Gov't Mule Delivers Incredible 'Dark Side Of The Mule' Performance August 22, 2023 18:01
Words by Monica Dean
Photos by Craig Baird Photography
It’s way past curfew at Cadence Bank Amphitheatre at Chastain Park, but jam band legends Gov’t Mule are still playing to a sold-out crowd. The evening in Atlanta started late thanks to a southern summer downpour, but eventually, it let up and fans who waited it out got to experience the musical and visual journey known as "Dark Side of the Mule."
Gov’t Mule, fronted by former Allman Brothers guitarist and vocalist Warren Haynes, surprised fans at their 2008 Halloween show with a set of Pink Floyd covers, later released as a live album, Dark Side of the Mule. This year, for the 50th anniversary of Pink Floyd’s musical masterpiece, The Dark Side of the Moon, Haynes brings the Pink Floyd experience back on tour one last time.
The first set was devoted to Gov’t Mule originals and featured Haynes, drummer Matt Abts, keyboardist Danny Louis and new bassist Kevin Scott. Scott moved to Atlanta after listening to a Col. Bruce Hampton record he got at a flea market and eventually started playing with Col. Bruce, Jimmy Herring, John McLaughlin and others before joining Gov’t Mule in June. Scott is the perfect fit for Mule, and he proved it all night.
Mule played five songs from their first album and three songs from their twelfth studio album, Peace...Like A River, released in June. The band opened with a raucous "Mule," which featured a tease of Ronnie Hawkins' "Who Do You Love," and a prime opportunity for the band to feature Scott's incredible work on the bass. After playing “Peace I Need”, Hayes thanked the crowd and said, “That was a new song, this is another new song and then we’re going to play another new song” which raised loud cheers from fans. The second new song, “Dreaming Out Loud” again showcased Scott’s funky bass style and “Same as it Ever Was,” alternated velvety vocals and guitar from Haynes and keyboardist Louis, with a hard southern rock chorus before finishing as softly as it began.
You could feel the energy change for the second set as Gov’t Mule was joined by saxophonist Ron Holloway, keyboardist/guitarist Jackie Green and vocalists Machan Taylor and Sophia Ramos. The otherworldly sounds of Louis’ synthesizer slowly built into “Shine on you Crazy Diamond” as the Dark Side of the Mule logo was projected on the stage and Haynes stuck the first sustained chords. Holloway, who participated in the original Dark Side of the Mule in 2008, shined in the spotlight for a soulful sax performance which peaked in a display of green and blue laser beams. Pink Floyd pioneered the use of lasers on The Dark Side of the Moon tour, and the lighting team at Pulse Lighting (designer Preston Hoffman, touring crew Trevor Creany, Griff Collins, Justin Baker) perfectly recreated the visual immersive experience integral to a Pink Floyd show.
Speaking more than singing, Mule drummer Abts took over on “Have a Cigar,'' changing the lyrics to “Oh, by the way/Which one's the mule?”. Ramos and Taylor's soulful vocals were a highlight of the night, especially as they wailed “The Great Gig in the Sky”. “Us and Them” seemed to float lightly into the “Wind”. Scott switched bass guitars for “One of These Days'' and slapped a funky rhythm that was fun to watch. Haynes and Greene shared vocals on “Echoes” to finish the set.
Because of the rain delay, Gov’t Mule had already played 30 minutes past Chastain Park’s strict curfew, but Haynes walked back onstage and said “We would like to thank Chastain for giving us extra time so we could do our whole show” and finished the evening with the Pink Floyd essentials, “Comfortably Numb” and “Wish You Were Here.”
Dark Side of the Mule was a fantastic tribute. They played Pink Floyd in the most respectful way while still making it their own. It was much more than a concert, it was a complete musical and visual experience no fan should miss. The Dark Side of the Mule tour has one last stop in St. Augustine before Gov’t Mule returns to performing their original catalog of music through the end of the year.
Watch Gov't Mule performing Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb" in Atlanta:
Link to Zman’s recording of Gov't Mule in Atlanta on 08.12.23
Chastain Park Amphitheatre
Disc I Gov't Mule
01 Mule >
02 Who Do You Like >
04 Temporary Saint >
05 *Trane >
06 Peace I Need
07 Dreaming Out Loud
08 Same As It Ever Was >
Disc II #Dark Side Of The Mule
01 Shine On You Crazy Diamond Parts I-V >
02 Have A Cigar >
03 Speak To Me >
04 Breathe >
05 On The Run
06 Time >
07 Breathe Reprise >
08 The Great Gig In The Sky
Disc III #Dark Side Of The Mule
01 Money >
02 Us And Them >
03 Any Colour You Like >
04 Wind >
05 One Of These Days >
06 Wind >
07 Fearless >
08 Chant >
09 Wind >
10 Echoes Part II >
12 Wind >
13 Comfortably Numb
14 Warren Thank You!
15 Wish You Were Here
* With Norwegian Wood Tease At The 4:28 Mark
Warren Haynes - Guitar And Vocals
Jackie Greene - Keyboards, Guitar, And Vocals
Kevin Scott - Bass
Danny Louis - Keyboards And Vocals
Matt Abts - Drums And Vocals
Ron Holloway - Saxophone
Machan Taylor - Vocals
Sophia Ramos - Vocals
Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Evening Brings "Whole Lotta Love" To Atlanta August 18, 2023 01:05
Words by Monica Dean
Photos by Craig Baird Photography
Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Evening brought a “Whole Lotta Love” to Atlanta this past Saturday night. Sitting center stage behind a large, raised drum kit with a picture of his late father, Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham on the bass drum head, Bonham welcomed fans to Cadence Bank Amphitheatre at Chastain Park. This performance was one of many in direct support of Gov't Mule's 'Dark Side of the Mule' tour this summer.
Bonham and his band paid tribute to Led Zeppelin, going though the musical catalog of one the most legendary rock bands in the world. Telling stories throughout the night, he told fans “This is something I started 13 years ago to pay homage and respect to my father and the music of Led Zeppelin. We share the music. We are all fans here just like you are.”
James Dylan, who was discovered on YouTube by Bonham, channels the vocals of Robert Plant and delivers on all the wails and high notes. Dylan throws his energy into the crowd who throws it right back singing along to classics like “Over the Hills and Far Away”, “Ramble On”, and “Whole Lotta Love”. Jimmy Sakurai (lead guitar) has the sound and style of Jimmy Page so completely locked in that it might have you doing a double take. Dorian Heartsong (bass) and Alex Holliman (keyboards/guitar) complete the Led Zeppelin sound.
Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Evening was more than a standard tribute show. It is a way for Bonham to share his father with music fans and honor one of the most important bands in musical history. The love, passion, and pride is evident as Boham closes the show with the message, “Tell the one you're with you love them everyday".
Bonham and company will be touring through September. He will also be filling in for Kris Myers, drummer for Umphrey's McGee, at the ALL IN Music and Arts Festival in Indianapolis, Indiana, while Myers recovers from shoulder surgery. Bonham has previously played with Umphrey's McGee at both Red Rocks and Lockn’ Festival, covering songs like “Good Times, Bad Times” “Whole Lotta Love”, “Immigrant Song”, “Kashmir”, and” Ramble On”, so it's safe to expect some Led Zeppelin covers this go-round.
Watch Jason Bonham's LZE perform "Ramble On" in Atlanta [08.12.23]:
Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Evening
Chastain Park Amphitheatre
01 In The Light >
02 Good Times, Bad Times >
03 Jason Banter
04 Over The Hills And Far Away
05 Ramble On
06 What Is And What Should Never Be
07 Thank You
08 Immigrant Song >
09 Black Dog
10 Misty Mountain Hop
11 Whole Lotta Love
12 Rock And Roll
13 Band Introductions
Jimmy Sakurai - Guitar + Vocals
James Dylan - Vocals + Acoustic Guitar
Dorian Heartsong - Bass
Alex Holliman - Guitar + Keyboards
Jason Bonham - Drums + Vocals
Check below to listen to Zman’s recording of the show:
Here's Why We're Counting The Days 'Til Hulaween 2023 July 27, 2023 14:22
Words and Photos by Isom Morgan
In late October, The Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, FL will transform into an entity known as Hulaween. Hulaween has established itself as one of the premier annual music and arts festivals in the world. Celebrating its 10 year anniversary, festival organizers hit it out of the park with their lineup for 2023. The dynamic lineup showcases a diverse genre blending list of musical talent. Taking place October 26th – October 29th, this festival should be on your radar for must see festivals this year.
The headlining acts for the 10th annual Hulaween are phenomenal. One headliner in creating significant buzz in the music world on the date of the initial drop was Pretty Lights. After a 5 year hiatus, Pretty Lights announced his 27 date Soundship Spacesystem tour, with Hulaween being the only east coast festival on the tour. With all of Pretty Lights upcoming shows being sold out, this set will be a must see for those in attendance.
Host band The String Cheese Incident will of course keep the Hula tradition going and play three nights of music throughout the weekend. One of SCI’s performances will be a special themed “She-Bang” set on Saturday night. Trey Anastasio Band and Goose will perform back to back sets on the same night. Festival goers will certainly be anticipating a possible collaboration between the two bands that evening; considering their joint tour across the northeast in the fall of 2022. Other jamband headliners include Joe Russo’s Almost Dead and Les Claypool’s Fearless Flying Frog Brigade.
Electronic music lovers are in for a treat as Hulaween welcomes tech-house wizard John Summit, Grammy-nominated producer Elderbrook, house producer/vocalist Channel Tres (DJ set), and Big Wild to the stages as headliners. Filling in the hip-hop headlining spot is rapper/singer Smino. Mt. Joy will bring their unique indie-rock sound to round the list of headliners for this years Suwannee Hulaween.
Additional performers included in this year's lineup include the funky sounds of Lettuce, Maryland natives Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Kitchen Dwellers for the bluegrass lovers, Jennifer Hartswick Band and Eddie Roberts (formerly of The New Mastersounds) & The Lucky Strokes. DOMI & JD Beck may be one of the most intriguing and exciting acts on the bill. This young duo is as loaded with talent as any that you will find.
There are numerous acts supporting the electronic element of Hula, such as Manic Focus, BLOND:ISH, Gioli & Assia, Boogie T, Marvel Years, MZG, and Lab Group, just to name a few.
The 10th Annual Hulaween lineup has over 90 acts total covering an array of genres. The festival is also known for the way creators transform the lake located the middle of Suwannee Music Park into “Spirit Lake.” Spirit Lake is an immersive art experience that has proved to be one of the best on the festival scene. Artists, dancers, fire spinners, lighting designers, fire/metal crafters, aerialists, projector mappers, and other performers come from all around the world to help create a truly out of this world mind blowing art experience.
