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Nathaniel Rateliff Leaves It All Out There in Charlotte May 16, 2018 14:28

Words by DJ Tanner

Photos by Jim Dimitroff: ShowLove Media

Nathaniel Rateliff is worth cheering for. His music and his story are worthy of your applause. And he got a lot it at his show Tuesday night at the Fillmore in Charlotte.

I was fortunate to be introduced to Rateliff’s music early in his career through his 2010 debut solo album, In Memory of Loss. That album holds a special place for me – as it was essentially the soundtrack to falling in love with my wife. I followed his career closely since then and introduced as many people as I could to his music. He was one of those artists you knew should / could be bigger. His voice and songwriting talent was undeniable. He just needed a launching point, which he found with the incarnation of the Night Sweats. When I heard he was putting together a soul/funk band, I was admittedly a bit reserved. There were legions of bands taking advantage of the neo-soul revival, with varying levels of legitimacy and quality. Then I heard his first single, “S.O.B.” It was clever and catchy and authentic and turned into a massive hit. Thankfully, the rest of the album held up and catapulted Rateliff and his band into legitimate success. His second album, Tearing at the Seams, is an even more impressive showing. It’s gotten more airplay in our house than any other this year and almost every song on the album has claimed a spot as my favorite at one time or another. A long-winded way of saying it is truly a complete album – chock full of amazing songs from start to finish. I could easily turn this show review into an album review – just so many amazing tracks.

With two great albums of high energy, high quality music in his catalog, and a lifetime of earning his stripes on the road, expectations were lofty for this show. The show was sold out and the crowd was as lively as any I’ve ever seen at the Fillmore.

Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real opened the night. I got turned on to them when they were Neil Young’s backing band for his full-band recent tours. Any band tasked with that duty has to have some serious live chops. I’d also put their song, “Find Yourself’, as one of my favorite tracks of 2017. (There’s a great Rolling Stone article on the genesis of Lady Gaga’s collaboration on this song, which also involves Bradly Cooper because of course it does.) Lukas’ music is not breaking any new musical path – you get shades of Little Feat, Allmans, and Skynyrd – but I don’t mean that to sound negative. It’s comfortable and familiar but taken to a really unique place by Lukas’ amazing voice, guitar skills, and high energy stage presence – complete (on this night) with a Hendrix-patented teeth-guitar solo. It was a great way to start the night, with highlights including a crowd-pleasing “Carolina”, a stretched out and gorgeous “Forget About Georgia” (clever tune w/ an ever cleverer backstory), and a great version of the aforementioned “Find Yourself” to close out the set. While no Neil Young covers made the set, you could feel the Crazy Horse vibe throughout their set.

As it does on Rateliff’s latest album, “Shoe Boot” opened up the show. With an absurdly catchy and danceable drum beat and horn/bass riff, it was the perfect way to start the show. Probably the most danceable track on the album it would be at home on any DapTone release. As mentioned previously, I had some concern about Rateliff’s move to much more upbeat music, given how natural he seemed as an acoustic singer/songwriter. But his albums with the Night Sweats were/are just as amazing. And it makes even more sense once you see them in person. These guys love making/playing this music. I’m not sure anyone danced harder that night than Rateliff and his bandmates (but I sure as hell tried). And the songs just fit so well in a live setting. The choruses are built for sing a longs. And the tempo and riffs are impossible not to move along to. These guys are genuinely moved by the music they create and it’s impossible not to get caught up in it also. Not only are they enjoying it but they are appreciative for it. Numerous times throughout the show he thanked the crowd for the support that has afforded them the ability to do what they love and “truly changed their lives”. These words were particularly poignant for me – knowing the path he’d endured to get to this point. If you haven’t seen it before, I highly recommend watching the documentary, Austin to Boston, which gives a powerful glimpse into Rateliff’s early career and backstory.

One thing I particularly loved about the evening, is Rateliff finding opportunities to work his softer, singer/songwriter side to the Night Sweats format, speaking specifically to “I’d Be Waiting” (performed solo acoustic), “Hey Mama” and “Tearing at the Seams”. All are slow burners that were great counterpunches to the overall extremely high energy show. These gave Rateliff a chance to show off the deep, captivating soulfulness of his voice.

Highlights were plentiful and hard to keep track of but the breakdown/build-up moments in “I Need Never Get Old” and “S.O.B”, were legitimately goosebump-inducing. The raucous sing-a-long of “S.O.B.” was the perfect way to end the set. You know the night has been a success and made its impact when the sing-a-long carries over into the parking lot and bar next door. Turns out “gimme a drink” is a pretty great lyric to sing at a bar. (Related, if the bartender from the Back Bar is reading this… sorry.)

I’d seen Rateliff’s cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City” from the clip of them backstage at the Tonight Show. Unfortunately, the video got pulled off their website and I’d been dying to hear it again. It is truly a perfect cover for his voice and that band. I will remember that version of that song for years to come, as will most everyone else there I imagine. It was poignant and perfect.

There’s an article that quoted Rateliff saying/joking that his vision for this band was to be a straight and blatant rip-off of The Band. And while that is probably as close of a proxy there is in rock history, Rateliff and the Night Sweats are creating something truly unique and amazing. We’re all lucky we get to bear witness to the story. And it’s a story worth cheering for.

 


The Road to CukoRakko: Luke Quaranta of Toubab Krewe May 15, 2018 16:32

 

Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

If you're a music lover in Alabama, you've more than likely heard about an amazing grassroots festival known as CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival. Founded in 2014, the festival has been held twice a year at Horse Pens 40 in Steele, AL. As this concept has continued to evolve each year, festival producers have decided to bring the spring festival to Birmingham's Avondale Brewing Company on Saturday, May 19th, while still having plans for a full-weekend festival in October.

The spring festival will now be known as CukoRakko Fam Jam, a one-day event held in the heart of Birmingham which features a wide variety of world class talent from across the country. As we prepare for another unforgettable CukoRakko experience, we're sitting down and getting to know a few of this year's performers. For our next installment, we caught up with Luke Quaranta, percussionist of Toubab Krewe. See below for the full interview and stay tuned for further coverage throughout the weekend.

Share this post directly from the Live & Listen Facebook page and tag a friend in the comments section for a chance to win a pair of tickets to CukoRakko Fam Jam. We will announce the winner on Friday, May 18th.



Some music cannot be found on a map or within iTunes categories. Some music is so original it seems snatched from the great, invisible substrata that runs below all human activity, a sound aching to be born without a flag or fixed allegiance – free, questing, overflowing with immediate, tangible life. This is the music of Toubab Krewe, the vibrant Asheville, NC-based instrumental powerhouse that creates a sonic Pangaea that lustily swirls together rock, African traditions, jam sensibilities, international folk strains and more.  While nearly impossible to put into any box, it takes only a few moments to realize in a very palpable way that one is face-to-face with a true original who recognizes no borders in a march towards a muscular, original, globally switched-on sound.   

Formed in 2005, Toubab Krewe has tenaciously honed their craft through relentless touring and a fierce dedication to carving out something they can truly call their own.  This is a band that actively draws inspiration from whatever source floats into their purview, something they've exhibited in their decade of heavy gigging, including regular appearances at major U.S. festivals like Bonnaroo, High Sierra, Wakarusa and New York City's Summer Stage, and abroad at such legendary gatherings as Festival In The Desert in Mali, The Shanghai World Music Festival, and The Festival of World Music in Sines, Portugal.  

Their globe-hopping propensity has made them an emerging headliner at their hometown's famous Orange Peel and a familiar face at similar venues throughout the country. Whether on their own or collaborating with luminaries like the Last Poets' Umar Bin Hassan or Uncle Earl's Rayna Gellert, Toubab Krewe has already earned the attention and respect of a broad musical community.   

Toubab carries echoes of African greats like Ali Farka Toure, Orchestra Baobab and Salif Keita, no doubt picked up during the group's travels to study and live in Guinea, Ivory Coast and Mali.  But what truly differentiates Toubab Krewe from other Statesiders inspired by African music is how they innovate on what they've learned instead of simply recreating tradition. Toubab Krewe carves out a new trail honoring the African originators they admire by making something alive and contemporary. 

Click Here: Purchase CukoRakko Fam Jam Tickets

Let’s start off with some general history on the band. You guys got started in Asheville back in 2005. How did this project come together?

Luke: We started in 2005, and we had actually been friends for a lot longer than that. The project really came together around our friendships formed at Warren Wilson College. A few of the guys had been friends well before that. Our kora/ngoni player Justin Perkins and our guitarist Drew Heller grew up together in Asheville; playing music for a number of years. Our original drummer, Teal Brown, also grew up with those guys since the middle school days. They had some bands throughout high school and college.

I met the guys during the college years, and we had all developed this mutual interest in West African music. I was a part of a drumming group on campus, and then I went to Guinea, West Africa to study music in 1999. Four of us in the group (at that time) went to Guinea and Ivory Coast to study in 2001. So, those were the roots of it all. The interest in West African music and traveling to West Africa. Drew and Justin actually took a trip to Bamako, Mali in 2004 for about four months, and it was when they returned from that trip that we started in the band in 2005. 

I think on that trip...their eyes were opened to not only all of the traditional music that we had been studying, but also more of the contemporary scene in Bamako. Bands playing clubs, mixing Western instrumentation and more modern instrumentation with the traditional music. They got a real sense that we could play a lot of the music that we had come to really love, but also in a style that was true to our American roots. 

It was a cool moment, man. We started the band in '05 and cut the first record in April of that year. I think we released it in June of that year and started hitting the road, playing festivals, and never really looking back. We ended up being on the road for like 10 years, up until 2014. We played through that year, and that's when we decided to take a bit of a break from the road. 

