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All Things Adam Deitch: One of America's Most Intriguing Drummers April 9, 2021 12:08

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Purchase Tickets to Funk You's 10th Anniversary Tour


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

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Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
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Believe it or not, we are fast approaching the one year anniversary of the entire world being put on pause. In March of 2020, life as we know it changed in a way that we never could have expected. As cases of COVID-19 began to sweep across America, we were suddenly given strict orders to stay at home and avoid public interaction at all costs.
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While so many industries were seriously affected from this very moment, none felt the wrath of this global pandemic more than the world of live music. When you're expected to avoid crowds and maintain a six foot distance from others at all times, concerts are nearly impossible. Music venues, bars, and restaurants were the first to be shut down, and many are still waiting to reopen their doors a year later.
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As we look on the past year, we're catching up with a number of our favorite musicians to learn more about their COVID journey. I've been fortunate enough to call myself a fan of The String Cheese Incident for twenty years now, so it was only fitting to kick off this interview series with keyboardist Kyle Hollingsworth. Check out the full conversation below, and make sure to tune into Kyle's live streams from Boulder Theatre on Sunday, March 7th!
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Well Kyle, it's great to have a few minutes to speak with you today. I typically always start these interviews off with some history and background info. Tell me a little bit about how this journey started back in Baltimore.
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Kyle: Sure. So, Baltimore...essentially, we're below the Mason-Dixon Line. We're kind of in the South, but not quite. I can relate to the community, and those sticky summer nights where it's so hot you just have to keep the fans on. I lived right by the water. I would go downtown to the inner harbor and see music when I could. At that point, everything was 21 and up. I'd stand outside some of the club and listen to some of the bands coming through. Who would those bands have been? It may have been a little early for ARU and Spin Doctors. Maybe it was around that time, but I'd go listen outside of the door. 
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I also started studying at that point. I wanted to be a rock and roll guy. I grew up listening to music. I was a child actor for a little while, but I was also a bit nervous when it came to auditions. So, I was said "Forget that. What else can I do to be on stage?" I knew I could practice piano forever, so studied as much as I could. I realized that I needed more chops, so I went to college and studied jazz piano in Baltimore.
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I was then finally old enough to start playing the clubs I would visit when I was younger. It was awesome and just so much fun. We weren't old enough to drink yet, probably 19 or 20, but we'd get ushered in. My first band was called Black Friday. There was a bit of a punk scene in Baltimore and DC at that time. I wasn't that into punk, but I liked the edge that it brought. It was loud and had a lot of energy. Black Friday had some of those punk elements while also being highly improvisational. 
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So, that band did pretty well. We'd get to play the clubs, but we couldn't hang out because of our age. We had a good following though, so everyone would still come see us. We just had to dip out the back door after. We worked through that, and that's how I got started. At that point, my brother was really into the Grateful Dead, so I listened to a lot of those tapes with Brent Mydland on keys. Some of The Doors stuff for sure. Then there was all the stuff in the pop world, like The Cars. At some point, I discovered The Talking Heads. They came out with "Burning Down the House," and I was just like, "Wow, that's so cool!" That led me to some of the more trippy albums like Remain in Light
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At some point, I was probably 23 or 24, and I'd kind of done the Baltimore thing. I decided I was going to move to Colorado and see what's happening there. I originally went out there to be a forest ranger. I quickly realized I was a little better at playing music, so I put my focus there. I played with local bands like Lakewood Sunshine and Durt, who ended up opening for The String Cheese Incident. I sat in with String Cheese, and I've been sitting in ever since (laughs).
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At that point, I'm assuming the band was just Billy (Nershi), (Michael) Travis, Keith (Moseley), and (Michael) Kang?