Suwannee Music park is as beautiful of a property as you can find, with the Suwannee River running right thru it. Draped with spanish moss in the trees and lush landscape throughout the park, it has proved itself to be the perfect venue for those who want camp and dance under stars all night long throughout the weekend. As we reflect back on past memories and begin to mentally prepare for the 10th year of Hula, there is simply no doubt that this will be the festival's strongest outing to date.
Check out the official Hulaween 2023 hype video here:
moe. Returns to Birmingham on Friday Night at Avondale Brewery July 18, 2023 21:34
Looking Back: Widespread Panic's Two Nights at Mempho Music Festival October 6, 2022 13:40
Words by Monica Dean
Photos by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography
Widespread Panic returned to Memphis,Tennessee last weekend to headline two nights of the Mempho Music Festival at the beautiful Memphis Botanic Gardens. Fans enjoyed the sunshine while listening to Adia Victoria, Bette Smith, Futurebirds, Jason Isbell, Fantastic Negrito, The Black Keys, Amy Lavere, Celise, Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio, Portugal The Man, Big Ass Truck, Elizabeth King, Allison Rusell, Bobby Rush, Wilco, Tank And The Bangas, and Widespread Panic on two stages.
Saturday night started off with JoJo Hermann pounding out "All Time Low" on his piano. Panic continued with a hefty "Rock" before slowing it down for "C. Brown," "You Should Be Glad," and "Junior." Grabbing the keys, John Bell took the crowd for a ride on his "Love Tractor". Duane Trucks and Sunny Ortiz drove the beat into "Wondering." Dave Schools led into a boogie-inducing "Walkin’ (For Your Love)". Herman took us back to his first show at the Georgia Theatre with "One Armed Steve" where he was kicked out of the venue because his picture was not on the poster with the rest of the band members.
The weather was perfect in Memphis for a stroll out the back porch with "Holden Oversoul" followed by a "Tallboy" to quench the crowd's thirst. Chuck Leavell, former keyboardist for The Allman Brothers Band, joined Herman at the keys for "Jessica" and dusted off a cover played only once before with Leavell in Atlanta in 2015, 264 shows ago. Leavell stayed on stage to share the vocals with Bell for The Rolling Stones' classic, "Can't Always Get What You Want". The one set show ended in a hat trick of covers with Jerry Joseph's "Climb to Safety".
A backwards hat JB walked onto the Mempho Music Festival stage on night two, a sure sign that things were about to get real. After a nod and a thank you to Wilco who came on before Panic, the set started off with Bloodkin's "Make Sense To Me," "Little Kin," and a "Machine" jam that slipped effortlessly into "Barstools & Dreamers." Bell then grabbed some Memphis BBQ sauce and Tennessee whiskey for a delicious "Ribs and Whiskey."
An exuberant Bobby Rush, blues musician, joined Widespread Panic onstage after playing earlier in the day. Rush played the harmonica and jumped around the stage to play "Gotta Have Money" with so much energy that he gained great big grins from Bell and Schools, before walking over for a little dueling guitar and harmonica with Jimmy Herring. The blues man stayed on stage as Schools dropped the baseline into a much anticipated "Bowlegged Woman" with Rush on harmonica. Bell served up "Thought Sausage" to feed the crowd's soul.
Hermann rolled right into a funky cover of “Ride Me High.” Widespread Panic continued to give fans more, more, more with a rambunctious “Fishwater." Continuing with the uninterrupted flow of music, Bell growled out the lyrics to a smoking “Red Hot Mama” and a scorching “Tie Your Shoes”. Finally taking a break, Bell grabbed his black guitar for a final cover of Vic Chesnutt’s “Protein Drink / Sewing Machine” to close out a fantastic weekend.
Widespread Panic returns to the fan favorite Riverside Theater in Milwaukee for three sold out nights October 21-23.
Setlists via PanicStream.com
Set: Makes Sense To Me, Little Kin, Machine > Barstools and Dreamers, Ribs and Whiskey, Gotta Have Money*, Bowlegged Woman*, Dyin’ Man, Thought Sausage > Ride Me High > Fishwater > Red Hot Mama > Tie Your Shoes > Honky Red, Protein Drink / Sewing Machine
* w/ Bobby Rush on vocals and harmonica
– ‘Gotta Have Money’ first time played (Bobby Rush)
– Entire show with Edie Jackson (ASL interpreter)
Makes Sense To Me, Lil Kin, Machine > Barstools and Dreamers, Ribs and Whiskey, Got To Have Money*+ > Bowlegged Woman*, Dyin' Man, Thought Sausage > JAM > Ride Me High > Fishwater > Red Hot Momma > Tie Your Shoes > Honky Red > Protein Drink / Sewing Machine
*Bobby Rush on vocals and harmonica
+ FTP... Bobby Rush
– Entire show with Edie Jackson (ASL interpreter)
Bird Dog Jubilee Preps for Late Night at Aisle 5 on October 1st September 21, 2022 09:00
How has this year shaped up for the band thus far?
Kyle Denis: Releasing our first full LP was a highlight. We put our whole heart into recording the songs and were able to polish arrangements to give our fans some surprises that differ from the live versions. Aside from our LP, we've been keeping busy on the road more than ever. From our debut in New Orleans all the way to Charleston, we have hit a stride with touring.
What has the focus of the band been since getting settled with the current lineup?
RJ Fyfe: Since going through a couple lineup changes over the years, and most recently during the pandemic we feel great about the current lineup. We are the most together we have ever been and that is really proving rewarding for us. I think that this lineup has certainly allowed us to explore different avenues while really achieving a big sound.
Aisle 5 seems to be home base for you guys. What is it about this venue that works so well for you guys?
RJ Fyfe: Aisle 5 is our home in Atlanta. No doubt about it. There are a ton of great venues in our city, but Aisle 5 is where we really feel comfortable. Some of our best shows have been in that room, and the staff are literally like family. Being able to fill a room with friends that have been to every show, or maybe their first show, is a really gratifying thing for us.
What's on the horizon for BDJ the rest of this year?
Iain Thomas: We’re back in the studio, putting the finishing touches on our next single so look out for that soon. It’s a ballad called "Stormy Seas." Plus, we have a lot more songs lined up to record. Along with a busy tour schedule which we are looking forward to adding to it, we are going to continue to hit venues around the southeast.
For those who might be catching their first BDJ show on October 1st, what can they expect from y'all's performance?
Iain Thomas: For people checking out their first BDJ show, you can expect it to be completely unique. As we do play Aisle 5 a couple times a year, we make a conscious effort to make each one of the home town shows completely different than the last. You can expect to hear original music, both new and old, with new covers each time.
Looking Ahead To This Year's Suwanee Hulaween Festivities September 15, 2022 11:33
Words by Isom Morgan
Photos by Isom Morgan Photography
In a just under two months from now, Suwannee Hulaween is returning home to Spirit of the Suwannee Music Parkin Live Oak, Florida on Thursday, October 27th thru Sunday, October 29th. Hulaween is a Halloween-themed festival nestled in the middle of the woods in northern Florida. This festival, which includes music, arts, and camping, is known for pulling musical talent from several different genres.
Ever since the first Hulaween back in 2013, the festival has stood out as one of the premier music events in the country. Back in early June, Hulaween organizers released a stellar lineup for the 9th edition of the festival. The lineup is stacked with national acts specializing in electronic, hip-hop, funk, jam, indie, and bluegrass. Suwannee Hulaween once again has hit it out of the park with their musical talent.
Headliners for this year consist of veteran Hulaweeners such as The String Cheese Incident (performing 3 nights), the jamtronica of STS9, funky jams from The Disco Biscuits, Portugal The Man, CloZeeand Sylvan Esso. Also making their Hulaween debut this year is RainbowKitten Surprise bringing their unique alternative rock indie sound, the diverse sound of Louis the Child, and the funky Fearless Flyers are amongst some of the other headliners on this year’s Hulaween lineup.
This year's Hulaween will also include live sets from several top-notch acts like: Lettuce, Cory Wong, Leftover Salmon, Franc Moody, Neil Frances, Twiddle, Lewis Del Mar, Circles Around The Sun, Manic Focus Live Band, Margo Price, Liquid Stranger, and The Main Squeeze, Maddy O’Neal, Toubab Krewe and many more.
Hulaween is once again allowing electronic music collectives to take place one of the stages.“Stage Takeovers” are hosted by Liquid Stranger’s Wakaan, Desert Hearts, and LP Giobbi’s FemmeHouse.These electronic collectives always prove to be a non-stop dance party in the meadows of Suwannee Music Park.Festival fans will also be in for a treat when Big Gigantic and NGHTMRE collab for the first time on stage as Gigantic NGHTMRE.
Suwannee Hulaween is also well known for it incredible art displays throughout the park, especially “Spirit Lake.”The perimeter of the lake is canvased with painters, sculptures, fire/metal workers, lighting designers, murals, and thespians prancing about.In the middle of the lake will be one of the most amazing light shows in the world in my humble opinion. There are also two stages surrounding the lake so you can immerse yourself in the sounds of your favorite bands while being visually stimulated by the fine eclectic arts around you. For the night owls, there is a silent disco that will keep you dancing well into the sunrise and beyond if your heart desires.
This festival is always at the top of my list every year for a must do.I highly recommend giving Suwannee Hulaween a chance if you have never been. Fans were so eager to get back this year, the blind sale sold out pretty much instantly.Tickets are still on sale to the public on Hulaween’s website (https://suwanneehulaween.com/passes).
Check out the official Hulaween 2022 hype video here:
Artikal Sound System
Circles Around The Sun
Desert Hearts (Mikey Lion, Lee Reynolds, Marbs, Porky)
Jauz (Off The Deep End set)
Kyle Hollingsworth Band
Lewis Del Mar
Liquid Stranger (Wakaan takeover)
Manic Focus (live band)
Mark Lettieri Group
Maya Jane Coles
Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway
Portugal. The Man
Rainbow Kitten Surprise
The Iceman Special
The Main Squeeze
The String Cheese Incident
Three Star Revival
Wednesday Night Titans
Hog Days Preview: An Interview with Sam Bush August 19, 2022 11:50
Photos via Sam Bush
Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
My hometown of Montgomery, Alabama is not traditionally known as a major hub for live music. Most of your local music fanatics would attest that you're typically going to be driving up I-65 to Birmingham or I-85 to Atlanta in order to catch your favorite bands on tour. When I decided to launch Live & Listen in 2014, this was a major source of motivation. You were starting to see a new wave of likeminded, progressive locals working together to bring new and exciting events to Montgomery, and that was something I wanted to be a part of.