I'd say that was well deserved. As you said, the band mixes the musical styles of West Africa and America. It's quite unique to say the least. I read that "toubab" means "foreigner," and "krewe" is in reference to New Orleans. Would you say that there is much of a New Orleans influence?
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Luke: Yeah...I think so, man. A lot of Americana roots. A lot of roots in old time and string music from Western North Carolina. Especially because Drew and Justin grew up there; playing banjos, fiddles, and what not. We all have such an appreciation for New Orleans music. At the time, it really reflected what we were doing, which was experimenting in a style that had really deep roots. I think a lot of the same things have happened in New Orleans music. 
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People come here (New Orleans) from all over the world. There's a lot of music from the Caribbean and African traditions...which are kind of morphed into their own styles here in New Orleans. That's kind of what we felt like we were doing. Studying the music of West Africa, and then also mixing it with things we grew up with. Trying to create a fresh sound with an authentic voice of our own. So yeah, I think New Orleans has always been a big influence. 
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I would imagine that the rich, eclectic culture of Asheville served as a great environment for a young band. How vital has the Asheville culture been on the evolution of Toubab Krewe?
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Luke: Yeah, I know that it was a great place to grow up for Drew and Justin. There's so much amazing traditional music there. As we came up as a band, the city was growing quite a bit. I think there was a real openness to different styles of music in town. The feedback that we got and the following we developed early on was really special. Asheville was just a really supportive place. I think a lot of artists and more musicians were moving there at the time. It really was a great place for us to start out as a band. Experimenting with music and making it our own. 
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Sounds about right. So, as a percussionist, would you say that your setup and overall style is significantly different than that of a more traditional american band?
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Luke: Yeah, for me, it definitely is. I think it is also for Justin. We have the traditional instruments in the group...drums, bass, and guitar are obviously integrated at the root of most American bands. Justin playing the kora, the 21-string harp from West Africa, and also the 12-string kamel ngonia is obviously much different. For me, the traditional West African instruments that I integrated into the band were the djembe, dunun, sangban, kenkeni, and then there is this log drum called the kryn that I always use as a part of my setup. There is also this metal scraper from southern Mali called the karenye. 
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More recently, I've used the sangban and kenkeni on either side of the djembe...kind of like a conga setup. They're traditional West African drums, and everything that I've brought to the band is typically West African in nature and in terms of instrumentation. I guess my background has included a lot of music from Guinea, Ivory Coast, and Mali, so I've been bringing that language into the band, as well. 
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In that sense, I think what I bring is different than maybe a traditional percussionist in a contemporary American band. They might integrate more congas, bells, blocks, racks, timbales, and stuff like that. Those instruments are more indigenous to Cuban music and music from South America and the Caribbean. So yeah, my setup is pretty unique and specifically West African in nature.
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Watch Toubab Krewe's official video for "That Damn Squash" here:
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Very cool. So, back in March, the band released Stylo, the first studio album since 2010. How long had this material been in the works? 
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Luke: At the end of the run...towards the end of 2014, we were thinking it was probably a good idea to take some time off from the road. We went into the studio in Atlanta with the current roster, which includes Terrance Houston from New Orleans on drums and Justin Kimmel from Brooklyn on bass. Our good friend, Vic Stafford, had revived Southern Tracks Recording Studio in Decatur, GA. He had been doing some new projects from there. We went in for about ten days and cut the majority of the record in late 2014. It was a great session. A lot of the material came about from previous sessions...really just jammin' and flushing out ideas. Longer form jam sessions, which were recorded. 
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We would then go back and instill some of those ideas into tunes. Justin and Drew brought some original tunes to the table. There are some reworked traditional arrangements, which we had done quite a bit on previous records. We kind of sat on it for a couple of years and didn't touch it much until early 2017. Drew, Justin, and I got together over a number of sessions in Asheville and Brooklyn to edit, overdub, and mix the record. It was cool, because all of the material was from late 2014, when we were really tight as a band, touring consistently. 
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We might have been a little burnt out as well, so when we came back to it, we came back with really fresh ears. It was a fresh experience, and we took a creative license to the mixing and editing process. This allowed us to shape the record into the final product. It was a cool process. We were able to encapsulate two time periods of the band. I'm really happy with the way it came out. We had a really good time with it. 
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That's amazing. It seems like the response has been strong, and the album has gotten some great exposure. You mentioned the three to four year touring hiatus. How vital was that time off for the band, and how has the return treated you so far?
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Luke: I think it was really good timing for us. Drew had just started a family and had a young baby. He had time to really focus on his family. I took the opportunity to move to New Orleans in September of 2014. That was great for me. I really got to branch out and play music with a lot of different people here. I know Justin spent a lot of time in Miami and Asheville. I think it was really good timing and a nice reset for the band. It allowed us all to do a lot of playing in casual, different settings. 
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Playing on the road with one project for so many years...it's such an intense focus. I think that this gave us a chance to recharge and realign some life goals. We've been really psyched to be back at it. It was a lot of fun to get together to finish the album. The response from the road has been great. Catching up with fans that we haven't seen in several years. I think everything has been great. We've been having some really great shows. Digging into this new material has been really fun too. 
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I guess we did our first run back in the fall of 2017, which allowed us to 'warm up'. Then we dropped the record this spring, and we've been out for a number of dates in Colorado, the northeast, and southeast. This summer, we're obviously focusing on festivals. We had still been doing a few festivals and one-offs during 2015 and 2016, but we didn't really focus on getting back to the road until we were prepping the album. It's been great to get back out there and gauge the response with the new music. 
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I love hearing that. Before we wrap up, you guys are playing CukoRakko Fam Jam in Birmingham on Saturday. What would you tell your casual music fan who might be walking into their first Toubab Krewe experience?
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Luke: I would say that they can expect a dance party, for sure. A lot of the music is heavy dance music. Also, I think they can expect a merging a worlds and cultures. They may hear a style of music that they've never heard before. If they have heard West African music, they might be experiencing it through a different lens. I think whether folks want to be on their feet dancing, or just listening and deciphering the different influences, I think it works for both experiences. 

Every show is different. The band prides itself on really allowing the music to move us and the crowd together. We want to take the whole experience to a new place that we might not have thought we'd get to. We're always open to seeing where the music takes us artistically, musically, and spiritually. I think it's going to be a great time. We haven't played in Birmingham too much, so I'm really looking forward to playing there in a nice, outdoor setting. 


Phish Announces 14-Date Fall Tour, Halloween in Vegas May 15, 2018 13:39

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Photo by Keith Griner: Phierce Photo
Press Release via Phish.com
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Phish will hit the road in October for a 14-date Fall Tour beginning October 16 with two nights in Albany, NY and concluding with a four-night Halloween Run (beginning October 31) at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The tour also includes three-night stands in Chicago, IL, Hampton, VA and two nights in Nashville, TN.

A limited number of tickets are available now at tickets.phish.com through Tuesday, May 29 at 9AM ET. Tickets go on sale to the general public beginning June 1 and continuing through June 2. For more info, visit phish.com.

10/16 Times Union Center, Albany, NY
10/17 Times Union Center, Albany, NY
10/19 Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, VA
10/20 Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, VA
10/21 Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, VA
10/23 Ascend Amphitheater, Nashville, TN
10/24 Ascend Amphitheater, Nashville, TN
10/26 Allstate Arena, Chicago, IL
10/27 Allstate Arena, Chicago, IL
10/28 Allstate Arena, Chicago, IL
10/31 MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, NV
11/01 MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, NV
11/02 MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, NV
11/03 MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, NV

Phish and CID Entertainment are also offering travel packages (which include hotel & tickets) for Hampton, Chicago and the Halloween Run. Travel Packages go on sale Thursday, May 31 at Noon local time. Full details available at cidentertainment.com/events/phish/.


The Aiken Bluegrass Festival: A Truly Special Tradition May 14, 2018 22:57


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Words + Photos by Nicholas Lintz: Live & Listen
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The Aiken Bluegrass Festival is located down in the Sandhills of South Carolina, nestled on the edge of Georgia. This is prime Equestrian country and home to some incredible music culture. What better way to kick off festival season? This was the 14th annual festival, but you would never even know it because of how well the loving members and volunteers have maintained the grassroots feel. Augusta's Friends With Benefits Productions would also play a hand in this year's festival, which seems like a recipe for continued growth.

It felt like a family reunion, with campground pickings, local vendors, and a variety of local food. This year's festival mainly benefited the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare, and it was a pet-friendly occasion. Beautiful dogs large and small roamed the grounds all weekend. We've included a few of our favorite pups in the photo gallery below. 

This year's Aiken Bluegrass Festival also added a new inside beer hall and stage on the grounds; where you could get out of the mid-day heat, grab a cold drink, and listen to some music. After every show outside, there was immediately a show inside, so you were never forced to miss any bands or be in the heat too long. With massive groups like Greensky Bluegrass, Leftover Salmon, The Larry Keel Experience, Jon Stickley Trio, Billy Strings, and many more playing the festival it still felt homey. While Bluegrass was the focus, many of these groups can't help but push the envelope on this genre. We heard classic rock, Dead tunes, and even 90's covers.

Friday night was headlined by Leftover Salmon while the late-night show on Friday involved Vince Herman's Leftover Jam where as many as 12 + members from both the Friday and Saturday shows joined Vince up on stage at one time until 1:30 in the morning. Saturday drew in some last minute heavy rainstorms, but nothing stopped the music or dancing. There were great tunes all day then Greensky managed to draw a massive crowd at night as they blew our minds with their "rock-n-roll" bluegrass mentality. Then late-night Billy Strings took us home with a 'Psychedelic Circus' that left many speechless.

To be completely honest, it was extremely difficult for me to pinpoint what made Aiken Bluegrass Festival so beautiful and special this weekend. I am not sure if it was the intimate shows with some of the biggest acts in bluegrass, the incredible layout and land, the home-grown volunteers and vendors, or all the beautiful dogs and people. All I know for sure is that I "Love ABF" and will be sure to never miss it again.

Watch a clip of Billy Strings' performance here:

Watch a clip of Love Canon performing "Solsbury Hill" here:

 


Widespread Panic Announces Multiple Three-Night Runs May 14, 2018 15:11

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Photo by Ryan Lewis: Rylewphoto
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Widespread Panic has added twelve new shows to the 2018 calendar. Additions include three nights at Ascend Amphitheatre in Nashville, TN (8/31-7/2), three nights at St. Augustine Amphitheatre in St. Augustine, FL (9/14-16), three nights at Riverside Theater in Milwaukee, WI (10/19-21), and three nights at Park Theatre Las Vegas in Las Vegas, NV (10/26-28). Tickets for all twelve shows go on sale soon. Head over to the band's official website for further details.

Watch Widespread Panic perform "Smokestack Lightning w/ Luther Dickinson at Wanee Festival here:
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The Road to CukoRakko: Tanner Brown of Steady Flow May 14, 2018 14:38

Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

If you're a music lover in Alabama, you've more than likely heard about an amazing grassroots festival known as CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival. Founded in 2014, the festival has been held twice a year at Horse Pens 40 in Steele, AL. As this concept has continued to evolve each year, festival producers have decided to bring the spring festival to Birmingham's Avondale Brewing Company on Saturday, May 19th, while still having plans for a full-weekend festival in October.

The spring festival will now be known as CukoRakko Fam Jam, a one-day event held in the heart of Birmingham which features a wide variety of world class talent from across the country. As we prepare for another unforgettable CukoRakko experience, we're sitting down and getting to know a few of this year's performers. For our first installment, we caught up with Tanner Brown, lead guitarist of Steady Flow. See below for the full interview, and stay tuned for additional preview coverage in the near future.

From the Heart of the Midwest, Steady Flow brings a unique style of powerful funk music like you've never heard it before. Formed in 2012 by 18 year old, soul guitarist extraordinaire, Tanner Brown, and his older brother, Ky "Goonie-Mom" Brown on bass guitar, the group has now transformed into a six-piece funk-powerhouse, quickly claiming their spot as one of the best live acts around.

In Steady Flow's short existence, the group has taken on music festivals such as North Coast, Summer Camp, Phases of the Moon, and the list goes on. The band is constantly turning heads at every performance as their hard hitting Funk Rock compositions shake the room and force all audiences to dance, rage, & simply feel good.

Steady Flow released their first EP, "The Oneoff Sessions" in 2013, and their debut album, "Loud." in June 2015. The band released their newest full length album, "Do You Like That?" in April 2017! Do not miss a live show near you. Steady Flow is "The Future Of Funk."

Click Here: Purchase CukoRakko Fam Jam Tickets

Steady Flow came to life in 2012 and has since evolved into a six-piece power funk force. How did things begin, and when did you realize that this band had serious potential?

Tanner: When I was a junior in high school, I started to obsess over any type of music that made people’s asses shake.  Once I discovered The Meters and Funkadelic, I knew it was something I needed to be involved in. My brother and I have been playing music together since we were toddlers. When I was 12 and he was 15, we played in a cover band with our dad on vocals. So, we were always surrounded by music, and knew we we’re going to be in a band together. It was just a matter of time. Our shared interest of rock ’n roll and hip-hop converted to funk, and we started writing grooves.

I remember posting flyers up at our community college that said “Looking for horn players and keyboardist to join funk band.” That’s how I met Cody “The Sensei” Ward on sax. The rest is history. We just had fun playing together and when we performed live, it seemed to rub off on people. I think we realized our potential when we first headlined the coolest venue in our hometown, the Peoria Riverfront Landing and over 800 people showed up. We freaked out, big time.

You released the debut EP, The Oneoff Sessions, in 2013 and followed with the debut album, Loud, in 2015. It's been just over a year since your second album, Do You Like That? How do you feel the band has progressed over these three releases?

Tanner:  Oh, wow. We’ve learned a lot. The first two releases, we had no idea what we were doing. Our last album Do You Like That? shows the band maturing quite a bit and getting a lot tighter. We went through some turnover with our lineup during the first two releases, so I feel like Do You Like That? is our first real album, you know?