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Kyle: Yes. They were just newly formed. I joined the band in 1998, and they had just started a few years priors. The band had relocated from the Crestview/Telluride area to Boulder. There was definitely a buzz about them, but they were still pretty new to the scene. It was mainly Dave Watts, the drummer from The Motet. He and I were playing in a band together, and Kang came and sat in. He invited me to come check out his band (String Cheese). I was like, "What kind of name is that? Who names a band The String Cheese Incident. I don't know if I can join a band with a name like that." (laughs)
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I think everyone who has ever heard the band name has had that initial reaction...to some extent. (laughs)
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Kyle: Exactly. 
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Well things must have really taken off quickly from there. You guys released the Carnival album in 1999, right?
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Kyle: Right. So yeah, I believe I joined in 1998. They had only been a band for a handful of years at this point. Carnival '99 came out, and the funny thing about that time is that I was listening to Bela Fleck's Flight of the Cosmic Hippo and Spin Doctors, and the HORDE Tour comes around. HORDE stood for "horizons of rock developing everywhere." Bela was on that, and he had a great keyboard player named Hank Levy in that band. By Carnival '99, we were going to festivals and meeting these people that I thought I could be playing with. I had this vision of wanting to play with these guys. It moved very quickly, as you said. All of the sudden, by 1999, I was actually hanging out with people, even the Grateful Dead guys, and I'm just like, "What?! I guess this was the right choice. Forget Forestry!" (laughs).
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Watch Kyle Hollingsworth's new cover of Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" here:
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Wow. Yeah, I can imagine how exciting and even overwhelming that was at the time. You were clearly a major reason why the band continued to progress. Not to get too off topic here, but I wanted to at least touch on the band's relationship with Keller Williams. I basically discovered Cheese and Keller around the same time (2001-2002), and I know the roots run deep there. How did that relationship ultimately come together? 
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Kyle: Yeah, so Keller is a Virginia guy, and I think he had seen the band before. He may have been a fan, to some degree. I'm trying to think of the very first person he met. Maybe Keith or Travis? One of those guys. It's just one of those things. We've known him for so long. It's hard to remember the origin story. I'm curious to hear what he would have to say. He would follow us around, and at some point, we saw how well he played and wrote, so we invited him to start opening for us. He started opening all of our shows all over the country. It just started growing and growing for him. He has great ambition, so he asked us to record an album (Breathe) with him. He brought us all of the songs with all of his tricky chord changes, and it was really a whole lot of fun.
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I remember seeing him sit in on Evolution DVD and have always loved the Breathe album. It was a really neat thing to witness the camaraderie between you guys as a young music fan. One other random question I have is regarding Robert Hunter. I know you had a chance to do some writing with him at some point. Can you elaborate on that?
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Kyle: Yes I did. I did a tune called "45th of November" with him. So, you know, there's always been that West Coast vs. East Coast thing. Not like the whole hip hop rap battle, but when you think of the east coast, you think of Phish and bands that are a little more rockin'. You think Umphrey's...well at least east of the Mississippi. There was also moe. from Buffalo. We were kind of this other group that was a little more exploratory and ok with open spaces. Willing to take dives into beautiful sounds and a little less heavy.
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So, The Grateful Dead was in a similar camp to us.  We were more West Coast in that way. We started connecting with those guys, almost immediately. Mountain Girl, John Barlow, and all of those folks were kind of gravitating to us being a similar vibe to the Dead. This is somewhere during the 1999-2002 era. So then, through that, Barlow started writing some stuff with Kang and Billy. Robert (Hunter) had reached out, because he had heard about us, and asked if anyone wanted to write. I immediately put my hand up and said, "I got this." 
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I definitely tried to write this song in a way that the Grateful Dead would've written something to kind of connect with him. It has this middle section that's kind of like "The Other One," so he was all about it. The connection was very unique in the fact that it was all cyber. I met him once backstage at The Greek Theatre, I think. He asked me to send him an mp3, so I did, and he sent me back the lyrics. I said, "Well, I can try to sing like this. This word is a little weird. Can I change it?" He said, "No. All of the words are perfect. You just need to change how you're singing it." (laughs)
 