Early on in 2017, I was introduced to a group of guys (Druids Charity Club) working to start an annual music and BBQ festival. It took no time at all to realize that the Druids team was serious about bringing something major to Montgomery. The event would ultimately be known as Hog Days of Summer, which raises thousands of dollars annually for pediatric cancer. They've successfully rounded up the River Region's top BBQ connoisseurs and a top notch event production company to produce one of Montgomery's most anticipated annual events at the Union Station Train Shed. The entire community seems to have embraced Hog Days from day one, which has been a beautiful process to watch unfold.
In just a few years, Hog Days has already featured the likes of Robert Earl Keen, North Mississippi Allstars, The Band of Heathens, and Jupiter Coyote. They've managed to outdo themselves once again this year, with a lineup featuring Sam Bush Band, Anders Osborne, Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears, Ally Venable Band, Ben Prestage, and Ms. Aretta Woodruff. The family-friendly festival is scheduled for Saturday, August 27th in downtown Montgomery.
In preparation for next weekend, we sat down with headliner Sam Bush earlier this week. Considered one of the originators of progressive bluegrass music, Bush has built one of the most built one of the most decorated resumes the genre has ever seen, including collaborations with Bela Fleck, Leon Russell, Garth Brooks, Emmylou Harris, Lyle Lovett, Jerry Douglas, and many more. See below for the full conversation and make sure to follow Sam on Facebook and Instagram for all of the latest updates.
Great to speak with you today, Sam. I usually start these interviews off with some basic history. I'd love to hear about how you got started as a musician and ultimately made your way to bluegrass?
Sam: Well, I grew up on a tobacco and cattle farm outside of Bowling Green, Kentucky. Our parents were music lovers. My father played the fiddle and a little bit of mandolin. My mother played the guitar. That led to two of my sisters and me getting interested in music. I started playing mandolin at age 11. Pretty quickly, my sisters had already started to sing folk music, so I started playing with them. I picked up the fiddle around age 13, and within a year, I was playing in a bluegrass band as the kid fiddler.
I grew up in household where music was greatly encouraged. Our parents didn't want us to have to work as hard as they did on the farm, and we didn't (laughs). I started playing guitar and bass in rock bands in high school. I played drums in the marching band, singing in the chorus, and playing bass violin in the school orchestra.
I also has the advantage of Nashville television in the 60s. I got to watch a lot of Grand Ole Opry performances and really watch how the musicians' hands worked. Plus, in the era of the Ed Sullivan Show, I saw all of the performances by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and. Jefferson Airplane. So, I got interested in rock and roll with all of the TV and radio that was going down at the time.
At age 18, when I got out of high school, I moved up to Louisville and started playing in a band called The Bluegrass Alliance. I did what we call "going to bluegrass college," and you play four sets a night / five nights a week. It really tightens up the band. That's kind of how I got into bluegrass. As a young mandolin player, the instrument itself kind of let me to bluegrass, because that's where the great mandolin players, like Bob Osborne and Bill Monroe, were.
I'm glad that you mentioned The Bluegrass Revival. Tell me a little bit about the formation of that band and how far you went with it.
Sam: We were four of the members of a five-piece band. That band was called The Bluegrass Alliance. When we came to a parting of the ways with our fiddle player, he owned the name of the band. So, basically, four of us quit and became The Bluegrass Revival in the fall of 1971. I was the only one who was in the band the entire time, which ended up being 18 years. I think that took us up to 1990. For our last show ever, we opened up on New Year's Eve (December 31st 1989) for The Grateful Dead at the Oakland Coliseum in California. So, that was a great way to do your last job, right?
Sam: After that, I played for five years with Emmylou Harris. I needed a break from band leading. I played in Emmylou's band, The Nash Ramblers, for five years. We won a Grammy in 1993 for Country Vocal Group of the Year. That was for an album we released called Live at The Ryman.
After playing with Emmy for five years, I did 86 shows with Bela Fleck & The Flecktones in 1995 or 1996. After learning more about singing and getting back into improvising with the Flecktones, I was ready to making my own records and having a band again.
That's incredible. So it was around 1995 or 1996 that Sam Bush Band got going?
Sam: Well, that's when I started making my own records and playing my own gigs again. I'm not sure when we officially had a full-time group. It was over 20 years ago. That's for sure. Chris Brown has been playing drums in the band for going on his 22nd year now.
Wow. Those are some serious accolades already by 1996. Touring with the likes of Leon Russell, Bela Fleck, and winning a Grammy with Emmylou Harris. I'm sure there was no shortage of inspiration.
Sam: I also spent some time playing with Lyle Lovett around that time. When you play with Lyle, you wear a suit and tie. I know how to do that too (laughs). My big thing is that I love to play with others. Even within my own group, it is my job to back them when they're soloing. I love to play rhythm. To lead well, you must support well. I learned that from Emmylou, Lyle, and Leon over the years.
I would imagine so. Well, let's talk a little more about the current state of the Sam Bush Band. Who's on the road with you these days?
Sam: Sure. In order of seniority, we have Chris Brown on drums. Next, we have Stephen Mougin on guitar and vocals. On bass, both acoustic and electric, is Todd Parks. Those guys have been around for a while. We also have Wes Corbett, who has been with the band for a few years, on banjo. Both Stephen and Wes, and me as well, many times will have switched instruments by the end of the show. We'll be playing electric instruments by the end of it. We have an electric side, as well as our bluegrass / newgrass side.
It sounds like you guys have an ever-evolving show up on stage.
Sam: Oh yeah. I've never been about what kind of music it is, as much as "Are we enjoying it?"
That's the way to do it. How has the year of 2022 shaped up for you guys thus far? Has it been a pretty heavy year of touring and festival plays? Any time in the studio?
Sam: We've had a pretty good amount of work this year. Of course, we're still in a pandemic, and we're being as cautious as we can. We're all trying to make our way as clearly as possible. 2022 has been a good year so far. We've played quite a few festivals. Earlier in the summer, we had a tour called The Bluegrass Happening, which was Bela Fleck & My Bluegrass Heart, The Jerry Douglas Band, and Sam Bush Band.
The three groups banded together for a tour than spanned about 10 dates in the midwest. This was right after the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. It's good because we have a few weeks here in August to regroup a little bit. By the time we come to Montgomery, we're back in the saddle. It's just great to be out playing. We have a good amount of work in September and October. If all goes according to schedule, I'm supposed to be having a new album come out in November. I'm looking forward to that.
It has to feel amazing to find that sense of normalcy again. We're obviously not out of the woods with COVID, but this year has certainly presented fewer challenges than the past two.
Sam: Well, let's face it. I was born in 1952, so that's how old I am. I've been wondering if I should consider not traveling as much anymore. When 2020 hit, I learned what it was like to be retired, and I found I wasn't ready for that. I'm not close to ready to retire. If anything, I think all of us in the music business, whether we knew it or not, we needed a reboot. It's a unique situation that we have, and I think many of us needed that reminder.
Totally agree with you there. It definitely puts things into perspective.
Well, before we wrap this up, I wanted to get your thoughts on the current state of bluegrass. Guys like you, Bela Fleck and The McCourys have about as strong of a grasp on this scene as anyone. When you look across the bluegrass spectrum, you have the longstanding jam grass acts like Yonder Mountain String Band, Leftover Salmon, and Yonder Mountain String Band. Then you have the rising stars like Billy Strings and Sierra Hull. What are your thoughts on where bluegrass stands in 2022?
Sam: The current state of bluegrass is really healthy. You still have Del McCoury, for instance. Del is kind of 2nd generation bluegrass himself, but as a man who played with Bill Monroe and everything, if you want to hear true bluegrass, go see Del McCoury. As you mentioned, you also have The Travelin' McCourys, that don't just want to play what their dad does. They play what you consider to be more "new grass," right?
One of the great things that is happening in bluegrass, and acoustic music in general, is the emergence of more great, female artists. The first few that come to my mind are of course Sierra Hull and Molly Tuttle. You also have The First Ladies of Bluegrass, which is Becky Buller, Alison Brown, and Missy Raines. Sierra and Molly are really making their own way now.
When you speak of Billy Strings, he's really drawing big audiences, and that only helps the rest of us. Billy's out there doing his own this, and one that I really love about him is that he strives to improve all the time. Bluegrass is in good hands, and it's really good for the world of bluegrass and acoustic music that Billy is doing so well right now. It only helps the rest of us.
I couldn't agree more. There is a very bright light on the bluegrass world right now. It's great to see so many younger acts making waves and putting their own spin on such an beautiful style of music.
Sam: It really is. You know, when I was a kid, there just weren't as many youngsters coming up playing bluegrass. Now, it's reached a whole new level, where kids are excited about it. I think it only gets better as we go along.
Love to hear that from you, Sam. I really appreciate your time this morning. I think I can speak for everyone involved with Hog Days when I say we are stoked to have you coming to Montgomery. There's going to be some amazing BBQ there, and we can't wait to see what you and the band have planned.
Sam: Thanks so much, Jordan. We're really excited to come play for y'all.
Deebs Days Countdown: An Interview with Alex Cape of Big Friendly Productions August 16, 2022 18:38
Photo via Big Friendly Productions
Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
Thanks for taking a few minutes to chat today, Alex. Let's start by talking a little history. How did you get started in the world of production, and what led you to start Big Friendly Productions and build it into the company it is today?
Alex: Well, I started the company in 2014. I was working at Zydeco for Layne (Flournoy), and I was finishing my two-year assistantship duties. I was trying to find a way to fit into the Birmingham music market. I had been running shows for Layne, and I'd seen that the production was a bit dated. There was definitely a need for someone to help out there without stepping on many toes.
I started by saving up a couple thousand dollars and buying a small setup that could work for a crowd of up to 250 people. That first year, all I did was weddings, tailgate parties for fraternities, and nothing much bigger than that. In year two, I doubled the rig and kept putting money back into it. In 2016, we bought our first line array PA system. In 2017, we bought our first video wall.
Then from there, we continued to grow. I put every penny that I could back into it until COVID hit. We had our share of COVID pivots, and fortunately, we landed here. I started managing bands in 2015, too. That's definitely a big part of our history. Winston Ramble was the first band that I started working with. We currently manage two acts, Winston Ramble and Trey Lewis. I played in a band in college. I ran all of our sound and booked most of our gigs. When Ramble asked me to work with them, I had that experience to build on. They were a really great band to get started with.