Have any plans been made for your next studio release?

Tanner:  Absolutely. We’re putting out a new record this Summer. That’s all I can say right now.

Watch Steady Flow's music video for "Do You Like That?" here:

The touring schedule has clearly picked up as the band has grown in popularity. How valuable has this experience been for your growth, both individually and as a band?

Tanner:  Insanely valuable. For one, it’s a miracle if you can find a group of guys that are willing to drop everything and travel around the country playing music. It’s a tough living, no doubt; so many ups and downs.. But when you’re surrounded by great band mates, as well as fans that enjoy the music and atmosphere, nothing beats it. You learn a lot about each other when you’re confined to a van and hotel rooms every day. The funny part is, when we started the band, none of us would ever just “hang out.” Our personalities were way too different.. But now that we’ve been on the road so much, we’ve grown into this crazy family with hundreds of inside jokes, which by the way is the only way to get through a tour. Inside jokes. Stupid ones.

I'm always particularly intrigued by the song-writing mechanics within a predominantly instrumental band. How does Steady Flow go about creating new music?

Tanner:  It’s always changing. When I write, it’s very riff based. So, I’ll have a guitar riff that I’ll send to Cody (Ward) and say, “do whatever you want with this..” Everybody throws their ideas into the mix. Sometimes Cody will write a tune, 100% by himself, and bring it to us.  For me, I’m always thinking about drum patterns/grooves before I even think of melody, which might be uncommon. But I like finding beats/feels that we haven’t touched yet, and build from there, all while picturing a live show atmosphere. I went to so many shows growing up that when I write tunes, I’m thinking about being in the audience, and what I’d like to see and feel.

I feel like the jam/funk scene is as strong as it's ever been in 2018. You've had the chance to share the stage with some killer bands, both at festivals and clubs. What are a few of the highlights?

Tanner:  Last year, George Porter Jr. of The Meters sat in during our set at Peoria Blues & Heritage Festival. And like I said before, if it wasn’t for The Meters, there would be no Steady Flow. So that was a “Holy shit” moment for me. We played “Just Kissed My Baby” and I almost pissed myself. Other than that, we had Sammi Garret from Turkuaz sit in with us recently at one of our sold out shows in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. They are one of the hottest funk bands on the scene right now so that was a fun moment. We’ve also been rocking with our homie, Boogie T, a sick emerging DJ from New Orleans and one of the coolest dudes i’ve ever met.. Flava Flav sat in on drums with us in Wisconsin. That was a trip.  I’m trying to get Action Bronson to sit in with us at Summer Camp in a few weeks, so hopefully I can report back and update this list of awesome-sauce.

You'll be playing as the sun sets at CukoRakko Fam Jam in Birmingham on Saturday. What can attendees expect from you guys?

Tanner:  All of us sweating our asses off. Giving it 110%. A lot of head banging and booty shakin’. Kicking off the festival season proper. See you there.

Click Here: Purchase CukoRakko Fam Jam Tickets


Little Raine Band, Winston Ramble, & Taylor Hunnicut Joining Forces May 09, 2018 09:52

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Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography
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Friday night looks to be another major night for the Birmingham music scene, as local favorites Little Raine Band, Winston Ramble, & Taylor Hunnicutt team up at Avondale Brewery. All three groups have built substantial, loyal followings in recent years, while also being known for some unforgettable collaborations. Taylor Hunnicutt, one of the area's most promising young talents, is set to kick things off at 6:30 PM, with sets from Winston Ramble and Little Raine Band to follow. With an absolutely perfect weather forecast in the mix, this is sure to be an electric occasion full of jams from several of the best Alabama has to offer. 
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In preparation for this special night, we recently caught up with Jud Mize, Ben Benefield, and Justin Oliver from Winston Ramble for a quick interview. This past year has been a big one for this band, as they have ventured out across the country while continuing to expand their fan base across the southeast. See below for the full interview, and make sure to RSVP to this show's official Facebook event page for all of the latest updates.
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Share this post directly from the Live & Listen Facebook page and tag a friend in the comments section for a chance to win a pair of tickets to see Little Raine Band, Winston Ramble, & Taylor Hunnicutt at Avondale Brewery on Friday, May 11th.
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How has this past year of touring treated the band?

Jud: Overall, it’s been productive. We have learned a lot about ourselves and are figuring out all the little things that help to bring the big picture together.

Ben: It’s definitely made us a lot closer as a group. Musically and otherwise. I think more than anything it’s shown us what we’re capable of and the potential that we really do have as a band

What has life on the road taught you as a musician?

Justin: It’s been great playing so much and getting the sound tight. I can really tell a difference, musically, if we’ve been playing on the road for a couple weeks. It makes it really fun for us to be firing on all cylinders and frees us up to be a little more experimental live. When someone hears us for the first time and we’ve been on the road, I know they’re going to hear the best version of us.

Where do you find inspiration when writing new material?

Ben: From everyday situations really. That’s a tricky question, because I could give you a different answer for almost every song. I wish I could say only happy things, but honestly when the inspiration hits, you just have to be ready to ‘receive’ it. I’ve had lyrics come to me at work in the middle of a big project and even woken up from a dead sleep in the middle of the night with an idea. Same with the music. A lot of times riding down the road with the radio off, a rhythm will come to my mind and it just builds from there.

Does the band have plans to hit the studio in 2018?

Jud: Yes...we have already recorded three songs at The Nuthouse in Sheffield (AL) and plan to record more tracks before fall.

Justin: Absolutely. We’ve been waiting on all the pieces to fall into place to release two new singles we already recorded in the Shoals. Russ Randolph (formerly of Boom Box) produced those tracks for us at The Nutthouse in Sheffield, and we had some of the guys from Little Raine Band and Tragic City help us throw some magic on em. They’re definitely a progression from the last album, we wanted to showcase more of our electric side with these. We’re also looking to hit the studio again with more before the year is over. You’ll be able to get a sneak peek at live versions for some of those at Avondale.

What's on the horizon for Winston Ramble this summer and fall?

Ben: The sky’s the limit as far as we’re concerned. We just signed with Nimbleslick Entertainment Agency, and we absolutely love what we do and the team we have in place right now. We have so much fun meeting new people and playing for them, especially for their ‘first Ramble.’ All of the guys in the band have a unique style and, since knowing each other for so long, we’re all pretty comfortable and confident with each other and with what we can do with each other musically. 

Hopefully, we can hit at least a couple festivals this summer and have a new album or EP released sometime this fall. People always ask us about our name, and we like to think of it as a Winston-County Ramble coming to town. Hopefully we can bring it to you soon.

Watch Winston Ramble perform "Miss You" with members of Little Raine Band here:
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The Road to CukoRakko: The Russ Liquid Test May 08, 2018 22:17

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Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
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If you're a music lover in Alabama, you've more than likely heard about an amazing grassroots festival known as CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival. Founded in 2014, the festival has been held twice a year at Horse Pens 40 in Steele, AL. As this concept has continued to evolve each year, festival producers have decided to bring the spring festival to Birmingham's Avondale Brewing Company on Saturday, May 19th, while still having plans for a full-weekend festival in October.

The spring festival will now be known as CukoRakko Fam Jam, a one-day event held in the heart of Birmingham which features a wide variety of world class talent from across the country. As we prepare for another unforgettable CukoRakko experience, we're sitting down and getting to know a few of this year's performers. For our first installment, we caught up with none other than the headliner, Russ Liquid of The Russ Liquid Test. See below for the full interview, and stay tuned for additional preview coverage in the near future.

Share this post directly from the Live & Listen Facebook page and tag a friend in the comments section for a chance to win a pair of tickets to CukoRakko Fam Jam. We will announce the winner on Monday, May 14th.

Redefining the possibilities of modern music, The Russ Liquid Test fuses the raw vitality of classic funk and the inventive sound design of electronic production. Songwriter/producer and renowned brass specialist Russell Scott heads up the New Orleans-based band. Guitarist Andrew Block and drummer Deven Trusclair round things out, with each providing a distinct musical background deeply rooted in the New Orleans jazz scene. A kinetic energy infuses each the band giving way to a mixture of funk/jazz/electro. The Russ Liquid Test evokes a kaleidoscope of textures, senses, and moods. At the heart of The Russ Liquid Test is an improv-driven musicality.
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The studio workhorses are continually putting out new music and have quite a few releases up their sleeves for 2018. The Russ Liquid Test creates a joyful sense of synergy in their high-powered live shows, with recent appearances including Shambhala Music Festival, Lightning in a Bottle, Summer Camp, and Sonic Bloom, among others. No matter the setting, a clear multidimensionality can always be heard in The Russ Liquid Test’s projects. “We want to make people feel good but also give them something to reflect with,” says Scott. “It’s not about just making party music or music that’s more introspective—it’s for the full gamut of human expression, and we want it to be just as dynamic as life itself.”
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Let's start off by talking about your musical background. You've built a strong reputation as a multi-instrumentalist. How did you get started?

Russ: I guess I was always interested in music. My mother was the choir director for the church we attended, so I kind of got started through the church. I learned piano first, then came the trumpet. Woodwinds were next. I guess you could say one led to the other. 

Tell me a little about the formation of the band: The Russ Liquid Test. You guys put out your debut EP, 1984, back in 2016. You've since released a follow up EP. How did you get together? Tell me about the dynamic of this band.

Russ: Well, it's always been a goal of mine to get back to playing music with other people. That's what I come from. When I met Andrew Block (guitar) doing the Gramatik tour, that's when I kind of knew that this was the time to do it. He shares similar musical tastes and understandings. He wants to do the same things that I do, so it really seemed like the perfect thing to do. We had a few different drummers before we met Deven (Trusclair), but once we met him, it felt like it was meant to be. He's one of my favorite people, and also one of my favorite drummers. 

I feel like there are still a fair amount of people out there who don't understand the dynamics of a live electronic band. Can you elaborate on how this concept works for The Russ Liquid Test?

Russ: Well, we kind of started out more along the lines of the traditional way that live electronic acts are doing it. They have some sort of backing track being played by a computer, and they supplement that by playing live instruments over it, which is kind of what we've been doing. We're slowly transitioning away from using a computer to play more parts than there are musicians on stage. Figuring out ways to still have the same impact, where we are triggering landscapes and textures, but in a way that's freeing us up from being locked down by a computer...if that makes any sense. 

How about the amount of improvisation that's involved in your live show? I'm always intrigued to hear different artists' approach towards this creative aspect. 

Russ: Our view that we all share on improvisation is that when used correctly, it can be a very powerful thing. However, as with anything, if it is overused, it can really take away from what you're trying to accomplish in the first place. That being said, we really like the power of a song. The song, to us, has specific parts, so there is variation to how we play each part on each night, but we try to stick the parts to really define what it is that we're going for on each particular song. We like to sprinkle that with moments on improvisation...to kind of add as a build. 

Watch highlights from The Russ Liquid Test's recent Fox Theatre show here:

I also wanted to talk about the New Orleans music scene, and the impact it has made on this band. You had the chance to work with Ivan Neville and Russell Batiste Jr. on your debut EP. How has it been for you since relocating to the area?

Russ: Andrew Block, our guitarist, is really the person who is responsible for connecting us with these amazing musicians to collaborate with. He's been in New Orleans for around eight years...maybe even ten. He's an amazing guitar player. He's been nominated as one of the top guitarists in New Orleans by OffBeat Magazine. He did that by going out and connecting with the people who he wanted to learn from and associate himself with. He put in a lot a time and effort. So, it was really neat for me when I moved to New Orleans about four years ago. I was just plugged into all the amazing connections that he blood, sweat, and teared to make. He kind of gave The Russ Liquid Test an unfair advantage to just be plugged into having guys like Ivan Neville and Russell Batiste on our debut EP.