So I said, "Ok. That's fair. You've written tons of incredible songs." He then said "How about this? At 1:30, you sing this line. Then at 1:36, you sing you can sing the next word." It was very specific, and I got it, but it wasn't a collab in the traditional sense of going back and forth.
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I guess that's not entirely shocking to hear. "45th of November" was released on One Step Closer in 2005, right?
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Kyle: Correct.
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Listen to The String Cheese Incident's "45th of November" here:
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Let's shift our focus and touch on what this past year has been like for you. You guys grind so hard with touring and festivals throughout the year. Ironically, you released a new EP called 2020 about a month before the world shut down. What was the realization like for you as life as we know it was put on hold? 
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Kyle: That was my fourth solo release. In hindsight, I probably should've called it 2021. So, yeah...I had a whole bunch of things on the books. I had dates with my band. I had some stuff with Everyone Orchestra. The funny thing is that we had just hit 25 years of String Cheese. We stopped in December of 2019, because we wanted to take a break for six months. I was already prepared for at least a little bit of a break. I planned on taking classical piano lessons and doing all kinds of personal stuff during my break.
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To answer your question though, for the first few months, I was still being really creative. I was finding ways to get to my musical outlet through virtual lessons and even picking up a different instrument. I was playing the ukulele. Just diving into some growing things. I thought about doing some music for television. As it wore on, the spark started dimming by June or so. You see Trey (Anastasio) putting out like three albums. I was like, "Well, that could've been me if I kept my spirit up" (laughs). Towards the end, I was kind of getting dragged down a bit. It's gotten better in recent months, but for a while, I was down about it. 
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The cool thing is that about halfway through the summer, my solo band started playing some outdoor shows. The performance alone can really invigorate you. Never mind that there are only 150 people there versus 3000 people. You're just psyched to be playing on stage in front of people. That really gave me a breath of new life. But yeah, it was a tricky time to release a new album. I know there are thousands of other musicians who released albums in 2020. It was supposed to be a great year. 2020! New birth! 
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No kidding. I know it's a little trickier when it comes to String Cheese. You've got such a massive, dedicated fan base. It's damn near impossible to pull off a socially distanced show with a band of this magnitude, and why would you even try if it could put anyone in harm's way? How has the band continued to stay engaged and interact with each other?
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Kyle: Two things about that. The funny thing is that my solo band has been able to play many of the venues String Cheese would normally play, like Dillon Amphitheatre. It's really ironic that I've gotten to play so many of these same venues, with the exception of Red Rocks, to about hundred people with my band. As far as the connection, I've been able to consistently get together with Keith and Jason, especially over the last few months. We've been doing some writing, and Jason is a really great teacher. We've been working on rhythm lessons and improvisational stuff. Kang lives in California, and Travis is in upstate New York. It's been challenging to get everyone in one place.
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Everyone's been immersed in their family life, and of course traveling on planes has been a risk. Billy has been spending most of his time in Hawaii. So, whoever is around locally has been getting together. Jason has a place here in Boulder, and he visits about once a month. Keith and I get together every week. We're actually getting together tomorrow. It's more about writing, but also just hanging out and being a brother again. 
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With String Cheese, I think the big thing for us, which is difficult for me at times, we want to make sure what we come out with is the best possible quality. We were a little hesitant to play random drive-ins. We might play one, but we want to make sure the social distancing isn't an awkward thing for everyone. We'd rather not go to Red Rocks and play for 150 people. We'd rather wait til Red Rocks can be at least half full, so we can really bring the energy and the spirit. So for me, there have been times where I was ready to get out and do it. Collectively, we would rather wait until we can do it right, which I respect. 
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Stream Kyle Hollingsworth's EP 2020 here:
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As a fan, I respect that as well. I know there is tremendous pressure from the fans, as the band's touring schedule plays such a major role in so many people's lives. You guys have worked your asses off to get to this point in your career. We have to respect the decision you guys have made to wait this thing out and get back to it when things can be done right.
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Kyle: Ok, good. That's really great to hear you say, and it makes sense to me too. It's just a matter of time before we can all get together again. In the meantime, we're just doing everything we can to be prepared for that time.
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I almost forgot to ask: how's the brewing going? I'm guessing you've had plenty of time work on your other hobbies as well.
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Kyle: The funny thing is that I really haven't been brewing much at all. That doesn't mean I'm drinking less beer though. I did make one. I have a solo show coming up on Sunday, March 7th at The Boulder Theater. It's my first solo show since summer. Everyone will be able to tune into the stream. My birthday is this week, so it's my birthday show, and I decided to make a beer with ska. I wanted to go for a bit of an old school West Coast IPA. A lot of people are doing hazys right now, but I wanted to try something more traditional. Something with a dry hop, but also a little bit of bittering. 
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We'll see how it goes. Making beer and making music, you kind of jump in with both feet, and you're never quite sure how it's going to come out. The yeast is going to do what it's going to do, and then it's going to be great, or it's like the best solo you've ever taken, or the worst beer you've ever made. The point being that you should just go for it. It's a lot of fun. I'm going to try it tomorrow for my birthday. The idea was to have a beer that people could go to and watch the live streams. You go get your growler, join me, and I'll drink a beer with everyone online. It will be available for those who get to attend the show as well. 
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Amazing. Well, let me be the first to go ahead and say "Happy Birthday." I can't thank you enough for taking the time to chat with me today. I hope the Sunday shows make for a great birthday celebration, and I can't wait to finally get a chance to see you and the band play again before too long.
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Kyle: Thanks so much Jordan. My pleasure.
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Sexbruise? Discusses New EP 'COVID-69' February 25, 2021 13:58

Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

Photo via Sexbruise? 

Live & Listen's core purpose has always been to serve as a platform for unique, up-and-coming acts, and that's exactly what we have for you today. In case you were wondering, Sexbruise? is a satirical desktoptronica/pop band from Charleston, SC that combines elements of improvisation, electronic music, poppy hooks, and audience participation to create an unforgettable live experience. Just two weeks ago, the band released their second full length EP, COVID-69, which is available on all major streaming platforms. We recently sat down with band members John Pope and Julie Slonecki to learn more about one of the more fascinating groups we've discovered in recent memory.

It's great to have a chance to chat with y'all today. I've spent some time listening to the new EP this week, and I'm loving every minute of it.

John: Yeah, it's a subtle nod to the time that we're living in. So like, COVID-69 is just a reference to this virus that was really big in 2020. It was called COVID-19. A lot of people don't catch that. It's kind of subtle. 

No kidding. I didn't catch that until now. So, I was hoping we could start off with some general background on Sexbruise? How did you guys get started on this wondrous journey?

John: The band started as a joke, primarily. It was just a name on a flyer, right? Our friend, Stratton, has this birthday party every year. He put "Sexbruise?" on the flyer. He was like, "It's a cool band name. It has a question mark. We'll just get a bunch of laptops and act like we're doing stuff." So that was our first show. We wrote about six or seven songs in one day. We played those songs and decided to keep rolling with it. 

Amazing. So, the band came together for this birthday party, and all of the sudden, you're working with a handful of originals and a little momentum. How did things progress from there?

Julie: Well, not long after that first show, we actually nominated ourselves for Electronic Band of the Year. We had only played that one show, and maybe one more, and somehow, we actually won that award. At this time, it was hysterical. But yeah, I think we noticed how well everyone responded to it, and how much fun we had doing it. It was just one of the most fun and ridiculous things any of us had been a part of, so we just decided to keep going and see where we ended up with it. 

That's amazing to get that type of recognition early on. That had to be reassuring. 

Julie: Yeah, absolutely. At the time, I think we didn't really know what to make of it, except that it was perfect for our whole "schtick." But yeah, it really just took off from there.

John: So since then, we got very popular very quickly. Overnight, we had around 7000 likes on our Facebook page, which were all real. We stand by that. We started getting more offers to play festivals over the last few years. Rooster Walk last year. Obviously, all of the festivals in 2020 were cancelled. We're hoping for the best for this summer.

No kidding. How is y'all's calendar shaping up thus far? I know there is obviously so much that remains to be seen. 

John: Well, we had to cancel our Madison Square Garden run, which was a bummer. Red Rocks, also cancelled. We had a couple of dates with Phish opening for us, but those bigger shows just can't really happen yet. We're more confined to small spaces like the Charleston Pour House and Safe Sounds, which is part of Firefly Distillery. So, you know, we're staying kind of busy on a local level, but some of those bigger shows, that were totally real, are not happening anymore.