I couldn't agree more. They're such a great band. I know you have built on and provided production for just about every size show at this point. You've produced many of your own events. How did the idea for Deebs Days come about, and how did y'all ultimately bring it to life?
Alex: Deebs Days comes from wanting to produce our own festival. We've worked for a lot of really great promoters and some not-so-great promoters in the past. We wanted to take the experiences from those doing it the right way and avoid the pitfalls of what we've seen other promoters do in the past. The concept of us promoting our own shows was born out of COVID.
Promoters would book shows during COVID and cancel them a few days before for one reason or another. We decided that we'd put on shows with artists we believed in. We wanted to make decisions ourselves and put the artists and attendants first. A promoter is trying to make as much money in the middle as possible. We're in a unique position to not have to do that because we own our own production. We don't have to feed someone in the middle.
CBDB approached us about wanting to produce their own festival, and we told them we were looking to do the same thing. We decided after doing close to 100 shows together over the years, it would be a good fit to team up and try to produce our first festival.
Photo by Thomas Diasio
It seems like a perfect fit to me. I know both Big Friendly and CBDB have plenty of history with Avondale Brewery. Tell me a little about the decision to bring this to Avondale and some of the unique things y'all have in store for the weekend.
Alex: Avondale is definitely home base these days. The people at the top there really care about the concert experience, and everyone that works there feeds off that energy. They have welcomed us with open arms since 2019. In that time, we were helping with their local and regional shows. When COVID hit, we were some of the first in the country to start doing shows again. Our first one back was the "Live at Last" series with Winston Ramble & Little Raine Band in June 2020.
They were down to do safe, responsible shows. We couldn't afford to sit on the sidelines, but we also didn't want to be negligent. They came to us and proposed that we figure out a way to have safe, outdoor shows for ~500 socially distanced fans. We did that for a lot of COVID. They've always had our back and welcomed us.
They've been open to all of the crazy ideas we've had for Deebs Days. You want to bring in a second stage? No problem. You want to build a 40 foot castle? No problem. They're always down to be creative and do fun things.
I'm not surprised to hear that at all. It's got to be a huge plus to bring an event of this nature to a place where you have such strong relationships in place.
Alex: For sure. Coming off of The World Games, where we produced two stages (and were paid in full for it), we're definitely feeling very fortunate to be doing what we love. We just want to make people happy, really. All of the work and effort is 100% worth it when people are enjoying themselves and making memories. That's what we do it for.
Amazing. Well before we wrap this up, I wanted to see what your thoughts were on the future of this event. CBDB announced this would be their last show before they go on hiatus. I know you wouldn't want to speak for them, but do you see this as something to build on for the future?
Alex: Well, it's definitely not going to be our last festival. It's very much open ended. I was definitely bummed to hear about CBDB going on hiatus. In any capacity that we do another Birmingham festival, CBDB will absolutely be welcome. Whether or not they will want to be a part of it as a host again, we shall see. I'd say everything is open-ended at this point, and we want to make sure this weekend goes smoothly before making any additional plans.
That sounds like the smartest way to look at it. I know I speak for a lot of people when I say "thank you" for all of the effort you guys have put in. It will all be worth it, and I'm looking forward to an amazing experience.
Alex: Thanks so much, Jordan!
Widespread Panic Honors Michael Houser on Night One in Atlanta August 11, 2022 19:01
Words by Monica Dean
Photos by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography
“It’s our music” It comes from us, I don’t know anything else to say but that. We do it because it’s all we can do, pretty much” - Michael Houser
Widespread Panic celebrated the life of Michael Houser last night at the Fox Theater in Atlanta, Georgia on the 20th anniversary of the founding guitarist's death from pancreatic cancer. Audio from Houser’s interview with Billy Bob Thornton on the film “Live at the Georgia Theatre” played before the band took the stage. Balloons, traditionally staged overhead for New Years Eve, fell during the chorus of “Porch Song” to open the show.
After making sure everyone knew this celebration was about having a good time, John Bell, guitar/vocals, turned the key to start a rowdy “Love Tractor”. The crowd responded with an equally energetic few minutes of cheering and popping balloons. Paul Hoffman, Lighting Designer, did a beautiful job bringing the lights down low for “Little Lilly”. Jimmy Herring, guitarist, swam upstream in the dirtiest river for “Proving Ground.” The first set came to a close with “Papa’s Home”.
“Mercy” opened up the second set for the first time ever. Dave Schools, bassist, teased “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” at the end of “Mercy” before giving a little cough cough into Black Sabbath’s “Sweet Leaf”. The four Disco balls suspended from the Fox Theatre’s ceiling, usually to celebrate New Year’s Eve, were brilliantly lit for “Vacation”. As Bell sang “As panic grabbed my legs, you know it, pulled me in” the impact of Houser’s music was felt by fans. “Ain't Life Grand”, a Houser song about finding turning everyday life into something special, closed the second set.
The band returned for a three song encore with “Don't Want to Lose You” For the first time since 2017, “Galleon” was played before “Fishwater” with mini drums to end a show of all Houser era songs. As the band walked off stage, the audio track “Waiting for the Wind to Blow Down the Tree in My Back Yard”, a hidden track from the album, “Ain’t Life Grand”, played as a last, but not final, tribute to Houser.
Widespread Panic will finish a four night run at the Fox Theatre before heading out West to Napa, California on August 26.
Deebs Days Countdown: An Interview with Marcus White of The Shady Recruits August 3, 2022 14:18
Photo by Donna Winchester
Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
Great to speak with you for a few today, Marcus. We're here to talk about The Shady Recruits, but I know you've had quite the journey up to this point. Tell me about how you got started as a musician?
Marcus: I started playing drums at church when I was nine. Then, around age twelve, I started playing guitar and keys too. This was still at church. My mom was playing piano at the time, and I thought I could do a better job. She said to give it a try, so I did.
That's great man. And how did this ultimately lead you to your band mates in The Shady Recruits?
Marcus: I just kept playing and ended up winning a scholarship to a small school in Cleveland, TN. From there, I went on tour with a gospel group called EJM. When that was over, I moved back to Chattanooga and linked up with an up-and-coming band called Soul Mechanic.
This promoter in North Carolina named Ryan Williams, who we did gigs with previously, wanted us to do this show for him. We did that one and ended up getting a call to open up for The Marcus King Band. We became really good friends and the rest is history.
This seems is a super group, in a sense. Everyone involved has quite a few projects to balance, including multiple guys on tour with Marcus King Band. How do you go about scheduling for this band? How has the calendar shaped up so far this year?
Marcus: Honestly, I have no idea. We really try to stick to planning out months in advance, communication, and being respectful of each others time. Like you said, half of the band is also on the road with Marcus King, so we have to plan accordingly.
Just a few weeks ago, the Recruits released their first full-length album, Incognito. This follows your five-song EP, Shady, which released in March of 2020. Tell me about Incognito and how things have progressed since the first release
Marcus: We are on tour right now. We had a great time at Peach Fest. The new album was produced by our good friend Marcus King. That has been huge in terms of building the audience. Super proud of the work we did on the album.
The Shady Recruits have grown accustomed to playing the major festival stages. One of the next up is Avondale Brewing Co. in Birmingham for CBDB's Deebs Days. Will this be the band's first play in Birmingham? What can those attending expect from you guys?
Marcus: Yeah man, this will be the band's first time in Birmingham, but certainly not my first. People can expect a lot of fun. It's gonna be a breath of fresh air. I think we bring something different and unique to this line up. We're known for having a lot of fun, and while we take each show very seriously, we don't take ourselves too seriously.
Beyond this summer, how is the final quarter of 2022 looking for the band? What are you guys looking ahead to? Where is the focus as you guys look to the future?
Marcus: The future is bright man. We're gonna start working on the next album. We're booking more gigs and traveling to new markets that we haven't played. Just trying to grow and keep this train moving.
Right on. Love to hear it. Thanks so much for your time today, Marcus. Look forward to seeing you in Birmingham in a few weeks.
Marcus: Can't wait man. Thank you!
Checking In With Runaway Gin's Andy Greenberg July 25, 2022 01:31
Photo by Cloud Bobby Productions
Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
The world's most active Phish tribute, Runaway Gin, has certainly proved they are worthy of that title in 2022. Over the past year, they have welcomed two new band members in Tim Khayat (bass) and Sean Bing (drums). One might think that could slow a band down by a step or two, but the Gin train hasn't missed a beat. Their Winter, Spring, and Summer tours have taken them from Jacksonville (FL) to New York City (NY) and just about everywhere in between.
Taking on the title of an official "tribute act" isn't a decision to take lightly. If you know anything about Phish, their wildly expansive catalog, the incredibly detailed compositions, and their focus on unique improvisation during every show, you know Runaway Gin has their hands full. Recreating what Trey, Mike, Page, and Fishman create on stage is a tall task (to say the least), yet Andy Greenberg and his bandmates continue to prove that they're more than up for the challenge.
It wasn't long ago that Jennifer Reiser (keyboards) joined the band full time, and just as the group finding their new groove, they're introducing a brand new rhythm section. As Greenberg details in our conversation below, it's been an absolutely beautiful transition with Khayat and Bing in the mix. Just as the musical journey of Phish, Runaway Gin continues to evolve and push boundaries at every corner.
Check out thew full interview with Andy below, and make sure to take note of RG's upcoming Fall Tour dates below. If you're anywhere near the Carolinas, you can still catch their Summer Tour closer at Bowstring Brewyard in Raleigh, NC on Thursday, July 28th. Whether you've seen a Gin show in the past or not, there are all kinds of exciting elements brewing as the band looks ahead to the second half of 2022!
Deebs Days Countdown: An Interview with Jack Bennett of The Talismen July 21, 2022 14:46
Great to sit down and chat today, Jack. I figured we could start by talking about your musical background. How did you get started as a musician? How did this ultimately lead you to your bandmates?
Jack: Let's see. It was pretty early on in grade school. I picked up drums first. I was playing a lot of punk rock stuff. A lot of Travis Barker stuff. I think that got a little too loud for my parents, so I ended up picking up guitar around 4th or 5th grade. I didn't ever learn any traditional scales or anything like that. I would bring songs to an instructor in the back of Capitol Music in Montgomery. This was mostly rock and punk rock stuff with signature riffs.
It was around 9th grade that I became really close with our drummer, George Norrell. We really hit it off quick. We vibe with a lot of the same musical influences. I think the band started in 10th grade, when our keyboardist, Jack Wagstaff, moved from Birmingham to Montgomery. We all went on spring break that year, where we really connected with our bassist, Jack Anderson, who was two years ahead of us in school. We ended up forming The Talismen shortly after.