Well sometime's it really is a 'right place, right time' thing, you know?

Russ: It really is. I'm always trying to keep an optimistic perspective on all of the events that happen in my life. You never know where an opportunity can lie. That's kind of been the whole thing with this band. I was living in the Bay Area, and my place burned down. I was a bit of a transient while I was touring with Gramatik. That's when I met Andrew, and he suggested that I move to New Orleans, so we could make music together. It's kind of one of those things where good comes from bad. I don't think I would've made that decision had my place not burned down. 

No kidding...

Russ: That's my philosophy of life, you know? You have your freedom of perspective. That's the only thing that is free. Truly freedom.

I think that's accurate. It's crazy how a disaster can turn into a blessing. It's almost as if it was meant to be in the long run.

Russ: Yeah...and it's really easy to drown in your own sorrows, but if you can stay afloat, you'll be able to see land. There's my daily preach for today. (laughs)

I also wanted to ask about RLT's sophomore EP, World Gone Crazy, which was released in November on GRiZ's label, All Good Records. Was this experience much different than 1984?

Russ: It was somewhat of a similar experience. I would say that the biggest difference between the two is that we didn't collaborate with as many people this time. 

You've had the opportunity to share the stage with a wide variety of amazing performers. What are a few recent highlights?

Russ: We recently did a tour supporting Umphrey's McGee. On the last night, they asked me to sit in on a Herbie Hancock track, "Hang Up Your Hang Ups." I got to play saxophone, and I kind of associate myself as being a trumpet player. They insisted that I play sax, so for me, that was a really cool moment to have really crushing musicians ask me to play sax. It was so much fun. Even more than that, we just played Red Rocks with our homie OPIUO. There was a huge orchestra. I've known Oscar (OPIUO) for probably nine years now. He's one of my closest friends. It was really neat to see him headline Red Rocks with a full orchestra. I was really stoked for him. I played keys/horns and Andrew played guitar. 

That sounds amazing. With the Umphrey's sit-in, was that much of a challenge? What's the transition like between the trumpet and saxophone?

Russ: It's different fingerings and some of the same muscles, but a little bit different. To be honest, it's pretty easy. I play trombone too, and it's way harder to go from trombone to trumpet, or vice versa, than to go from trumpet to sax or trombone to sax. Even though the trumpet and trombone have the same type of mouthpiece. The saxophone has a reed, the other ones just a brass piece of metal. For whatever reason, when you play the trumpet and then go to the trombone, the mouthpiece is so much bigger. It feels like you're swimming. If you do it vice versa, it definitely feels weird. 

Before we wrap up, you're obviously headlining the CukoRakko Fam Jam in Birmingham on May 19th. What can attendees expect from The Russ Liquid Test?

Russ: Oh yeah, that's gonna be fun. Get ready to dance, and if you don't like a certain song, give it a second. We'll be playing something completely different in about one minute (laughs).

Click Here: Purchase CukoRakko Fam Jam Tickets

Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography


Pigeons Put the F.U. in Fun & Funk Over Sold Out Brooklyn Bowl Run May 08, 2018 13:14

Words by Kenny Cunningham: Live & Listen

Photos by John R. Wisdom Photography

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong is one of the hottest up-and-coming acts in the jam scene, and this weekend at Brooklyn Bowl proved why. Not many bands are capable of filling up the Bowl for one night, nonetheless three, especially when considering that they were up against Jazz Fest, which annually brings many New Yorkers down to NoLa. But the Pigeons had their flock out in full force, packing out the Brooklyn venue and keeping the full house grooving all weekend.Their astronomical rise through the scene has been a joy to watch, and it makes total sense; musically, they bring the heat and provide what their crowd is there for—funky, danceable bass lines, power drumming, soaring peaks. Performance-wise, they are top-notch, with a lighting design that matches the enthusiasm of the band onstage, and they just look like they’re having so much damn fun!

This weekend showcased all of those reasons that Pigeons are experiencing this meteoric ascent, from their choreographed playing and superb lighting design to their high energy stage presence to the dancey funky fun they bring. Beginning Thursday night, it was apparent that the crowd was ready to get down. And the Pigeons didn’t disappoint! They opened the first night with “Whoopie,” with rhythm guitarist “Scrambled” Greg Ormont, lead guitarist Jeremy Schon, and bassist Ben Carrey engaged in a choreographed head-nod dance move. And the fun continued straight from there until the encore on Saturday night.

The band played 6 sets without repeats and many fun covers, including “Hava Nagila” (a fun Pigeons staple), “Hyrule Castle” (the theme song from classic Nintendo video game “Zelda”), “I Just Can’t Wait to be King” (from The Lion King), the Star Wars “Cantina Song” and “Imperial March,” the Beatles’ “Get Back,” The Velvet Underground’s “Rock & Roll,” “Tequila,” Michael Jackson’s “Pretty Young Thing,” and The Who’s “Pinball Wizard.” And they of course broke out some of their most popular hits, like “F U,” “Fun In Funk,” “Julia,” “Poseideon,” “Horizon,” and “Melting Lights.” Each set was fun, funky, spacey, raging, and different. The energy inside Brooklyn Bowl was off the charts, and the crowd was dancing and having as much fun as the band!

Brooklyn Bowl plays host to many great bands, nights, and shows, and these three soldout PPPP shows should stand near the top of performances there. When Pigeons wrapped up on Saturday night with “Zydeko,” the crowd was not ready for the fun to end! And the way Pigeons are going, it doesn’t have to! They can be seen next at Domefest, their curated festival in Bedford, PA, from 5/17-5/19, as well as at Summer Camp Music Festival (Chillicothe, IL 5/25-5/27), Great South Bay Music Festival (Patchogue, NY 6/14), Peach Music Festival (Scranton, PA 7/19), LOCKN’ (Arrington, VA 8/25), and many other great events throughout the summer. 

Setlist: Pigeons Playing Ping Pong - Brooklyn Bowl - 05.03.18

Set One: Whoopie, Somethin’ For Ya > Havana > Spacejam > The Hop > F.U., Fortress, Porcupine, Hava Nagila > Schwanthem

Set Two: Too Long > Upfunk > Hyrule > Upfunk > Drums > Upfunk, Dawn A New Day, Kiwi > I Just Can’t Wait To Be King, Burning Up My Time > Condenser > Su Casa > Condenser, Doc

Encore: Sail On

Setlist: Pigeons Playing Ping Pong - Brooklyn Bowl - 05.04.18

Set 1: Fun In Funk, Live It Up, Penguins > Funkijam > Time To Ride > Cantina Song > Time To Ride, Bad For You, Fox And Toad, Get Back*

Set 2: Totally, Sunny Day, Horizon > Offshoot, Walk Outside, White Night > Imperial March > White Night, Ocean Flows

Encore: King Kong

Notes: * w/ Jon Brady (Electric Love Machine) on keys
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Setlist: Pigeons Playing Ping Pong - Brooklyn Bowl - 05.05.18

Set 1: Pop Off, Poseidon, Drunk People, Landing > Jam > Rock and Roll > Funk E Zekiel, Julia

Set 2: J-Town > Melting Lights > Jam* > Fade Fast, High As Five > P.Y.T. > Pinball Wizard > High As Five, The Liquid, Henrietta, Skipjack

Encore: Zydeko

Notes: * w/ Tequila tease

Watch Pigeons Playing Ping Pong close out the three-night run with "Zydeko" here:


Jam Cruise Reveals Stacked Lineup For 2019 May 03, 2018 13:43

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Photo by Keith Griner: Phierce Photo
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It's hard to believe that it's already time to start planning for 2019, but many are scrambling to do so today. Jam Cruise, one of the most highly anticipated destination events of the year, has revealed yet another stacked lineup for its 17th installment. Amongst the 2019 lineup will be Umphrey's McGeeGalacticKarl Denson's Tiny UniverseKamasi WashingtonKhruangbinHot Tuna Electric w/ Steve KimockLeftover SalmonThe MotetALOSpafford, TurkuazTAUK Fruition, and many more.  Pre-book cabin selection runs May 10-14, with the Public On Sale May 16th. See below for the complete lineup, and head over to the official Jam Cruise website for further details. 
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Check out the official Jam Cruise 16 (2018) recap here:
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SweetWater 420 Festival: A Weekend We Will Never Forget April 26, 2018 18:01

Words by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

Photos by Craig Baird: [Home Team Photography] & Ryan Lewis [Rylewphoto]

Growing up in the southeast, I became accustomed to traveling to Atlanta to see my favorite bands at an early age. Weekend excursions to The Tabernacle became a regular occurrence by the time I was in high school, with plenty of trips to The Fox Theatre and Variety Playhouse mixed in as well. Just last year, I finally made plans to attend SweetWater 420 Festival, which was clearly becoming one of the premier festivals in the country. Following that weekend, it was clear that this would become my latest annual tradition. No excuses.

After a lineup which featured two nights of Widespread Panic, Trey Anastasio Band, moe., Ween, and Dark Star Orchestra (just to name a few), festival organizers had their work cut out for them. When the initial lineup dropped in mid-October, it almost felt like they were reading my mind. Umphrey’s McGee, Sturgill Simpson, and Tedeschi Trucks Band sat atop this lineup, along with Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Vulfpeck, Papadosio, Anders Osborne, Spafford, and many more. The second wave would ultimately include The String Cheese Incident, Greensky Bluegrass, Ghostland Observatory, The Infamous Stringdusters, and the young phenom Brandon “Taz” Niederauer.

Once the schedule was released, plans were made to arrive early on Friday afternoon. Southern Avenue was rocking the Planet 420 Stage in full force, and The Record Company was getting started on the main stage shortly after. We made a point to catch a nice segment of both sets and couldn’t have asked for a better way to start the weekend. This was my first opportunity to see either of these bands live, and I’ll definitely be making a point to see both again.

If you follow the festival scene at all, you’ve surely seen the hype surrounding Spafford. This band has taken the jam world by storm, selling out just about every venue on the schedule. This would be my first live experience with them as well, and I was totally floored. The band came out swinging the “Backdoor Funk” and “The Remedy” and continued with killer takes on “Windmill,” “Lovesick Melody,” and “Minds Unchained.” They closed out the set with Tom Petty’s “You Don’t Know How It Feels,” and I think everyone was wishing we had a second set. I was fortunate enough to attend to Spafford’s late night show at Variety Playhouse, which seemed to be the hottest ticket in town. This set included some amazing takes on “Electric Taco Stand,” “All My Friends,” “Salamander Song,” “All In,” and a cover of Men at Work’s “Down Under.”

Watch Spafford perform "You Don't Know How It Feels" here:

Sturgill Simpson was up next on the main stage. This would be he and his band’s first performance since October 14th, and it was clear that these guys were ready to rock. Highlights from this set included originals such as “Turtles All The Way Down” and “Keep It Between The Lines,” while the cover of Freddie King’s “Going Down” really got the crowd moving. While Sturgill has one of the most unique, powerful voices I’ve ever heard, his guitar playing is equally impressive. He’s one of the most talented performers I’ve ever watched, and it’s exciting to think about what the future holds.

The String Cheese Incident has been very kind to Atlanta in recent years. The past two summers have featured some amazing two-night runs at Chastain Park Amphitheatre, and expectations were high for Friday night’s headlining spot. The band got off to a hot start with “Sirens,” “Let’s Go Outside, and “Song In My Head.” The Motet’s Lyle Divinsky and Dave Watts, along with local Atlanta vocalist Rhonda Thomas, joined in on “Get To You,” before a cover of Jamiroquai’s “Space Cowboy” and “Believe” closed out the set.