Julie: We are slated for FloydFest, if that is able to happen this summer. Like you said, a lot remains to be seen in the coming months.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed. We're all hoping for a return to normalcy, especially when it comes to live music. I know it's been especially brutal on the music industry. Something's got to give. Hopefully as these vaccinations continue to roll out, we'll be in a better position to get back to it.

John: Yeah, that's kind of the message of our new EP, COVID-69. Number one, we want to bring everyone together. We want to get everyone in a headspace of, "This is a tough time that we're in, but we can still have fun." 

I'm glad you said that. I wanted to transition over to the EP, which was just released a few weeks ago (January 29th). As you've mentioned, there is a bit of a common theme with these five tracks. How did this concept come together? 

John: I think from a creative standpoint, it was very hard to think about anything else for a long time. Or talk about anything else, for that matter. 

Julie: We actually got together for what would have been more of a rehearsal. As usual, we got completely sidetracked and started writing some songs. Before we knew it, we probably wrote four out of the five tracks in just a few hours. This kind of our "m.o." where we have these big spurts of creativity. We just got on a roll, and you know, I think we thought these would be really relatable tunes. We weren't really thinking about anything else.

Stream the new EP, COVID-69, via Spotify here:

That's amazing. I'm always blown away when I hear musicians talk about these writing sessions, or rehearsals turned writing sessions, where five to ten songs are written in one day. How does the writing process work for you guys? I'm sure it's a unique and entertaining experience.

Julie: I'd say that the idea usually just comes from us goofing around and talking. Someone will say something that's pretty funny, and one of us will just run with it and start improvising it. Everyone follows that lead, and before you know it, we've written a song called "We Don't Have The Virus."

John: I think that we were just chanting "We Don't Have The Virus." This was the first time that we had really seen each other in person for a month or two. We felt like anyone who didn't have the virus should be excited. 

I'd say that's fair game for celebration.

Julie: The song also, I think, works when the virus does magically go away. Whenever that is, I think this will be a great celebratory song for everyone. At long last, we do not have the virus.

John: I agree with you, Julie.

Hopefully this EP will be a reminder of what it was like living through this strange and concerning time. Something we can put behind us before too long.

Julie: I am hoping that we get featured maybe in history books or Wikipedia articles, just as a memento to the virus. You know, kind of use our whole themed EP here for sort of a guide for what happened in 2020. How people were handling it, and I think if anything, that would be a great legacy.

John: Julie, I can guarantee that we can get on Wikipedia. It's just a matter of how long before people remove our entries.

Julie: This is true.

John: Because that has happened very quickly whenever I add Sexbruise? to Wikipedia articles.

Tell me about when it came time to get in the studio and nail all of this down. I know you've released quite a few singles over the years. Was this the first multi-track release?

Julie: We've released one other full-length EP that went platinum. That was exciting. It's called Real Gold, and that was about two years ago. We got a lot of success from that, and we're now working with our sophomore album, if you will. We've also released singles throughout the years, as well. 

John: We're sort of hoping that this one doesn't blow up as much. Just because it's a hassle having a bunch of fans, fame, and money. It's just not for us, you know? We've kind of been there, done that. We're going low key with this one... putting it out on Spotify.

Julie: Just trying to stay humble. But yeah, the recording process is unique. We do all of our own recording in house. We all tag team it. John and I both do arranging and recording in our home studios. I did a lot of the mixing and mastering for this one. We've done all of our previous releases in house as a team effort. We're really lucky that we're multi-talented like that. But you know, like anything, life and motivation can delay things. We did still get this album out while the album was relevant. We were concerned about that.

John: Yeah. We were really hoping that the virus would stick around long enough for us to get this album out. 

Julie: There was some worry that it would disappear and be over, and no one would care about the virus anymore. 

Watch Sexbruise?'s new music video "WDHTV" here:

That's incredible to have the ability to do all of the recording, mixing, and mastering in house. I know you guys did not have too many opportunities to work, sell tickets, generate revenue in 2020. The expenses of studio time, engineering, and releasing a new album add up quickly. I'm sure it is even more rewarding to produce everything yourselves. 