We started as 7-piece band; with our friends Jack Barganier on bass, Camp Spain on guitar, Jud Blount on guitar, and the four of us still playing today. Yes, there were originally four Jacks!
Jack Anderson was actually playing acoustic guitar and singing at the point. We started gigging around Montgomery, playing some local events, and setting a nice foundation by the time we finished high school.
Fast forward to 2018, and we had evolved into a four-piece with Jack Anderson on bass and vocals. It was around then that we linked up our manager and focused our sights on more expansive gigging. It's really been onward and upward from there.
That's a pretty unique story to have started the band so young. What have been some of the highlights for The Talismen since that pivotal time in 2018?
Jack: Oh man. Definitely JingleBall in Montgomery back in December 2019. We opened for a supergroup formed by Kevin Scott. They were performing Talking Heads' Stop Making Sense, and Jennifer Hartswick was also on the bill. She was kind enough to sit in with us. We closed out set with Janis Joplin's "Piece of My Heart," and she was just incredible.
We had our first real festival play that year as well. We played Umphrey's McGee's Woodlands Festival in Charleston. It's been great to connect with some amazing bands along the way. We've really enjoyed building relationships with groups like Big Something, CBDB, and Funk You.
We also recorded our first album at Technical Earth Recorders in Montgomery at the end of 2018. Robert Shimp was incredible to work with. It can a little intimidating getting into a recording studio for the first time, but he made the process so much fun. We're really grateful for him and the opportunity to record Jar Full of Something in our hometown.
We later connected with our friend Kevin Scott, who was kind enough to get us into a private studio in Roswell. This was right after JingleBall in December of 2019. We recorded a four-song EP, Extra Vehicular Activity, with he and Jason Kingsland. That second experience gave us an even better idea of what we wanted to achieve. We still left and felt like we had a lot to learn, but it was such a valuable experience.
Kevin has a long history with guys like Col. Bruce Hampton, Jimmy Herring, and John McLaughlin...just to name a few. Jason has recorded and produced bands like Band of Horses, Perpetual Groove, and a bunch of others. We're just really grateful for that experience in studio with them.
Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography
I would imagine so. Where would you say the focus on recording and studio time has been since then? Y'all have been recording and producing some of your own material recently, correct?
Jack: That's right. We did end up releasing a live album during the pandemic though. Big Friendly Productions put on an amazing live stream series to help bands like us when touring wasn't an option. We were so happy with the recordings that we decided to pick a handful of our favorite tracks and release them as Live From The Bunker later on in 2020.
But yes, I moved into a house a few years ago which allowed us to setup a really ideal rehearsal and recording space. We've since recorded and released two singles, "Savage Road" and "Lockwood," and we're just about done with what will be our third single of 2022. We'll have much more news on that one here soon.
Very cool. I know there will be plenty of fans excited to hear that news. Y'all have been hitting the road pretty hard here in 2022. What have been some of the highlights, and what has the band learned from life on the road?
Jack: We've learned a lot from touring. It seems to be picking up and getting better each year. Some of the highlights this year have been playing Mountain Music Festival in West Virginia. We played our first true theatre gig with Big Something at The Bijou in Knoxville. We did a three-night run with Papadosio back in April, and that was a big opportunity to get in front of their fans.
More recently, we did a Panic afterparty in Huntsville and a Phish pre-party in Gulf Shores on the same weekend. We even got to catch a few nights of the Phish that weekend, which was a big plus. We don't get to go out and see as many shows as we would like to these days.
There is definitely a lot of work to be done off the road, but being on the road and seeing the progress we have made has instilled a lot of confidence in ourselves. This past year has really taught us a lot about what it takes to be successful in this industry. Networking with bands, selling merch, and making sure you don't run out of gas (laughs). It's easy to think that getting on stage and playing is the most important thing, but talking to your fans, networking, and building relationships is equally important.
Photo by Nicholas McElroy: Nicholas Jude Photography
That's a fact. It's great to hear that you guys have made so much progression this year. What's on the horizon for the band? You guys have some big gigs coming up, right?
Jack: Absolutely. Several big festivals coming up. We're super excited to be playing Big Something's festival, The Big What?, in Virginia in a few weeks. Like I said earlier, we're big fans of that band, and we can't say enough nice things about them. Then we have CBDB's festival, Deebs Days, later in August. Those guys have been really good us over the years, and we really look up to them. That's also a big hometown show for us, now that we're all living in Birmingham. They put together an amazing lineup, and we are looking forward to meeting and seeing all of those bands perform.
We head back to The Charleston Woodlands for Resonance Music & Arts Festival in mid-September. That's going to be a full circle moment, being at the same location as our first big festival play back in 2019. It's pretty humbling to be on the same lineup with bands like Goose, Umphrey's McGee, SunSquabi, Papadosio, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, and so many more. The lineup is just stacked.
I'd say there is plenty of excitement ahead for you guys. I'm glad that you mentioned Deebs Days. For those who might be attending the festival and catching their first Talismen show, what would you say that they can expect?
Jack: High-energy rock and roll with some crazy jams. Like most of our peer bands, we pride ourselves on playing a totally unique show every time we step on stage. We've been working hard and planning a few special surprises for this one. This will definitely be a Talismen set to remember.
That's what I like to hear. Well before we wrap this up, where would say that the focus of the band will be from this point forward? What's in store for the future of The Talismen?
Jack: We're definitely focusing on more touring and writing, recording, and releasing new music. We really want to continue to connect and work with other bands around us. That has been really valuable for us, and building our network will only make us stronger. You can expect us to release a few more singles by the end of the year. We'll be looking to record another full-length album at some point in 2023.
Right on. Well, I appreciate your time today, Jack. Look forward to seeing you guys play again at Deebs Days in just a few weeks.
Jack: We can't wait. Thank you Jordan!
Video by Nicholas Jude Photography
Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography
Deebs Days Countdown: An Interview with The Mountain Grass Unit July 15, 2022 08:43
Great to speak with you guys today. Let's start off with some general background info on the band. How did The Mountain Grass Unit get started in your early teenage years?
Drury: Well, Luke (Black) and I originally started playing fiddle tunes as kids. That went on for a while, and I think we tried more of an electric thing in 3rd or 4th grade. Luke picked up the electric guitar and getting into that. I was getting into the drums, and we tried that for a little while. Fast forward to 7th grade, and Sam (Wilson) comes up to me in gym class and says, "Uhh, hey man! I'm Sam. Luke asked me to be the bass player in y'all's rock band."
Luke: Yeah, so we did that for a while. Sam got a bass from someone here in Birmingham.
Sam: Mr. Hurley let me borrow one. Luke taught me to play electric bass before that. I kind of taught myself how to play upright. I guess that was 8th or 9th grade?
Drury: I was in 7th grade, and y'all were in 8th grade. It was the next year that we started getting serious with bluegrass. Luke and I were both taking lessons from Allen Tolbert. Our first official gig was The Ted Talk.
Sam: _TEDx__ Youth came through and did a thing at our middle school. They had us get up there and play three songs. I'd been playing upright for probably three days, at this point. If you search through the depths of YouTube, you can find a video of it. It's just terrible.
Luke: Yeah, it's pretty bad. It helped us start this group though. We actually had to sit down and practice for the gig. It was so bad. I was playing banjo without finger picks, which is just a crime in the bluegrass world. It definitely got us started though. After that gig, there was a little bit of buzz. We kept practicing and learning more songs. Then, we started adding Grateful Dead songs and other songs from our rock category. We were having a lot of fun.
So, would you say those lessons with Allen Tolbert really sent you guys down the bluegrass wormhole?
Luke: Yeah, for sure. Like Drury was saying earlier, I took banjo lessons from Herb Trotman around maybe 1st grade. He was taking mandolin lessons from Jason Bailey, so we had a little bit of the bluegrass drive. Then, I saw Allen Tolbert play at The Acoustic Cafe, and I said, "I want to play exactly like that." That's when the bluegrass drive started hitting me. Drury started taking lessons from him around that time as well. Allen definitely influenced us a ton.
Drury: A ton. It was a cool time, because Allen is a little more traditional with bluegrass. While we were playing traditional bluegrass tunes, from guys like Tony Rice and David Grisman, we were also discovering people like Billy Strings. People who played those traditional tunes, but also got jammy with it...and played Dead. I've always loved The Dead. Luke and Sam have as well.
It was around that point that we realized "jam grass" was the way to go. That was really where it picked up. This was right around the time that The Talismen asked us to open up for them at WorkPlay Theatre. I think that was December of 2019.
That's right. Crazy to think that was almost three years ago. There was also a gig with Sam Bush Band at WorkPlay, right?
Luke: Yeah, that one was really interesting. Drury and I had a marching band show that night. We played a pretty big role in this show. We had to go up to our band director and explain to him that we had an opportunity to open for Sam Bush, which was obviously a pretty big deal at this point. It was a bit of an ordeal, but he agreed to it.
Drury: He let us do it, and then we pulled it again for a Billy Strings show (laughs). That was a really cool day though.
Sam: It really was. We had only played a handful of gigs as a trio at that point.
One of the guys from Sam's band ended up sitting in with y'all, right?
Drury: That's right. Scott Vestal is Sam's banjo player.
Luke: We love Scott. He helped us record both our EP and our album coming out (on July 25th, 2022). We just ended up hanging out with him a bunch. He's such a nice guy.
Drury: He's super cool. When he's recording with us, it's all about us, which is really nice of him. When he picks up a banjo though, he will tear it apart. Scott is a monster player.
I'd say that conversation with your marching band director ended up paying off quite well for y'all.
Drury: Let's just say that I'll remember the Sam Bush show, and not the night I missed the marching band show (laughs). I think I can just put marching band behind me at that point.
Sam: I remember thinking, "If y'all don't get out of this marching band show, I'm gonna lose my mind. We have to play this show!" (laughs)
Photo by Thomas Diasio
You mentioned that things started picking up towards the end of 2019. Perfect timing for the events of 2020, right? I can imagine how challenging the COVID shutdown was, both as high school students and an up-and-coming band. How did y'all go about accepting this reality and putting your energy in the right place to keep things moving forward?
Drury: It was definitely unfortunate, because things were picking up in January of 2020. We had a regular spot over at Basil Pizza. Playing there a few times a month. The word is getting out around down. COVID hits and just screws it all completely. We had a few meetings and decided to just try and write, initially.