Cheese returned to the stage with young star Brandon “Taz” Niederauer, who traded licks with Michael Kang and Bill Nershi throughout “Close Your Eyes.” Second set highlights also included “Beautiful,” “Joyful Sound,” “Rollover,” and “Restless Wind.” The crowd had a chance to sing “Happy Birthday” to drummer Michael Travis during the encore, and Taz + Rhonda Thomas would return for the closer, “I Saw The Light.”

Saturday may have been my favorite day of the weekend, and there are a number of reasons why. One of my favorite regional bands, Funk You, kicked things off with an amazing set on the main stage. The band welcomed The Brotherhorns for the entirety of the set, and the Augusta natives brought out an impressive crowd for the early set. Funk You delivered a number of killer originals before closing things out with The Village People's "Kung Fu Fighting" with a little help from three dancers dressed as Gumby. Why not?

Watch Funk You perform "Kung Fu Fighting" here:

Anders Osborne was up next on the main stage, and I could listen to this guy for days. Anders has one of the most soothing voices you will find, and his songwriting is tough to beat. As is the case at most festivals, you're forced to cut several sets earlier than you'd like, and I knew I couldn't miss a minute of Marco Benevento. As a longtime fan of the Benevento Russo Duo, it's been remarkable to watch Marco's career flourish. This was my first chance to see his solo band, and it was easily one of the weekend highlights. This set was jam packed with energy from start to finish, and I was floored by bassist Karina Rykman. They gave us an amazing cover of Butthole Surfers' "Pepper" and had the entire crowd going wild as they closed out with "At The Show."

Brandon "Taz" Niederauer was arguably the star of the weekend. While he made guest appearances with all three headliners, he and his band provided an incredible set on Saturday afternoon. The last time I'd seen Taz in Atlanta, he was tearing through a guitar solo as his mentor Col. Bruce Hampton tragically passed away on stage. Watching him perform "I'm So Glad" in Bruce's honor was a truly special moment. While his guitar playing is essentially indescribable, this "kid" can really sing too. 

While this weekend had many peak moments, Joe Russo's Almost Dead was my personal main event. Thankfully, the second wave of artist announcements included a second set for JRAD, which set us up for an unforgettable evening. A lengthy jam led into "Cats Down Under The Stars," while "Feel Like A Stranger" would follow. A beautiful take on "The Wheel" led into a rockin' "Estimated Prophet," which segued perfectly into "He's Gone" to close the set. The second set was as strong as anything I've seen from these guys. "Shakedown Street" set the tone right off the bat and moved straight into "I Need A Miracle." The set continued with "Ramble On Rose," and "China Cat Sunflower" > "I Know You Rider," before "Not Fade Away" and "One More Saturday Night" closed out the set on the highest of notes. I could go on for days about this band. Here's to hoping that they become regular performers at this festival.

While I hated to miss The Infamous Stringdusters and Ghostland Observatory, we solidified our spot front and center for Tedeschi Trucks Band. This was the most intriguing storyline of the weekend for me, as I knew this JRAD > TTB sequence would be outrageous. To no one's surprise, TTB came out firing with a downright spiritual set which included classics such as "Made Up Mind," "Part of Me," and "Midnight in Harlem." Susan Tedeschi led a beautiful combo of "Angel From Montgomery" > "Sugaree," and young Taz made his way onto the stage for a monster cover of "Statesboro Blues." Watching he and Derek Trucks trade licks on the Allman Brothers' classic was a moment I'll never forget. Taz would also join the band for the encore which featured Sly & The Family Stone's "Sing a Simple Song" > "I Want To Take You Higher."

Sunday's weather looked questionable all week, and the rainy forecast became a reality early on. This was a familiar situation for those who attended the festival last year, and a little dancing in the rain is good for the soul. Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds kicked things off with a super soulful performance. Greensky Bluegrass would follow with their wildly entertaining serving of jamgrass. This would give us yet another cameo from Taz, who took the lead on the Allman Brothers' "Midnight Rider." We then made our way to the Planet 420 Stage to catch the tail end of TAUK. This band is one of the most talented, dynamic bands on the scene, and we caught them just in time for an incredible cover of Rush's "Tom Sawyer." 

Watch Greensky Bluegrass perform "Midnight Rider" with Taz here:

The bouncing between stages continued as we prepared for Vulfpeck on the main stage. Frequent collaborators Antwuan Stanley, Joey Dosik, and Corey Wong were each on hand for the funky occasion. The set was highlighted by classics such as "Animal Spirits," "1612," "Funky Duck," "Back Pocket," "Christmas in LA," and even a cover of Stevie Wonder's "Boogie On Reggae Woman." Bassist Joe Dart would lead the way through "Dean Town" to close out a high-energy occasion with Vulfpeck. Meanwhile, Papadosio was closing out the Planet 420 stage in powerful fashion. We walked up just in time to catch a sequence which included "Cue," "Garden," and "We Are Water." The energy was palpable as the rain picked up, and the Papadosio dance party was a sight to see. 

The final performance of the weekend belonged to Umphrey's McGee, and they closed out a magical weekend in fine form. They kicked off the set with "Half Delayed" and "Remind Me," before "Booth Love" really got the party moving. "Preamble" would follow before what would become a massive "Mantis" sandwich. The sequence of "Mantis" > "Wife Soup", "Lenny" w/ Taz, "Draconian" > "Mantis" would definitely need to be on any list of weekend highlights. "Wappy Sprayberry" and "Ringo" would put an exclamation point on a wild, rainy set from Umphrey's. The encore began with a very fitting cover of Led Zeppelin's "Fool In The Rain," which was followed by "Ocean Billy" and "The Silent Type." While there were quite a few heavy hitters on this lineup, Umphrey's most certainly justified their spot in closing out the festivities.

As you would expect, there was wide variety of afterparties around Atlanta each night. While many made their way to Variety Playhouse for TAUKing McGee on Sunday night, our crew headed over to one of my favorite venues, Aisle 5. Local favorites Bird Dog Jubilee were set to perform 'A Picture of Hoist' which consisted of songs from the two Phish albums ('A Picture of Nectar' and 'Hoist'). From start to finish, these guys absolutely killed it and provided a perfect ending to our 420 Fest experience. It's always a pleasure catching a show at Aisle 5, and Sunday night was no different.

I've said more than enough at this point, but I'll conclude by saying that I truly believe this was my favorite festival experience to date. You couldn't ask for a better lineup, and Centennial Olympic Park is perfectly structured for a festival of this magnitude. There were a handful of sets that I really wish I could've seen, but it's impossible to catch them all. Festival organizers and the entire staff did an absolutely phenomenal job, and things couldn't have run any smoother. I'm not sure how they will top this year's experience, but I have no doubt that they will. 


Win Tickets to See Fruition in Birmingham on May 3rd April 13, 2018 11:25

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Folk rock stars Fruition are in the midst of a big run through the southeast, which includes a show at Birmingham's Zydeco on Thursday, May 3rd. One might remember their past performance with Yonder Mountain String Band at Workplay, or perhaps their set with Greensky Bluegrass at Avondale Brewery. Regardless, Fruition has undoubtedly been one the hottest rising "jam grass" acts in recent years, and they show no signs of slowing down. They have also been on the road with Jack Johnson for a number of support dates in 2018. The band's first headlining set in Birmingham promises to impress, and we strongly suggest marking your calendars. Make sure to arrive early, as Atlanta's Voodoo Visionary will be providing direct support.
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We're giving away a pair of tickets to Thursday night's show. To enter the contest, share this post directly from our Facebook page. Make sure your settings are designated to 'public', so we can see the share on our end. We will announce a winner at 3:00 PM CST on Thursday, May 3rd.
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Fruition is a folk-rock / Americana band from Portland featuring:
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Jay Cobb Anderson - vocals, lead guitar, harmonica
Kellen Asebroek - vocals, rhythm guitar, piano
Mimi Naja - vocals, mandolin, electric & acoustic guitar
Jeff Leonard - bass 
Tyler Thompson - drums, banjo
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Watch Fruition's official music video for "I'll Never Sing Your Name" here:
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Official Bio: Fruition
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On their fifth full-length, Watching It All Fall Apart, Fruition transform pain and heartache into something truly glorious. With their songwriting sharper and more nuanced than ever before—and their sonic palette more daringly expansive—the Portland, Oregon-based band’s full-hearted intensity ultimately gives the album a transcendent power.
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“The songs are mostly breakup songs,” says Asebroek. “There was love and now it’s gone—we fucked it up, or some outside circumstance brought it to an end. It’s about dealing with all that but still having hope in your heart, even if you’re feeling a little lost and jaded.”
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In a departure from their usual DIY approach, Fruition teamed up with producer/mixer Tucker Martine (My Morning Jacket, The Decemberists, First Aid Kit, case/lang/veirs) to adorn their folk-rooted sound with delicately crafted elements of psychedelia and soul. Showcasing the sublime harmonies the band first discovered during an impromptu busking session in 2008, Watching It All Fall Apart also finds Fruition more fully embracing their rock-and-roll sensibilities and bringing a gritty vitality to each track. “We’ve been a band almost ten years now, and we’re at the point of being comfortable in our skin and unafraid to be whatever we want as time goes on,” Anderson notes. 
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Recorded in ten days at Flora Recording & Playback in Portland, Watching It All Fall Apart came to life with the same kinetic urgency found in Fruition’s live sound. “It’s kind of an impossible task, this idea of transmuting the live energy into something you can play on your stereo, but I feel like this record comes close to that,” says Asebroek. At the same time, the band pursued a purposeful inventiveness that resulted in their most intricately textured work to date. “Tucker helped us push ourselves to create something that glistens in subtle little ways that you might not even pick up on at first,” says Asebroek. “We got to play around with all this analog gear and these weird old keyboards we wouldn’t ordinarily use, like a bunch of kids in a toy store where everything is free.”
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On lead single “I’ll Never Sing Your Name,” that unrestrained creativity manifests in a fuzzed-out, gracefully chaotic track complete with sing-along-ready chorus. Built on brilliantly piercing lyrics (“And all those kisses that you were blowing/Somehow they all got blown right out”), the song echoes the album’s emotional arc by painfully charting the journey from heartache to acceptance. “It’s about going through a breakup, moping around, and then finally getting to the point where it’s like, ‘Okay—I’m done with feeling this way now,’” says Anderson.
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Throughout Watching It All Fall Apart, the band’s let-the-bad-times-roll mentality reveals itself in ever-shifting tones and moods. On the stark and sleepy “Northern Town,” Naja’s smoldering vocals channel the ache of longing, the track’s twangy guitar lines blending beautifully with its swirling string arrangement. One of the few album cuts to have already appeared in Fruition’s setlist, “There She Was” sheds the heavy funk influence of its live version and gets reimagined as a shimmering, soulful number documenting Asebroek’s real-life run-in with an ex at a local bar. Meanwhile, “Turn to Dust” emerges as a weary but giddy piece of psych-pop chronicling the end of a failed romance. The song’s opening lyric also lends the album its title, which partly serves as “a commentary on the general state of the world today,” according to Asebroek. “Even if you’re mostly an optimistic person, it’s hard not to feel down when you look at all the insanity happening right now,” he says.
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While those unflinchingly intimate breakup songs form the core of Watching It All Fall Apart, Fruition infuse an element of social commentary into songs like “FOMO” as well. Written on the Fourth of July, with its references to wasted white girls and cocaine cowboys, the mournful yet strangely reassuring track unfolds as what Anderson calls “an anti-party party song.” “It’s about one of those situations where you said you’d go to party but you really don’t want to go, because you know it’s going to be the same old bullshit,” he says. “The song is a call to defuse that guilt in your brain.” And on the sweetly uplifting “Let’s Take It Too Far,” the band offers one of the album’s most purely romantic moments by paying loving tribute to music as solace and salvation (“But don’t you worry ’bout dyin’/’Cause there’s no better way to go/We’ll sing until we’re out of honey/Then pour the gravel down our throats”).
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From song to song, Fruition display the dynamic musicality they’ve shown since making their debut with 2008’s Hawthorne Hoedown LP. Through the years, the band has evolved from a rootsy, string-centric outfit to a full-fledged rock act, eventually taking the stage at such major festivals as Bonnaroo and Telluride Bluegrass (a set that inspired Rolling Stone to praise their “raucous originals filled with heartfelt lyrics and stadium-worthy energy”). Following the release of 2016’s Labor of Love, Fruition again made the rounds at festivals across the U.S., prompting Rolling Stone to feature the band on its “8 Best Things We Saw” at DelFest 2016.
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In choosing a closing track for Watching It All Fall Apart, Fruition landed on “Eraser”—a slow-building, gently determined epic delivering a quiet message of hope in its final line: “Let it help you heal.” “Because there’s so much heartbreak on this album, we wanted to end on Kellen singing that last line very sweetly,” explains Anderson. “The whole point of having all these sad songs is helping people to let those emotions out—and then hopefully when they get to the end, they feel a little better about everything they’ve gone through along the way.”
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JoJo Hermann Discusses Slim Wednesday, Widespread Panic, & More April 11, 2018 16:45

Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

Photos by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography

The weather may have been less than ideal in Birmingham last Friday, but a little rain wasn't going to spoil the party at Zydeco. JoJo Hermann was in town with Slim Wednesday for the second consecutive year, and the Widespread Panic faithful turned up in masses. This would also be the release date for Slim Wednesday's debut album, The Reptile ShowJust before heading downstairs for a special VIP piano performance and an amazing crawfish boil, I had the chance to sit down with JoJo and discuss a number of topics. See below for our full conversation and make sure to give The Reptile Show a spin as soon as possible. 

