been that West Coast vs. East Coast thing. Not like the whole hip hop rap battle, but when you think of the east coast, you think of Phish and bands that are a little more rockin'. You think Umphrey's...well at least east of the Mississippi. There was also moe. from Buffalo. We were kind of this other group that was a little more exploratory and ok with open spaces. Willing to take dives into beautiful sounds and a little less heavy.
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So, The Grateful Dead was in a similar camp to us.  We were more West Coast in that way. We started connecting with those guys, almost immediately. Mountain Girl, John Barlow, and all of those folks were kind of gravitating to us being a similar vibe to the Dead. This is somewhere during the 1999-2002 era. So then, through that, Barlow started writing some stuff with Kang and Billy. Robert (Hunter) had reached out, because he had heard about us, and asked if anyone wanted to write. I immediately put my hand up and said, "I got this." 
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I definitely tried to write this song in a way that the Grateful Dead would've written something to kind of connect with him. It has this middle section that's kind of like "The Other One," so he was all about it. The connection was very unique in the fact that it was all cyber. I met him once backstage at The Greek Theatre, I think. He asked me to send him an mp3, so I did, and he sent me back the lyrics. I said, "Well, I can try to sing like this. This word is a little weird. Can I change it?" He said, "No. All of the words are perfect. You just need to change how you're singing it." (laughs)
 
So I said, "Ok. That's fair. You've written tons of incredible songs." He then said "How about this? At 1:30, you sing this line. Then at 1:36, you sing you can sing the next word." It was very specific, and I got it, but it wasn't a collab in the traditional sense of going back and forth.
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I guess that's not entirely shocking to hear. "45th of November" was released on One Step Closer in 2005, right?
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Kyle: Correct.
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Listen to The String Cheese Incident's "45th of November" here:
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Let's shift our focus and touch on what this past year has been like for you. You guys grind so hard with touring and festivals throughout the year. Ironically, you released a new EP called 2020 about a month before the world shut down. What was the realization like for you as life as we know it was put on hold? 
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Kyle: That was my fourth solo release. In hindsight, I probably should've called it 2021. So, yeah...I had a whole bunch of things on the books. I had dates with my band. I had some stuff with Everyone Orchestra. The funny thing is that we had just hit 25 years of String Cheese. We stopped in December of 2019, because we wanted to take a break for six months. I was already prepared for at least a little bit of a break. I planned on taking classical piano lessons and doing all kinds of personal stuff during my break.
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To answer your question though, for the first few months, I was still being really creative. I was finding ways to get to my musical outlet through virtual lessons and even picking up a different instrument. I was playing the ukulele. Just diving into some growing things. I thought about doing some music for television. As it wore on, the spark started dimming by June or so. You see Trey (Anastasio) putting out like three albums. I was like, "Well, that could've been me if I kept my spirit up" (laughs). Towards the end, I was kind of getting dragged down a bit. It's gotten better in recent months, but for a while, I was down about it. 
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The cool thing is that about halfway through the summer, my solo band started playing some outdoor shows. The performance alone can really invigorate you. Never mind that there are only 150 people there versus 3000 people. You're just psyched to be playing on stage in front of people. That really gave me a breath of new life. But yeah, it was a tricky time to release a new album. I know there are thousands of other musicians who released albums in 2020. It was supposed to be a great year. 2020! New birth! 
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No kidding. I know it's a little trickier when it comes to String Cheese. You've got such a massive, dedicated fan base. It's damn near impossible to pull off a socially distanced show with a band of this magnitude, and why would you even try if it could put anyone in harm's way? How has the band continued to stay engaged and interact with each other?
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Kyle: Two things about that. The funny thing is that my solo band has been able to play many of the venues String Cheese would normally play, like Dillon Amphitheatre. It's really ironic that I've gotten to play so many of these same venues, with the exception of Red Rocks, to about hundred people with my band. As far as the connection, I've been able to consistently get together with Keith and Jason, especially over the last few months. We've been doing some writing, and Jason is a really great teacher. We've been working on rhythm lessons and improvisational stuff. Kang lives in California, and Travis is in upstate New York. It's been challenging to get everyone in one place.
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Everyone's been immersed in their family life, and of course traveling on planes has been a risk. Billy has been spending most of his time in Hawaii. So, whoever is around locally has been getting together. Jason has a place here in Boulder, and he visits about once a month. Keith and I get together every week. We're actually getting together tomorrow. It's more about writing, but also just hanging out and being a brother again. 
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With String Cheese, I think the big thing for us, which is difficult for me at times, we want to make sure what we come out with is the best possible quality. We were a little hesitant to play random drive-ins. We might play one, but we want to make sure the social distancing isn't an awkward thing for everyone. We'd rather not go to Red Rocks and play for 150 people. We'd rather wait til Red Rocks can be at least half full, so we can really bring the energy and the spirit. So for me, there have been times where I was ready to get out and do it. Collectively, we would rather wait until we can do it right, which I respect. 
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Stream Kyle Hollingsworth's EP 2020 here:
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As a fan, I respect that as well. I know there is tremendous pressure from the fans, as the band's touring schedule plays such a major role in so many people's lives. You guys have worked your asses off to get to this point in your career. We have to respect the decision you guys have made to wait this thing out and get back to it when things can be done right.
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Kyle: Ok, good. That's really great to hear you say, and it makes sense to me too. It's just a matter of time before we can all get together again. In the meantime, we're just doing everything we can to be prepared for that time.
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I almost forgot to ask: how's the brewing going? I'm guessing you've had plenty of time work on your other hobbies as well.
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Kyle: The funny thing is that I really haven't been brewing much at all. That doesn't mean I'm drinking less beer though. I did make one. I have a solo show coming up on Sunday, March 7th at The Boulder Theater. It's my first solo show since summer. Everyone will be able to tune into the stream. My birthday is this week, so it's my birthday show, and I decided to make a beer with ska. I wanted to go for a bit of an old school West Coast IPA. A lot of people are doing hazys right now, but I wanted to try something more traditional. Something with a dry hop, but also a little bit of bittering. 
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We'll see how it goes. Making beer and making music, you kind of jump in with both feet, and you're never quite sure how it's going to come out. The yeast is going to do what it's going to do, and then it's going to be great, or it's like the best solo you've ever taken, or the worst beer you've ever made. The point being that you should just go for it. It's a lot of fun. I'm going to try it tomorrow for my birthday. The idea was to have a beer that people could go to and watch the live streams. You go get your growler, join me, and I'll drink a beer with everyone online. It will be available for those who get to attend the show as well. 
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Amazing. Well, let me be the first to go ahead and say "Happy Birthday." I can't thank you enough for taking the time to chat with me today. I hope the Sunday shows make for a great birthday celebration, and I can't wait to finally get a chance to see you and the band play again before too long.
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Kyle: Thanks so much Jordan. My pleasure.
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