We did have an opportunity to do a few live streams on The Music Never Stopped Facebook page. That actually made us some chump change, so that was a big plus. Steve Masterson helps us open up some opportunities for outdoor gigs. It all worked out though. Most of the songs on our upcoming album were written during that time in 2020.
I'm sure the opportunity to play those streams on that type of platform, with a pretty significant built-in audience, ended up being huge for exposure. Followers of that page are really the perfect target demographic. I'm sure a lot of people outside of Alabama are still following y'all because of those streams.
Drury: Absolutely. That's really the name of the game, man. Luke's been really hammering down on our social media. I've always tried to be pretty active on Instagram and YouTube. What's cool about this community is that there are a lot of people out there who are willing to sit down, watch your videos online, and provide solid feedback on what they like about it.
Sam: It's been interesting as we've been traveling more this summer. We've had more gigs outside of Alabama. We were recently in Atlanta and Nashville. People would come up and mention that they watched us on those streams. It's pretty amazing to hear that and meet these people from all over.
Those interactions really go a long way. So, y'all released your first EP last year. I know there is a new album on the horizon. What has it been like getting in the studio and bringing your songs to life?
Luke: It was really fun the first time, because it was our first studio experience. We were so dialed into these three songs of ours. I feel like we probably put too much thought into it all.
Drury: That's exactly what I was going to say.
Sam: We definitely did.
Luke: This time at Scott's, we went in there and did them pretty raw. Only a few takes on a each track. I feel like it sounds more like us.
Sam: I think it sounds more like our live show.
Drury: It does sound more live.
Luke: We've been working on some of these songs for 3-4 years. Some are a little newer, but many have been brewing for a long time.
Drury: One of them was originally an instrumental called "Paradise," but we've since added vocals. So yeah, that one is probably about four years old now.
Sam: It's pretty cool to look back at songs like that one. It's really changed and evolved into something new.
Have the final touches been put on the album? When can people expect to see and hear the release?
Sam: We're done on our end. It will be released on July 25th.
Oh wow! I didn't realize that. Release day is right around the corner.
Drury: Oh yeah. It's coming up, and it will be available for preorder on iTunes on July 16th. We ended up with 8 originals on this one. We're really going to be pushing the pre-orders. We'll take as many as we can get.
Right on. I know this summer has been big for y'all. You're getting to hit a bunch of new cities and venues. What have you guys learned about life on the road thus far?
Drury: Well, we're really glad to be such good friends. That really helps things. It's been so fun. It kind of feels like we're just messing around and making some money.
Sam: It doesn't even feel like a job, really. It feels like a vacation with some shows here and there.
Luke: It's been a blast. We've had a few all-nighters already. We're learning how to handle those scenarios. Pulling out of one town at 3AM and pulling into the next one as the sun is rising.
I'm sure. These are some truly crucial times for y'all. You're laying a foundation and learning the ropes of running a professional, touring band. Sometimes those load outs are mighty late into the night, and the drive ahead can still be brutal.
Drury: For sure. We've been really fortunate to work with some really great venue owners and buyers. A lot of people who have been really good to us. Everyone has been super kind.
Luke: Absolutely. It really means a lot to work with such great people. Hearing that someone has been waiting for so long to see us play. It honestly means a lot.
Drury: It really does, especially when you're playing in a totally new place. We've never been to some of these cities before. The kindness we've seen makes us feel like we fit in, and we're welcome there.
I'm sure the positive feedback makes the world of difference. There may be lighter crowds on random nights, but when you are treated with such kindness, it really goes a long way.
Let's talk a little bit more about CBDB's upcoming festival at Avondale Brewery in August. Deebs Days is giving The Mountain Grass Unit a nice taste of the festival life early on. What are y'all's thoughts on being a part of this lineup?
Sam: Personally, I'm really excited to play alongside all of these other bands. Can't wait to see The Talismen again. It's been a year or so since our last show with them. Really excited to see those guys again.
Drury: The entire lineup is just really exciting.
Luke: It's going to be really great to meet and hang out with the other performers. There are so many great bands playing. I can't wait to watch it all go down.
Sam: I mention The Talismen, because they really helped us crack into the jam band world. They've had us open several shows and been really kind to us. We're excited to build more relationships like that.
Drury: For sure. I credit them for getting us into the jam band scene. We haven't really been playing at festivals of this capacity yet. It's exciting to be on a lineup with guys like Daniel Donato, Sicard Hollow, and CBDB: people we've been watching on social media over the years. Those are musicians that we really look up to. It's great to see a progression of what we're able to do. I hope we can bring something really special and unique to the table.
Absolutely. Every band that you've seen out there has been in this position. Breaking in to the festival circuit and having some big opportunities. Soak it all in, and of course do your thing on stage. I think it's safe to say there will be many more down the road.
Drury: It's going to be awesome. It's exciting to think about what could come out of this experience. I know we all hope to make some great connections and start some solid new relationships. Hopefully, this can lead to some other festival appearances.
That's right. You guys are way ahead of the pack already. You're fresh out of high school, but you've already built a solid fan base. Y'all are building the band's resume, and doing so will continue to open all kinds of doors.
Drury: I really hope so. That's definitely the goal. It's great timing with the album coming out. We will have a month or so to get the word out. Just enough time to promote those tunes.
Well before we wrap this up, I wanted to make sure that we've covered all of our bases. You guys have quite a few more summer dates. You have the album release and Deebs Days coming up. Anything else that the band is fired up about?
Drury: We're going to carry on our dates through the summer. Obviously, school is a little bit of a speed bump. I'll be joining Luke at Berklee in Boston, while Sam is in Tuscaloosa. Luke and I will be playing up there a bunch. We will continue to have band meetings to make sure things are on the right track. We'll have a bunch of zoom calls. We plan to have some gigs booked for when we're all back in Birmingham over the holidays too.
That's the right attitude. Just keep doing what you're doing. This band has a lot of people's attention already. It sure feels like you guys are on the fast track to doing some really special things. You guys know how unique of a thing this is. Set goals, communicate, and stay the course. There's no telling how far you guys can take The Mountain Grass Unit.
Drury: We really appreciate that, Jordan. We are just taking it one step at a time. Figuring out what is the next best move for us. I'm hoping that we can just capitalize on the progress we've made and keep the momentum going. If we can do that, I’m confident that it can really go somewhere. We just have to keep putting the work in.
Photos by Jean Longuil Frank
Deebs Days Countdown: An Interview with Daniel Donato July 6, 2022 15:58
Photo by Annelise Loughead
Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
Sicard Hollow Independently Releases New Single "Mighty Fine Day" June 30, 2022 11:47
Photos by Kendall McCargo Photography
Press Release via Sicard Hollow
Sicard Hollow Independently Releases New Single “Mighty Fine Day” June 30th, 2022
NASHVILLE, TN – Sicard Hollow is a four-piece progressive bluegrass band who formed with a mutual passion for pushing the boundaries of genre. Heavily influenced by the Grateful Dead and New Grass Revival, these young pickers bring new energy to a timeless style with a combination of fearless improvisation and instrumental prowess.
The band formed through mutual connections within the Nashville music scene who all wanted to play something different. They were all simultaneously discovering bluegrass while existing in their other scenes. Once they got together, the rest was history.
Having toured extensively around the country since 2018, this group of players continues to grow their sound with every performance. With the release of their debut studio album, ‘Secret of the Breeze’ (2020), a live album called ‘Live at Brooklyn Bowl Nashville’ (2021), and their upcoming sophomore studio effort, there is no slowing down for Sicard Hollow.
After the band finished recording their upcoming studio album, ‘Brightest of Days,’ they were frustrated to find out how long the post-production and marketing process was going to take and how long it would be before their fans could hear what they’ve been working on. After about a week of decompressing from a long week in the studio, “We wanted to head back in,” says Alex King, vocalist and guitar player for the band.
The result was three road-tested, crowd favorites finally getting the studio intention they deserved. The band opted for releasing them as singles over grouping them together on an EP in an effort to let the songs tell three separate stories before they’re grouped into a single project. Cover artist, Brandon Trammel, also tried to illustrate this idea by creating a separate image for each single that will eventually make up a triptych once all three singles are released.
The band released the first single, “Little Miss Tipsy,” at the beginning of June as they hit the road for their summer tour. “It’s a phat festival banger,” says Parrish Gabriel, bassist. The release was accompanied by a beer from New Heights Brewing Company (Nashville, TN) called, “Little Miss Tipsy,” which can still be found in liquor stores all over the Greater Nashville area.
Today the band released the next tune, “Mighty Fine Day,” which is a fun, upbeat, summer-time river anthem about getting all your buds together on anything you can find that floats and hitting the water. The band appropriately releases the lazy-river-themed jam in time for their return to The Peach Music Festival, which takes place at Montage Mountain Waterpark & Ski Resort in Scranton, PA on Sunday July 3rd, 2022.
“Mighty Fine Day'' is Available now on all major streaming platforms.
Alex King (Vocals/Guitar), Will Herrin (Vocals/Mandolin), Matt Rennick (Violin), Parrish Gabriel (Bass), Daniel Davis (Engineer), Evan Wilbur (Mastering), Brandon Trammel (Artwork), and Tim Coughlin (Executive Producer).
Recorded at The Studio Nashville in Nashville, TN.
Who Is Danger Wolf? Whit Murray & Stephen Taylor Discuss Latest Project June 28, 2022 00:24
Photo by Rebecca Adler Photography
Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
March of 2020 will forever be a time that evokes a wide range of emotions. Just as we all began to understand what was happening around the world, it all shut down in what felt like the blink of an eye. While the earliest stages of the COVID-19 era brought about so many trials and tribulations, it also served as an opportunity for many to press pause and focus their creative energy on in a different direction.
Nashville-based musicians Whit Murray and Stephen Taylor are a perfect example. Long time friends from their days in Athens (GA), the two guitarists shared a mutual interest in writing music together, but the stars hadn't ever aligned just right. As you will read in the conversation below, the COVID shutdown paved the way for Whit and Stephen to do just that.
The result is an exciting new project known as Danger Wolf. Fresh off the release of their debut, self-titled album, these two are riding high and already well on their way to a sophomore release. I had a chance to sit down with Whit and Stephen last week and hear the full story. After having the weekend to stream these tunes a handful of times, I can totally understand the excitement they both share.
Danger Wolf features Whit and Stephen backed by a stellar cast of their peer musicians and former bandmates from past projects. You'll find multiple members of Moon Taxi, as well as long time collaborators from Los Colognes and Mama's Love rounding out these tracks. Check out the full conversation below and make sure to follow Danger Wolf on Facebook and Instagram for all of the latest news.