It's great to see you again JoJo. Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with me for a few minutes.
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JoJo: Absolutely...likewise. Thank you.
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So we're here at Zydeco in Birmingham. This is the third show of this run, right?
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JoJo: Thats right. We did Nashville on Wednesday and Oxford, Mississippi last night. It's been a great time. 
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I know you have roots in Mississippi. Are you originally from there?
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JoJo: No, not originally. I moved there in 1987. I just went there to visit a friend. Spent a week there, and I never left. 
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Very cool. So how have the first two shows gone thus far?
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JoJo:  Man, the band is dialed in. Everybody's having fun. We had a crawfish boil last night at Proud Larry's. We're going to have one again here tonight. We're playing a bunch of New Orleans music. You know, everybody shares a common love of New Orleans music, those Meters grooves, and that kind of stuff. We're having a great time. 
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I know we talked about Professor Longhair in the past. Did this band originally start as a tribute to his music?
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JoJo: It was basically a Professor Longhair tribute band. We just started playing during Mardi Gras at a place called The Corner Pub in Nashville. The band, and Bill Elder (guitar/vocals), just started cranking out a bunch of songs. Bill started showing them to all of us, and we started working them in. I threw a couple into the pot as well. We eventually had enough to put a record out. 
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I wanted to ask you about that. The Reptile Show was officially released today. Has most of this material been in the rotation for a while, or is it all brand new?
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JoJo: It's all come up in the past year. We got off JamCruise last year, and we really didn't have any originals. I swear, like ten gigs later, we had an entire album's worth of material. Something happened...I don't know what. 
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I noticed that there is a tune called "Dark Bar" on this album. This is not the same version that you've played with Widespread Panic though, right?
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JoJo: Right. I have about ten songs called "Dark Bar." This is a different one. It started as an April Fool's joke with my publisher...that I would start naming songs with the same title. (laughs). 
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Well I love the name of the album (The Reptile Show). I listened to that particular track several times today. What's the story behind the song?
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JoJo: It's just a good ole blues song, really. You know...boy meets girl. Girl ditches boy. Boy is sad. He's pretty much searching for ways to make himself feel better. 
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Do you see that as having potential to make it's way into the Panic rotation?
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JoJo: You know...all songs have that potential. Whoever wants to play whatever. I've done other songs that started out with Smiling Assassins and made their way to over. So...you never know, but we don't think about it too much. 
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On that note, it's been a little over a year now since you guys have cut back on the Panic touring schedule. That has allowed more time for projects such as Slim Wednesday. How has the new schedule been playing out?
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JoJo: It's just different kind of touring. We're still out there playing, but we have more days off in between gigs. It's so weird right now, just in general. I feel like "your dog in the yard," you know? He doesn't know a week from an hour. He's just out there taking it all in. I'm starting to relate to that (laughs). Time is just flying by right now. 
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One thing I've noticed with recent Panic set lists is how you guys have worked in some special themes. There was "Lady's Night" during Halloween, "Gentlemen's Night" over New Year's, and a particularly powerful message sent recently in Birmingham. How has some of that come together?
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JoJo: Just through some formal discussion, really. Songs and various ideas just get thrown out there. Have we done one about animals? I think we have. Someone brings an idea to the table. Whatever pops into someone's head at a particular moment. 
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I wanted to ask you about "Sundown Betty." This was a new original that was debuted at Panic en la Playa and recently played again in Washington DC. Who's tune is that?
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JoJo: Oh yeah...great song. JB brought that one in. He played that one for the band, and everyone just loved it. We brought it in down in Mexico, and yeah, we just played it again recently.
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There seems to be a great buzz about that tune. I've heard several people discussing it as one of the favorite new originals in recent years.
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JoJo: That's fantastic. You just made my day. (laughs)
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Is there much of a story behind the song?
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JoJo: Well...JB wrote the lyrics, so it's hard for me to say. I guess I would say that it's open to different interpretations.
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Well, I know this next topic is a tough one, but I feel compelled to ask you about Col. Bruce Hampton. I was fortunate enough to be at the Hampton 70 concert last year. That was quite the overwhelming experience. I was hoping you could share a few memories of your time with Bruce. 
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JoJo: I remember specifically the first time that I met him was at The South End in Memphis. He was pulling in with Aquarium Rescue Unit. I think they needed a PA. They called us up down in Oxford, and we were so thrilled. They told us they'd let us in the show if we could bring up our PA. We rushed up there and set up. That was the first time I met Bruce. I'll never forget watching ARU that day. Oteil, Matt Mundy, Jimmy, Sipe...I had never seen anything like that. The music that I saw on that stage was life changing. I'd never seen people do that. My last time with Bruce was on Jam Cruise. We played bingo together. 
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Let's talk a little more about recording The Reptile Show. I'm sure this was a little different that some of your other recent studio experiences. 
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JoJo: Yeah so we were on tour last year, and the songs just started coming out of Bill, recently. Everybody else was pitching in. We had a day off in Atlanta, and we went over to Diamond Street Studios. There is a guy there named Spencer Garn. He just puts out these great funk records. It's a little studio over in Little Five Points. We went there in our day off, and over the next two days we recorded and tracked everything. Bill and Spencer took it from there, pretty much. They really turned it into a complete record. 
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Do you foresee any upcoming studio plans with Panic?
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JoJo: Nothing has been specifically discussed, but I'm sure there is something in the works. John Keene, our producer and great friend, he's got a killer studio out in Athens. It's really beautiful out there. I look forward to going back over there. I don't think a date has been set though. 
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Well, before we wrap up, what else do you have coming up on the calendar? I noticed there is a show with The New Orleans Suspects in Denver...
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JoJo: Yeah...a portion of the proceeds from that show are going to the New Orleans Musicians Clinic. I'm also playing in New Orleans with Anders Osborne, Zigaboo, and George Porter Jr as Foundations of Funk at The Howlin' Wolf on April 29th. I just feel so lucky to get invited to do that. I'm really excited about spending time in New Orleans. I'm getting to spend some time in Charleston, too. We're doing two nights at a great new festival called Trondossa, which is happening in May.
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Talk about a killer transition from New Orleans to Charleston. I'd be pretty excited about that as well.
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JoJo: Two really great towns. It's hard to beat that. 
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Well, thanks so much once again. It's always a pleasure chatting with you, and we're really looking forward to tonight's show. Let's go eat some crawfish.
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JoJo: Absolutely. Thanks again for your time, Jordan. 
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Pink Talking Fish Throws Down to Open Two-Night Run at Brooklyn Bowl April 10, 2018 13:49

Words by Kenny Cunningham: Live & Listen

Photos by John R Wisdom Photography

Pink Talking Fish is one of the best “cover” bands out in the scene right now, and have been gaining popularity over the course of the last number of years. And why wouldn’t they be? They combine three of the greatest bands from the ’60s, ’70’s, and ‘80s, but of course they put their own spin on the music. And that was quite apparent on Friday night in Brooklyn.

The boys came out on fire, opening up with a Talking Heads/Phish/Pink Floyd medley of “Uh Oh Love Comes To Town,” “Bathtub Gin,” and “Money.” The transition jam from “Bathtub” into “Money” was incredible, and they brought out Andrew Gatauskas (from Brass Against The Machine) to sit in on baritone sax for Money, which added that amazing extra element that you expect to hear during “Money.” The first set continued with the band bringing it for some classics, like “Mike’s Song,” “Dogs,” and “Psycho Killer.” “Mike’s Song” featured Victor Cornette added another layer on the lights, and an exceptional “Dogs,” with Dave Brunyak shredding some heavy guitar solos.

The second set opened up with a killer version of the Phish classic, “You Enjoy Myself,” and the energy continued to pick up from there! They then launched into “Once In A Lifetime,” and had the crowd rocking and rolling, before returning back to “YEM.” The vocal jam part of the song rivaled any version that I’ve seen Phish do. Next up was Pink Floyd classic “Have A Cigar,” which is always dark and groovy. When PTF began the opening lilt for “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody),” I thought the roof might come off of the Bowl. That song is always a crowd favorite, and the band did not disappoint. They then launched into an ecstatic and raging “Down With Disease,” and “YEM” teases could be heard throughout. The band wrapped up the second set the same way that Dark Side Of The Moon comes to its conclusion: with “Brain Damage” and “Eclipse.”

Pink Talking Fish returned to the stage to close out the opening night of their 2-night weekend run in Brooklyn with a rollicking “Character Zero,” a tune that Phish often uses as an encore vehicle. The consensus among the crowd from Friday night was that PTF is an everimproving band, and each member brings their own style and sensibility to a band that does a superb job of covering the classics from those three great bands.

Between the soaring, ripping guitar playing from Dave Brunyak, the amazing keys work from Richard James, the deep, driving bass playing of Eric Gould, and the sensational drum-playing of Zack Burwick, this band just keeps getting better and better. And because it is a near-impossibility to get another true concert experience from Pink Floyd or Talking Heads, it is wonderful to get any opportunity to hear those songs played live, especially by a band as talented as PTF.

Setlist - Pink Talking Fish - Brooklyn Bowl - April 6th 2018

Set 1: Uh Oh Love Comes To Town, Bathtub Gin > Money* > Nothing But Flowers, Mikes Song > Dogs > Psycho Killer > Dogs > Weekapaug Groove

Set 2: You Enjoy Myself > Once In A Lifetime > You Enjoy Myself, Have A Cigar > Moon Rocks > The Sloth, One Of These Days > This Must Be The Place (Naïve Melody), Down With Disease > Brain Damage > Eclipse

E: Character Zero

*w/ Andrew Gatauskas on Baritone Sax

 


Lotus Brings Trance-Fusion to Historic Capitol Theatre April 10, 2018 13:06

Words by Kenny Cunningham: Live & Listen

Photos by Angelys Ocana: Good People Bad Habits

On Saturday night, April 7th, Philly-based Lotus brought their unique sound of dance grooves, EDM, and funky guitar rhythms to Port Chester’s historic Capitol Theatre. The Cap is such a great space for a band like Lotus, as the inside of the theater provides an excellent backdrop for the light show that accompanies the band’s music. Lotus is well-known for their unique sound, one that has few “rivals” in today’s jamtronica scene. They have become recognized for their late-night festival sets, but also for their fun, dancey, groovy style.