Danger Wolf is a brand new project for both of you guys. I know that both of you have extensive histories in the music industry. Let's kick this off with a little background info on the two of y'all.
Whit: I grew up playing in bands in Raleigh, NC and ended up in Athens, GA after college. That was a really special time to be there, because there were so many bands forming out of UGA. After Athens, I moved up to Boston and attended Berklee College of Music for 3 years. From there, I knew I wanted to settle back in the south, and Nashville seemed to be the perfect fit. In 2014, I reunited with Tom Galloway from the Mama’s Love days in Athens to form Maradeen, and we toured extensively 'til right before the pandemic. I’ve also been playing with a group of Chicago natives that are based here in Nashville (Los Colognes) since 2018.
Stephen & I first met in Athens, GA when I was playing in Mama’s Love, and he was with Eddie & the Public Speakers. I want to say we were playing a show together at Tasty World in 2009(?), and then reconnected when we both moved to Nashville in 2014. We’re super fortunate that most of our friends here are all badass musicians. You almost forget until you’re all hanging out, look around the room, and realize that everyone there plays an instrument and most likely, we all met back in Athens in 2009.
Stephen: I’m originally from Columbia, SC and when it was time to go to college, the music scene in Athens, GA was calling, so I headed to UGA and really immersed myself in the rock scene there. So much incredible music has come out of that town. I think that’s where I learned how to play in a band and write songs with people.
Nashville was always the next step in my mind. Amazing music scene, and so much opportunity to find your place in the industry. I worked in the agency world for a while and then had a stint on the road working behind the scenes with bands like Snarky Puppy and Little Big Town. Eventually, I found my place working for Fender Guitars, which I still do today. I really couldn’t be more fortunate. I get to play in bands with some of my best pals (Drew Dixon, Tom Galloway, and now Danger Wolf) and work in the industry that I love. Life is good.
When did the idea for Danger Wolf come about, and what's the overall concept behind what y'all are looking to accomplish here?
Stephen: Whit and I quickly established ourselves as quarantine buddies in 2020. We’d get together and hang on Friday nights, play cards and grill out. Eventually, we picked up a few guitars over at my place, and Whit had the riff to “Who’s to Blame”. It was so rockin’. I think we wrote that one in a few hours and knocked out a demo. We were just like, “Man, this is pretty great! Let’s write another one next week," and here we are. So, in a lot of ways, this thing is a product of sheer boredom. Once we had a batch of songs and were talking about recording them, I think our intention was nothing more than to make a good record with our friends and have a lot of fun doing it. It’s pretty pure in that sense, and I know we both aim to keep it that way.
Whit: The styles of the songs are all very different, but the lyrics can’t help but convey a sense of restlessness from being shut off from the world like everyone was at the time. Once we had the first one finished, we thought, “All right, now we’ve got a 90’s sounding song. We should write an 80’s pop hit,” ("Less is More") or “now we need a swampy rocker” ("Nobody Home"). "We Make a Pretty Good Team" was the last one we wrote, because we knew we needed to have one feel-good, ballad-esque song on there. We were really happy that the entire EP had a really solid flow from start to finish.
Photo by Rebecca Adler Photography
What can you share about these songs and what they mean to both of you?
Whit: It really captures the best of that era to me, where we both had so much free time. We might as well create something out of it. The notion of writing songs and playing music with your friends just for the sake of doing it, with no expectations or pressure attached, is what attracted all of us in the first place. It's probably why we’re all still trying to outdo what we’ve done previously.
Stephen: It’s a thrill to put out original music. To make something that you’re proud of. That’s where it all starts for me. Whit and I have been friends for years, but this is the first time we’ve really played music together. I think we came into this thing with a great mutual respect for what each other brings to the table. As the songs developed, our strengths as individuals really became apparent. We would lean on them for certain things and get out of the way when needed. Also, both being lead guitar players, we had a lot of options under our fingers and were able to dip into some of those great Allman Brothers/Eagles-esqiw moments. It was lots of fun.
This EP features a pretty killer cast of your peer Nashville musicians. Tell me about who we will hear as we listen through each tune?
Whit: The foundation for what became our sound is Tyler Ritter (Moon Taxi) & Gordon (Gordo) Persha (Los Colognes) playing off of each other. When we were rehearsing, and those two were playing the riff to “Who’s to Blame,” we all stood there in awe for a minute. We knew that this was going to be good. You’re only as strong as your rhythm section, and both of those guys are monsters with their instruments.
We were also super lucky to have Wes Bailey (Moon Taxi) playing with us who’s one of the best keyboardists in the game. He has the chops to be flashy, but is much more committed to serving the songs. We really wanted to write concise songs that had some solos but rocked just as hard without them.
Big notable mentions are Amber Woodhouse who sang BGV’s and played saxophone on “We Make a Pretty Good Team.” She really brought that song to another level. Plus we had Tom Galloway (Mama's Love) and Dan Davis singing harmonies, and Ben Torbert (Mama’s Love) playing percussion. Lastly, we bought a 12-pack of beer and had our buddies Mills Waterhouse and Hank Bateman come in and add gang vocals to all of the choruses to really make them sound big. It such a blast.
You had the opportunity to record at The Studio Nashville with producer Tom Tapley. How did you link up with Tom, and what all did he bring to the table? Tell me about this studio, the recording process, and how valuable Tom’s expertise was to this EP.
Whit: Tom’s actually a big reason this whole thing came together. He did the first Mama’s Love EP back in 2009, and we were dying to work with him again. Then last year in April 2021, we went down to Atlanta and spent a week recording with him at his place, West End Studios. Tom’s like the cool older brother who’s holding down the house while your parents are out of town. He’s probably the nicest, most fun, and positive person I’ve ever met. He really elevates you to play things you didn’t know you were capable of. Not to mention, a really hard worker and an absolute master of studio tricks and sounds.
Stephen: Tom is such a vibe. He’s the biggest cheerleader in the room. When things are happening, he knows how to pull the best out of the moment. And when they’re not, he gets you right back on track. We wanted this thing to sound like a big rock record. Live and rowdy. We couldn’t have asked for a better guy to be at the helm.
And I see Dan Davis engineered the record. This is a name I continue to hear, as so many amazing musicians are working with him. How did you link up with Dan?
Whit: Dan was a huge secret weapon on this project. He grew up singing harmonies with his brothers, and he is a master at knowing how songs are crafted, especially vocal phrasing. It seems like he’s worked on or currently working with all of our friends in the rock scene in Nashville.
Put him and Tom together, you know that you’re going to have a ball and that these two are going to get you to your destination safely. You know that you’ll be a better musician after the experience.
Stephen: Yeah, Dan is the man. He worked on all the Tom Galloway records with us. He has such a great ear and is a blast in the studio. Not to mention, he sings his ass off. It’s pretty awesome when your engineer can jump in on harmony vocals to bring it all together.
Release day is always super exciting, especially when it involves the debut of a new project. Where does Dangerwolf go from here?
Stephen: It was too much fun making the first one. We’d be silly not to record a follow-up. We already have 5 or 6 tunes started. I’m sure we’ll continue to write until we land on a batch that feels like a cohesive project. Then it’s time to do it again, “Nothin’ to it, but to do it”, as my Dad says.
Whit: Put this out, play an album release, and get back into the factory to write the next one. We would love to bring this group back together in 2023 for another round.
Stream Danger Wolf's Debut, Self-Titled Album Here:
Deebs Days Countdown: An Interview with Alex King of Sicard Hollow June 17, 2022 22:30
Photos by Kendall McCargo Photography
Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
Big Something Reveals Lineup For Annual Festival: The Big What? June 13, 2022 16:08
Photo + Press Release via Big Something
Big Something has announced the 2022 lineup for their annual Summer music festival and campout - The Big What? - taking place August 4 - 6, 2022 at Pops Farm in Martinsville, VA after a 2 year hiatus. Formerly held in North Carolina, The Big What? will begin a new chapter in its 9 year history with a short move just across state lines to one of Virginia’s most pristine outdoor music venues, Pops Farm, also home to Rooster Walk Music Festival.
“We are so excited to reunite with the ‘what-fam’ for a new adventure together at Pops Farm,” Nick MacDaniels of Big Something explains. “This is going to be a unique creative experience for the band and our community and we are very grateful to have both Pops Farm and Rooster Walk supporting our vision. We've got a lot of fun ideas in mind already and can't wait to bring The Big What? back to life in this beautiful new space."
Every year since the festival first formed in 2012, The Big What? has featured a 3 day musical and artistic journey curated by Big Something, Possum Holler Productions and Life Is Art Studios. Now in its 9th year, The Big What? will continue where it left off in 2019 with the same core team of organizers plus additional support from members of the Rooster Walk organization. Fans can expect a fun and collaborative environment with multiple unique performances by Big Something plus an eclectic lineup of musicians, artists and performers.
Phil Lesh & Friends + Wilco to Join Forces as 'PHILCO' at Sacred Rose June 10, 2022 08:06
Chicago’s new multi-genre festival SACRED ROSE, debuting at SeatGeek Stadium on August 26 - 28, 2022, has announced details of its Friday, August 26 headliner Phil Lesh & Friends..Featuring the world debut of special guests Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy (vocalist/guitarist) and Nels Cline (guitarist) alongside host and captain of the musical ship Phil Lesh, SACRED ROSE will proudly present the first-ever ‘PHILCO’ performance. The headlining Friday night set in Wilco’s native Chicago will truly be a once-in-a-lifetime musical moment, melding together the fabrics of two iconic American bands for the first (and likely last) time ever. Anchored by Lesh’s white-hot bass riffs, PHILCO will see Tweedy channel Jerry Garcia’s vocal power while Cline purveys six-string shredding.
Also joining Lesh, Tweedy and Cline is an all-star roster of critically-acclaimed musicians including Jeff Chimenti (Dead & Co, Wolfpack), Karl Denson (Rolling Stones, Greyboy Allstars), John Molo (Phil Lesh & Friends), Stu Allen (Phil Lesh & Friends + Dark Star Orchestra), Grahame Lesh (Phil Lesh & Friends + Midnight North), and Elliott Peck (Midnight North).
Says Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy: “Nels and I are honored to be asked to join Phil and Friends for Sacred Rose. There has been so much about Phil and the Dead to be inspired by over the years, from their longtime musical brotherhood to their wonderful and incomparable music, to their relentless touring and longevity. But perhaps the biggest inspiration is their dedication to the community that has grown up around them. This is a trait that we in Wilco deeply appreciate and have aimed to emulate over the years. There’s nothing better than playing music with your friends, for your friends."
Lesh has a special relationship with Wilco, dating back to 1999 when the Grateful Dead founding member performed his catalog hit “Ripple” with the band at their California concert. In 2016, Wilco joined forces with Lesh’s fellow founding member Bob Weir to cover Grateful Dead’s “St. Stephen,” with Leshreturning the favor in 2019 when his Terrapin Family Band covered Wilco’s “Misunderstood”.
SACRED ROSE’s eclectic line-up spans the sweet sounds of Americana, psych-rock, jam, indie, soul, funk and bluegrass which includes Khruangbin, The War On Drugs, Black Pumas, Umphrey’s McGee, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Goose, STS9, Greensky Bluegrass, Kamasi Washington, Animal Collective, Margo Price, and many more
SACRED ROSE LINEUP
Phil Lesh & Friends aka PHILCOKhruangbinThe War On DrugsBlack PumasUmphrey's McGeeJoe Russo's Almost DeadGooseSTS9Greensky BluegrassThe Disco BiscuitsKamasi WashingtonSt. Paul & The Broken BonesPunch BrothersDawesAnimal CollectiveHiatus KaiyoteThe Wood BrothersCity and ColourYves TumorLettuceMoon TaxiCory WongLotusThe Infamous Stringdusters Feat. Molly TuttleWith Special Guest Margo Price (Artist At Large)
Andy Frasco and the U.N.Blu DeTigerCircles Around The SunDanielle PonderGone Gone BeyondHolly BowlingKarina RykmanKitchen DwellerslespecialLiz CooperLuke MitraniMaggie RoseMidnight NorthNicole AtkinsSierra HullSunSquabi Feat. Kanika Moore (Artist At Large)SyzygalThe Dip
Deebs Days Countdown: An Interview with Cy Simonton of CBDB June 8, 2022 16:32
It's great to sit down and catch up for a few minutes today, Cy. I figured we could kick off the interview by touching on the latest announcement from CBDB. The band has decided to press pause and take an indefinite hiatus following Deebs Days. What would you like to share about this announcement?
Cy: Yeah man. As far as taking the pause, I think we're just wanting to take a break from being on the road. Try some new things for a bit. I think change is good for the soul sometimes. I think that's what we're looking for. We are looking at Deebs Days as a celebration of the last ten years, I think it will be a perfect celebration of that.
Totally agree. There's no better way to send the band off for a break and allow y'all to recharge. See what the next proper chapters are in life, right?
Cy: For sure, man.
Tell me a little bit about how this year has gone thus far for the band. I'm sure it's been a blessing to be able to get back out there and play so many of the band's favorite cities and venues.
Cy: We've had some incredible shows. Knowing that this has been coming, I think that being on stage has been super special. You really try to soak it all in and not take anything for granted. Brooklyn Bowl (Nashville) with Sicard Hollow and LadyCouch was incredible. Both of those bands will be at Deebs Days. The new Brooklyn Browl is just a killer room. We had a great crowd, and that felt really good. A lot of the shows in the Northeast were super fun. Syracuse, Baltimore, Charlottesville, really all of them have been a lot of fun.
That's so great to hear man. I know y'all just played Candler Park Music Festival in Atlanta. I know that had to be special for you. Playing another major, long standing festival where you grew up. How did things go over in Atlanta last weekend?
Cy: It went really well man. The crowd was super great. I thought we played really well. It was such a great vibe. We were grateful to be a part of it. The weather was perfect. Just great vibes all around at Candler Park.
Love that. Well, let's jump a little more into Deebs Days. I know that the band has been tossing the idea around of curating your own festival for a while now. It's been a really successful concept for many bands that you guys have come up around. Tell me about the thought process that went into this and how you landed on Avondale Brewery.
Cy: Having our own festival is something we've been thinking about for a few years. We knew it would be in Alabama. That's always been home base for the band, even if we don't all live there anymore. From there, it came down to Avondale or Horse Pens 40. The camping aspect is something that is super, super fun, but I think that throws another wrinkle in it for a first time festival. I think, for us, Birmingham felt like the right place to do it.
In Birmingham, Avondale Brewery is clearly the right option. We've had so many great shows there. It's always felt like a home base for us. When I brought this up to Alex Cape (Big Friendly Productions) a while back, he was super into it. I think he had been thinking about doing something similar at Avondale for a while. I think when we had this conversation, it was kind of a serendipitous moment of "this is how we're going to make this happen."
That's great. From what I understand, this will be the first event to bring in a second stage to the Avondale concert grounds. This will really allow y'all to create a true festival flow.
Cy: Yeah man. It should really allow us to have a seamless thing going that weekend. As soon as one band ends, the next one gets started. No time for any fluff (laughs).
That's really exciting man. Looking at the lineup, CBDB will be playing both nights. You've got Brass Against coming in to headline on Friday. How did y'all go about putting together this group of bands to come together for Deebs Days?
Cy: I think there were a few things that were really important to us with the lineup. We obviously wanted to have bands that are friends of ours that we love. Both local and those outside of the area. We also wanted to make sure that we had a diverse lineup. We didn't want it to be just one vibe. We wanted to be able to bounce around multiple genres that we all enjoy.
Brass Against is gonna be killer. That's just a big, high-energy brass band. They do Rage Against The Machine, Deftones, and Tool covers, along with some original material. I think that's gonna be really fun. We have some great bluegrass acts. There are obviously some awesome jam bands like Mungion or Daniel Donato with the cosmic country but we also are covering more straight forward rock and roll with Dave Hause and others. You have a band like Audiophile, which brings more of a modern indie/pop/rock element to the lineup. We wanted to have lots of different flavors, and I think we accomplished that.
Absolutely. I think you definitely did that. There's something for everyone, when you start digging through each of the bands pinned to perform. A lot of musical flavors that all kinds of patrons can enjoy.
Aside from what we've discussed thus far. What message would you like to send to your fans? I know there are some bittersweet emotions surrounding this time period. What would you like to say to those who have supported the band through the years?
Cy: Oh man. Just so much love and gratitude. There are so many incredible memories from the road. So many people have shown us so much generosity. People letting us crash in their homes, cooking meals, buying tickets and merch, and just coming out to support the band night after night. All of it means the world to each of us. I'd really just like to say "thank you" to everyone who has supported us. It has meant the world to us. Then, I'd also like to say, "Get your Deebs Days tickets, and let's get ready to rage!"
That's right. The fans can get ready for what should be two of the most exciting CBDB shows to date.
Cy: Absolutely. We've been hearing from a lot of people from all over. We're excited to hear that we have people getting flights and traveling from all over for the weekend. The vibe should be incredible, with a lot of close friends coming together in one spot.
That's amazing to hear. Is there anything else you'd like to touch on before we wrap up?
Cy: I think the main thing is just recognizing all of the hard work and energy that our team and the Big Friendly team are putting into this. Without spoiling any surprises, there are going to be some amazing art installations built for the festival. There has been so much attention to detail. Big Friendly are incredibly valuable to the festival, and we would not be able to pull this off without all of the hard work that they're putting in.
No doubt about that man. That's an incredible group of folks, and you won't find a more talented production company. Knowing that they're on board is fantastic.
Cy: Absolutely man. I couldn't agree more.
Well, it's always a pleasure chatting, my friend. Excited to be a part of this and can't wait to see it all come together.
Cy: Likewise, man. Thank you Jordan!
Words by Monica Dean
Photos by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography
Widespread Panic kicked off the Memorial Day run with a cover of Neil Young’s, “Keep on Rockin in the Free World”. John Bell delivered the timely message, “Here’s one more kid that will never go to school / Never get to fall in love, never get to be cool” after the recent school shooting in Texas that took the lives of 19 students and two teachers. Then it was down to business with a blow of Sunny Ortiz’s whistle into Coconuts, before Dave Schools gleefully welcomed the crowd “to space camp.” A body shaking “Worry” before JoJo Hermann set fire to his piano with “Big Wooly Mammoth” to close the set.
Panic paid respects to several influencers and mentors Memorial Day weekend, especially to Col. Bruce Hampton. They started the second set with “Fixin’ To die,” a song Colonel Bruce loved to cover. JB's voice resonated in our soul on “Mercy,” before hurling the crowd back into outer space with a playful rap between JB and Schools on “Going Out West.” Panic slides backwards through space and time into “Barstools and Dreamers” with a super rare and much missed “Thank You For Lettin’ Me Be Mice Elf” rap that hasn’t been played since 2015. Second set closed out with a tribute to Tom Petty with “Honeybee.” Panic raps up their first night in Huntsville with JB getting growly on “Pigeons.”
They were back at it on Saturday night; sipping on a “Tallboy” served up with some “Ribs and Whiskey” to start the first set and closed out with Jojo getting rowdy on “All Time Low”. Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” opened the second set. There was a long “Fire on the Mountain” tease during “Stop/Go,” and Neil's Young's "Walk On" was up next. “Driving Song” runs into “Surprise Valley,” takes a break for drums and a jam before Panic orbits back around into “Driving Song” and “Surprise Valley” again. The crowd had “an ass kicking time” during “Postcard” to end the second set. A hard hitting “Halloween Face” and “Flat Foot Flewzy” ended night two.
Things got real when a backwards hat JB walked onstage Sunday night for more Memorial Day tributes. The set started with Link Wray’s instrumental “Rumble” before giving us all a “little bit of room to fly” with “Conrad”. Panic returns to tributes with Willie Dixie’s “Weak Brain, Narrow Mind”, Billy Joe Shaver’s “Chunk of Coal,” and Vic Chesnutt’s “Sleeping Man” and “Morally Challenged” which was played for just the third time ever. JB flows through Danny Hutchens’ (Bloodkin) “Trashy” before grabbing the keys and taking a ride on “Love Tractor” to end the first set.
Memorials continue in the second set with “Down,” a song written by founding Panic drummer Todd Nance who passed away in 2021. Coming back to Col. Bruce once again for a Zambi inspired jam, “Time is Free'' with a nice “Space is the Place” rap from JB. When asked about what Zambi meant, Col. Bruce once said in an interview that “the principal of Zambi is when in doubt, go completely out”. Panic did just that Sunday night with an encore honoring founding Widespread Panic members, guitarist Michael Houser and drummer Todd Nance with “Blue Indian”, “Travelin’ Man” and “The Waker”.
Next up, Widespread Panic makes the yearly pilgrimage to the land of sunny rocks June 24-26 at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver.
The Road to Mountain Music Fest: Kanika Moore of Doom Flamingo June 1, 2022 21:51
Photo and Music Video by Paul Chelmis
Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
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