The show opened up with L’Immeuble, and then dropped right into “Wax,” one of their most popular jam vehicles. Luke and Jesse Miller had a lot of fun on the keys and sampler during this song, as Mike Rempel provided his typically-stellar guitar playing. The first set continued with some other Lotus classics, like “Suitcases and Sandwiches,” which the band started, went into another song, and then came back and closed the first set out with the outro. The energy inside the Cap was high, as the crowd was dancing and grooving throughout the first set. The lighting rig added an interesting element, as it helped accentuate some of the darker and funkier jams.

The second set opened with “Inspector Norse,” and the crowd got right back into the action, as Luke Miller went into a super tight keyboard jam. And then on a full-on dance party broke out during “Shimmer and Out” and “Contagion.” Repel provided some soaring guitar solos during the latter, and Mike Greenfield got involved with some dark and driving drum playing.

The band must’ve been having as much fun as the crowd, as they announced after their closing song of the second set that they would be staying on-stage for the encore, as they were running out of their allotted time. They closed the night out with “Midwest Store Fronts,” and the Northeast crowd was able to go home with tired feet and smiles on their faces.


CBDB's Cy Simonton Discusses "Opelika Yella" & Recording a New Album April 06, 2018 08:50

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Words & Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
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It's no secret that we are big believers in the Alabama music scene. The history within this state is as rich as any, and there's no doubt that the future is bright as well. With bands such as Drive-By Truckers, Alabama Shakes, and St. Paul & The Broken Bones paving the path, there is every reason to think the Alabama pipeline will continue to produce major contributors. Tuscaloosa's CBDB is undoubtedly on our short list of contenders, and the band is currently preparing for one of its most pivotal chapters thus far. 

The band's third full-length studio album is scheduled for release on May 5th, and as of 12:00 AM today, the second single "Opelika Yella" is available on all major online music outlets. We recently sat down with frontman Cy Simonton to get the tune's entertaining back story and learn more about what went into this record. Check out our conversation below and make sure to mark your calendars for the album release party on May 5th at Avondale Brewing Company.

Click Here: Purchase Tickets to CBDB's Album Release Party

The new single, "Opelika Yella," obviously makes reference to the band's Alabama roots. It's been in the live rotation for a little while now. What's the story behind the song?
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Cy: Other than "Unintentional Liar," "Opelika Yella" has been in rotation the longest of any of the new material. I'm pretty sure the lick started off in a jam session that Paul and Mike had together in Tuscaloosa. It was kind of a lick that was floating around for a while. After getting some structure, we wanted to build it into a song with a story. We thought of a funny one from the road. 
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I think it was after a gig at the War Eagle Supper Club in Auburn. On the way out of town, and probably after having a few too many drinks, we were outside of a convenience store in the van and this girl walks by. She turns and says, "What did you just call me?" We weren't even talking to her. She ends up just going off, screaming at us. She gets on her phone, makes a call, and tells us she's got some guys from Opelika coming with guns. 
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We knew we needed to get out of there. Paul starts rounding up the guys in the store. Luckily, we got out of there without much more happening. We wrote the tune about that encounter. 
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So this girl would be what you call an Opelika Yella?
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Cy: Yeah, so I think there have been two Opelika Yella encounters in our existence. She was the second. The first also came at the War Eagle Supper Club. It was the only time we've been flashed as a band, thus far. It was this off duty stripper, and she starts flashing us after the show was over to get us to play some more.
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Check out the official promo video for "Opelika Yella" here:

That's hilarious. So, Out Of Line will be the band's third full length album, right?
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Cy: This is the third full length. We did The Fame EP, which was the third recording we did. After that, we did the two singles: "Old Dog" and "She's Mobile." That was when we connected with Dan Davis, who engineered/ produced Out of Line. He was in school at Blackbird in Nashville at the time. We recorded the there, which was pretty sweet. We got to record on the same board that Steely Dan recorded Aja on. 
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Wow. Well let's talk about the new album as a whole. What made the recording process unique from previous experiences?
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Cy: I think this one is cool because we spent the most time with the tunes. We basically recorded the album three times before we actually recorded it. The first time we did it over at Southern Ground, where the final version was recorded. We did it in Studio C, which is one of their smaller rooms. After that, we recorded it at Joe Bleakly's house in Athens, GA. He had just started this studio Sneaker Thief in his home, and we were one of the guinea pigs. 
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We recorded it for a third time with Chris Byron at Amplify Studios in Athens. We met Chris through Nuci's Space, which is a really great place for musicians and bands that we use for practice on the road. Widespread Panic, Drive-By Truckers, and a bunch of other bands donate money to keep it running. They do a lot of awesome work for suicide prevention and awareness.
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Anyway to get back on subject, that's why I think this one has been unique. With each recording, we would notice little details that we wanted to change or think of ideas that were missing. Maybe something wasn't quite working. On past records, we had not been able to do that as much. It was cool to pick through and do that. We also let Dan Davis, our producer, be an outside ear. We definitely trusted his opinions on things. If things were clashing, we would take his advice. He helped us trim some of the fat, you know? We recorded the final version back at Zac Brown’s studio in Nashville, Southern Ground, but this time we were in Studio A. I got to play an original Gibson 335. We had access to unreal gear. Glenn even got to play Gregg Allman’s B3 Hammond organ so that was really cool. All around, an incredible experience. 
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Always a great idea to get an outsider's look in...
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Cy: Yeah, for sure...especially on the recording end. On some of the past records, we'd get into a track, and everyone naturally starts wanting to make adjustments. It kind of gets into a muddy space quickly. We definitely tried to step way back from that, and let Dan and Will (DuPerier) do their thing, sonically, and if there was anything that we felt strongly about, we would let our voice be heard. We wrote the songs, and we were rehearsed and ready to knock them out in the studio. But from there, we let them do their thing. 
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Right on. Let's talk about the album release party on May 5th at Avondale Brewery. What do you guys have planned?
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Cy: Well...obviously it's Cinco de Mayo. We've got some awesome bands lined up to play. I believe Riverbend will be the first band to play and then Flow Tribe after that. We plan on having the Tragic City horns back out to sit in on a few tunes. We've got some surprises planned with those guys. We'll obviously be playing everything off the new record. We're really excited about it, and we were stoked to do it at Avondale Brewery. 
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Candler Park Music & Food Festival Reveals 2018 Lineup April 03, 2018 19:02

Candler Park Music & Food Festival is all set for June 1st - 2nd at Atlanta's Candler Park, and festival organizers revealed yet another amazing lineup earlier today. This year will feature the likes of Gov't Mule, Lettuce, Keller Williams' PettyGrass ft. The HillBendersTwiddle, SUSTO, Larkin Poe, Busty and the Bass & more. Tier 1 ticket prices are on sale now until April 15. General Admission tickets for both days are available for just $25, while VIP (21+ only) are available for both days for just $60. Click here to secure your tickets today, and stay tuned for further preview coverage of one of our favorite annual festivals. 

The best festival value in the Southeast is brewed by Terrapin Beer Co. with special thanks to the sponsors: Old 4th Distillery | Virgil Kaine | Fontis Water | Sweet Auburn BBQ. Candler Park Music & Food Festival is produced by Rival Entertainment.

Check out the 2017 festival recap here:


Win Tickets to See JoJo Hermann's 'Slim Wednesday' in Birmingham April 03, 2018 11:26

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Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography
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It may seem like Widespread Panic just left Birmingham, but JoJo Hermann is scheduled to return to Zydeco with Slim Wednesday on Friday, April 6th. This will be the second consecutive year that Hermann's side project has made a spring appearance in Birmingham, and we can't wait to see what's in store. In addition, the band recently announced the release of their debut album Reptile Show which will be available via all major online music outlets on Friday, April 6th.
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We're giving away a pair of GA tickets to Friday night's show. To enter the contest, simply share this post directly from the Live & Listen Facebook page, tag a friend in the comments. Make sure your privacy settings are set to 'public' so we can see the share on our end. We will announce the winner at 11AM on Friday, April 6th. GA and VIP tickets are also available for purchase by clicking here. VIP tickets include entry to a crawfish boil with JoJo + the band on the patio prior to the show. For all of the latest updates, make sure to RSVP to the official Facebook event
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Click here to check out our interview with JoJo at Zydeco from 2017!
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Watch Slim Wednesday perform "Baby Let Me Hold Your Hand" in Eagle, CO here:
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Widespread Panic Announces Two-Night Run at Mud Island Amphitheater April 02, 2018 14:29

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Photo by Clay Carroll: Carroll Production
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When the Widespread Panic faithful learned that the band would be "cutting back" on touring in early 2017, many feared that they wouldn't be seeing their favorite band nearly as much. Thankfully, this strategy has kept the band fresh and firing on all cylinders, with plenty of dates throughout the year. After successful runs in Mexico, Birmingham, and Washington D.C., the band has now confirmed a two-night run at Mud Island Amphitheater in Memphis TN on Friday, June 29th - Saturday, June 30thTickets on sale this Friday 4/6 at 10AM CT.
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You can also catch Panic performing at Wanee Festival over the weekend of April 19th-21st, as well as two nights at the inaugural Trondossa Music & Arts Festival at Riverfront Park in North Charleston, South Carolina on Saturday, May 5th and Sunday, May 6th, and their annual three-night run at Red Rocks on June 22nd-24th. For all official details, head over to the band's official website.
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Watch Widespread Panic perform "Old Neighborhood" at Mud Island Amphitheater in 2016 here:
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Trey Anastasio Trio To Play Atlanta's Terminal West On April 29th April 02, 2018 11:49

Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography

Phish frontman Trey Anastasio is currently preparing for this month's run of shows, and it appears that an additional performance in Atlanta is now official. It was announced last week they Trey would be performing these shows as a trio, after the recent news that TAB keyboardist Ray Paczkowski had been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Today's announcement confirms that the Trey Anastasio Trio will also be performing Atlanta's Terminal West on Sunday, April 29th as a benefit for the WaterWheel Cancer Fund. Tickets on sale this Friday April 6th at noon. See below for a complete list of this month's TAB trio shows.

Trey Anastasio Trio - April 2018 Tour Dates

April 17th: House of Blues - Cleveland, OH

April 18th: 20 Monroe Live - Grand Rapids, MI

April 20th - 21st: Chicago Theatre - Chicago, IL

April 24th: Iron City Bham - Birmingham, AL

April 26th - 28th: Civic Theatre - New Orleans, LA

April 29th: Terminal West - Atlanta, GA


An Intimate Weekend of Classics in the Capital with Widespread Panic March 20, 2018 17:25

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Words by Erika Rasmussen: Rasmusic
Photos by Jeff Fernandez: Seascape.rocks
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We kicked-off this last Panic weekend in DC in the best possible way, with a cozy little JoJo show at The Pearl Street Warehouse. This family reunion environment set the tone for the rest of the weekend. Big shout out to the sound guy for hooking me up with the setlist. Though certainly bigger than Pearl Street, the MGM Grand at National Harbor only seats 3,000 people. Everyone dedicated enough to head into town got a ticket (as far as I know) and we all got to settle into a weekend of running into your favorite people and your favorite songs. The location within the harbor also kept us bumping into each other all weekend and I, personally, really enjoyed the proximity. We were all united in solidarity.
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Thursday, March 15, featured 6 songs they’ve played less than 100 times. For a band on the run for 32 years, those are fun songs to catch. “Hope in a Hopeless World” was especially fitting during this time and place. We were all treated to “Travelin’ Man”, which hasn’t been played in almost four years and was a FTP for Duane. He killed it, of course. Set 1 closed with two songs from The Band, so I was grinning pretty wildly, considering Levon Helm is my historical man crush. First we got “The Shape I’m In”, which they’ve only played about 28 times and then we got good ole “Ophelia” right before we closed the set with “Porch Song”. The second set was highlighted by “Come Together”, which they’ve only played 7 times before and they haven’t played since ‘05, so clearly Jimmy and Duane hadn’t had a chance to showcase this for us yet. And the song was amazing. I almost gave myself a cardiac arrest running to and dancing at the rail. (Note to self: stop that.) Night 1 closed with “For What It’s Worth”. Interestingly enough, this was a part of their very first show ever at the A-Frame house in ‘85 and they didn’t play it for almost 23 years (‘88-’11). They’ve only played “FWIW” two dozen times before and I’ve been fortunate enough to see 1⁄4 of those performances out of sheer luck. Music gods be praised.
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Friday, March 16, rocked it straight outta the gate with “Chainsaw City”. This song will always remind me (and many, many people on tour) of our beloved Richard Todd and I was thrilled that his memory was a part of our weekend. We were also treated to “Travelin’ Light”. Fun fact: did you know that it’s been played exactly 1013 times before? Little “Arleen” magic for ya.... Many people found “Gradle” to be a big high point for them, considering we hadn’t gotten that song in over a year and it’s just a beautiful song. “Sleepy Monkey” was another popular favorite because, well, it’s “Sleepy Monkey”. The boys came out strong at Set 2 by opening with WAR’s “Slippin’ into Darkness” featuring tour manager, Steve Lopez, on percussion. The song and the manager are fan favorites and when Lopez joins them occasionally onstage for this, it’s a huge treat for everyone involved. A HUGE surprise for me was hearing them break out Robert Johnson’s blues classic “Love in Vain” for the first time ever. But, then again, how many Robert Johnson songs do you NOT like?
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Saturday, March 17, was quite a St. Panic’s Day for all of us. Of course they had to play “Bust it Big”. How can you not play “beware of the man, who builds monuments to himself” in DC right now? A rare song they pulled out for us was “One Kind Favor”. This is a beautiful song and if you don’t know the lyrics, you should go check them out right now. Saturday saw the second ever “Sundown Betty” and it’s nice to see that join the rotation. The most Irish moment of all came in the middle of the encore, sandwiched between “Saint Ex” and “Love Tractor”. JB busted out  “Toura Loura Loura”, the Irish lullaby, with all the heart and soul of Dublin’s finest.
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The weekend accomplished exactly what I’d think the band would  want. We all came together, whether it was pulling last minute tickets for your friends, sharing lodging, or phoning a friend to come spring you out of the hotel basement that you got locked into (long story). I left town with my heart full and my spirit content. I actually spent almost the entire ride home chatting with my new tour bestie (thanks, Jimmy!) and planning my next shows. Let’s carry that love and unity into the year with us. I can’t wait to see all of your smiling faces in Charleston for my Cinco de Birthday show, but I trust you’ll represent the Home Team well in Wanee without this ole girl. It was cold and windy in DC, but I think we’re all feeling the warm fuzzies after this weekend. “Tell me, brother, can you see the sun; From where you’re standing now?”
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Watch video footage of "Come Together" here:
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Watch video footage of "Slippin' Into Darkness" > "Machine" here:
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Watch video footage of "Driving Song" > "Disco" > "Driving Song" here:
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SliceFest Looks To Go "Big" With 2018 Lineup Annoucement March 20, 2018 10:00

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Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography
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Our favorite annual Birmingham street festival will return in 2018, and this year's lineup certainly looks "big." SliceFest, which was founded in 2012, has featured the likes of The Revivalists, GRiZ, Galactic, Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, Keller Williams, Foundations of Funk, North Mississippi Allstars w/ Anders Osborne, JJ Grey & Mofro, and Break Science in years past. Today's announcement includes a wide variety of talent from across the musical spectrum, including Big GiganticThe Original WailersBIG SomethingToo Many ZoozThe VegabondsLUTHITragic CityWill Stewart, Riverbend, Brook & The BluffMutton Chops, and Rug Monkey. Held amidst one of the city's most vibrant entertainment districts, this festival provides a great overall atmosphere within a nearly perfect setting. Mark your calendars for Saturday, June 16th, and click here to purchase your tickets in advance.  
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As part of our SliceFest preview coverage, we're giving away a pair of general admission tickets to this year's event. To enter the contest, head over to the Live & Listen Facebook page, share this post directly from the page, and tag a friend in the comments sections. Make sure your Facebook settings are on 'public' so we can see the share on our end. We will announce the ticket winner on Wednesday, March 28th at 12PM EST.
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SliceFest is heavily attended and is a sell-out event each year. We urge individuals to purchase tickets in advance at SliceFest.com to ensure attendance. Early-bird tickets for SliceFest 2018 are on sale for a limited time for only $30. Full price tickets purchased at the gate will be $35. Children ages 12 and under will receive free admission. All proceeds from ticket sales will benefit The Suki Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to helping families cope with Rhett Syndrome. Sponsors for SliceFest 2018 include Birmingham Budweiser, Coca Cola Bottling United, Tito’s Vodka, Metropolitan Properties. For more information on SliceFest or Slice Pizza & Brewhouse or visit www.slicefest.com or www.slicebirmingham.com.
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“SliceFest provides us the opportunity to bring artist talent from all over to experience the magic that is in Birmingham,” stated Jason Bajalieh, Bro-Founder of Slice Pizza & Brewhouse. “Big Gigantic has played for sold out crowds at Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits, Governors Ball Music Festival, Bonnaroo and now SliceFest!”
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SliceFest 2018 celebrates its 7th anniversary on Saturday, June 16th as Birmingham's largest food & music block party hosted by Slice Pizza & Brewhouse. If you love music, great food and brews, giving back and Birmingham then you don’t want to miss this festival.  Slice Pizza & Brewhouse hosts the event to celebrate the restaurant’s anniversary and thank the Birmingham community for their continuous support. Over the past 6 years the event has grown to a full-blown festival bringing in local and regional music talent paired with local craft beer and specialty pizzas. 

As with previous years, SliceFest is expected to welcome a SOLD OUT crowd on this 7th anniversary with patrons from Birmingham and across the Southeast. Community is what SliceFest is all about, not just a celebration of those that support Slice Pizza & Brewhouse, but a way to give back to the community. SliceFest has donated over $50,000 to Birmingham-based non-profits.

Stay tuned for future exclusive preview coverage of this year's festival, and see below for a taste of what you can expect from the 2018 lineup!

Big Gigantic's "All of Me" feat. Logic & Rosez: 

The Wailers: Live at O2 Academy Leicster - March 6th 2018:

BIG Something - "The Flood" feat. Jake Cinninger of Umphrey's McGee:

Too Many Zooz - "Bedford":

The Vegabonds - "Long Haired Country Boy":

LUTHI - "Every Body" Official Music Video:

Tragic City - "Turned Out" - Live from Monotonia Studios:


Soul Heroes Matador! Hit The Right Note With Debut Release 'Get Ready' March 15, 2018 14:49

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Words by Taylor Pack: Live & Listen
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Sometimes players just need to play, and that happens to be just the case when it comes to Eddie Roberts’ and Alan Evans’ newest project: Matador! Soul Sounds. The collection of extremely talented musicians is a result of Eddie and Alan spending time together playing on several different occasions. The two artists clearly had on-stage chemistry and both felt they wanted to play together more than what current circumstances allowed. 

Talking over a few glasses of wine in D.C one night, Eddie asked Alan if he’d be willing to start a band together. Alan agreed and the two quickly got busy choosing a roster. Chris Spies was the first name mentioned, because the keys player’s New Orleans steeped organ skills aligned perfectly with the brand of funk-drenched soul music Alan and Eddie were looking to create. Spies connection with Atlanta-based producer and bass player Kevin Scott led Eddie to suggest Scott for bass duties. Alan, who had crossed paths with Scott in the past, was overjoyed at the suggestion of working with Scott. Brought up through the school of Col. Bruce Hampton, Scott is not only cashing in on opportunities to play with Jimmy Herring and John McLaughlin and touring with ground-up label artist Forq, he also hosts Atlanta’s longest running weekly jam session. Finally, it would be senseless to try and bring audiences the very best in modern soul music without enlisting the passion and power of female singers. A tag team effort from Adryon De Leon (Orgone) and Kim Dawson (Pimps of Joytime) round out the band with confidence and grace.

Their debut album Get Ready showcases a mighty team effort in the spirit of the group’s namesake, the highly improvisational Grant Green album Matador. Just as Green enlisted the help of his scene’s most talented musicians, Matador! Soul Sounds uses a pool of individual talent to collectively push their own musical agenda: moving people’s soul and feet. The foundation for this starts with Evans and Scott’s rhythmic playing. Their ability to lock into a groove together is showcased on tracks like “Stingy Love” and “Too Late” and persists throughout the album. Tracks like “State of Affairs” and “Soulmaro” display Eddie Roberts' guitar sensibilities as he layers muscular jazz riffs with great deftness and intent alongside Spies slick organ playing.

The central theme of working together never shines brighter than the track “Covfefe”. Just as a matador would enlist the help of a cuadrilla (look it up!) in traditional bullfighting, the entire band comes together on this one to take on the figurative raging bull. It’s tracks like this one that display how well the band is able to braid together the many different aspects of the members that make up the group. Even the powerful vocal parts of De Leon and Dawson never seem to venture too far out in front or behind the rest of the band, always playing alongside them intertwined in the mix.

The final track on Get Ready is “Computer Love”, a patient and contemplative tune that seems to amble along with Eddie riffing over Spies’ humming organ. The band slowly builds energy until their arrival at peak intimacy; letting the newfound synergy run its course before dissipating away and concluding the album. The whole album clocks in at just over an hour and includes 2 bonus tracks as well.

The band hits the road soon. Their nationwide tour starts March 15 at the Rex Theater in Pittsburg, PA. To find out more about the band and their tour, visit the band's official website.

Stream 'Get Ready' in its entirety here:


The Aquaducks Release New Single "Groove or Move" March 15, 2018 11:57

 

Nashville’s favorite duck-themed funk band, The Aquaducks,  is premiering a brand new tune, and it’s unlike anything they’ve released before. Entitled “Groove or Move”, the new single is designed to get you to do just that. Keyboardist and lead vocalist Cavanaugh Mims tells us, “‘Groove or Move’ is a reaction to those shows where everyone’s feet seem to be glued to the floor, arms are folded, and heads are bobbing. Although we appreciate attentive listeners, sometimes we just want people to get on up and groove with us!” 
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The southern funk group is currently on a two week tour of Colorado including a show with local Denver groups Digg and Zagriculture. The group will be rounding out their tour of America’s highest state with chances to catch them in Boulder, Denver, and Buena Vista before their homecoming show in Nashville.  The band’s spring tour dates are below the exclusive audio stream. Enjoy!
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The Aquaducks Spring Tour Dates:
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3/15 - Boulder, CO - Bohemian Biergarten
3/16 - Denver, CO - Your Mom’s House* 
3/17- Buena Vista, CO - The Lariat
3/24 - Nashville, TN - The Basement^
3/30 - Indianapolis, IN - The Mousetrap+
3/31 - Muncie, IN - Valhalla Venue
4/11 - Athens, GA - Nowhere Bar
4/12 - Dunedin, FL - Dunedin Brewery
4/13 - Boca Raton, FL - Funky Buddha Brewery
4/14 - Tampa, FL - Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood
4/20 - Charleston, WV - The Empty Glass% 
4/21 - Bowling Green, KY - Tidball’s Live on the lot
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*w/ Digg and Zagriculture
^w/ Tribal Hoose and DirtyGirl
+w/ Audiodacity
%w/ Beggars Clan
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