Julie: It's good. It's slightly maddening. You write the songs, and you have to do all of the work to them. By the end of it, you really know the songs. Very intimately acquainted. We're very lucky in that regard. 

John: Actually Julie, I would say luck has nothing to do with it.

Julie: That's true. We definitely are not lucky. 

John: Well put, Julie.

Julie: Thank you. I thought I had more there, but I didn't come up with anything.

Well, before we wrap this up, I wanted to hear more about the live Sexbruise? experience. Just through following you guys on social media and hearing from friends in Charleston, I've picked up on the fact that it's a show like no other. Not your typical concert experience. I was hoping you could elaborate on what people can expect. 

John: So, we try to push the boundaries on what bands can do in a live setting. We prepare a lot of food on stage. We make pancakes, but we've also made plenty of grilled cheeses and tuna melts. We throw snacks at the crowd. We've served champagne and pina coladas. I know it sounds like I'm just describing a lot of different types of food, but there's also music, as well. We do a lot of crowd participation. Pull people out of the crowd and make up a song about them on the spot. Plenty of improvisation. 

Julie: In the pre-COVID days, there was a lot of crowd interaction, which has forced us to readjust how we do things, for the time being. In times past, we did a lot of things off stage. Dancing with the crowd, creating dance-offs, handing out snacks personally. All kinds of shenanigans. We're definitely aching to get back to that, whenever it's deemed safe. We're still coming up with all new, inventive ways to handle that. We have a snack launcher, a snack drone, a snack pole. Most of these are snack related, but I think you get the idea.

John: We also incorporate a lot of live visuals into the show. We have projections by our friend Joel Schooling. I'll plug Joel real quick. Why not? So, that adds a lot to the show, from a visual standpoint. 

Julie: We just try to come up with new shenanigans every time. Keep things fresh, so people never see the same show twice. That's a huge part of it for us. We just brainstorm on these ideas, and we don't put any type of limitations on what we can do with that. No bad ideas, you know?

I think it's safe to say that you're providing a unique experience for anyone in attendance. Engaging the crowds like few, if any others, have in the past. It's been a blast chatting with both of y'all today. I appreciate your time, and I sure hope to have an opportunity to have a proper Sexbruise? experience in the near future.

John: Absolutely. We enjoyed it too. Thank you, Jordan!

Julie: Thanks, Jordan!


The Wild Feathers Prepare for Birmingham's Avondale Brewery November 6, 2020 17:22

Photo by Rachel Moore

Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

Nashville's The Wild Feathers are gearing up for a big return to Avondale Brewing Company on Friday, November 13th. This band is certainly no stranger to the Birmingham, as their extensive history has led them to just about every stage the city has to offer over the past ten years. This particular show is presented by none other than Big Friendly Productions, so you can rest assured that this will be a top notch occasion in every aspect. 

Having shared the stage with musical icons such as Paul Simon, Willie Nelson, and Bob Segar, The Wild Feathers are guaranteed to deliver a dynamic performance for the Birmingham faithful. With indoor shows being few and far between, as well as cold weather right around the corner, music fans don't want to miss this opportunity for one more outdoor show.

As we look ahead this one, we caught up with Joel King (bass/vocals) to learn a little more about how the band has been fighting their way through the pandemic, a new album due out later this month, and much more. Check out the full conversation below, and make sure to click here to secure your tickets while supplies last.

Share this article directly from the Live & Listen Facebook page + tag a friend in the comments for a chance to win a pair of tickets to this show. We will announce the winner at 10AM on Thursday, November 12.

Let's start off with some general background info on the band. You guys have been at it for about ten years now, right?
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Joel: Yeah. We've been on the streets for about ten years. Well, we started around 2010 with me, Ricky (Young), and Taylor (Burns) writing a lot of the songs that came out on the first record. We kind of got together just to write songs and see if we could do this thing. You know, multiple singers, kind of like The Band or Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young. It's progressed from there, and the band has definitely evolved. The sound has changed a little here and there, but it's pretty much all rock and roll.
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Very cool. So, you got started in 2010. You guys are based out of Nashville, right?
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Joel: Yeah.
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Was it soon thereafter that the band started expanding beyond the Nashville scene and hitting all of the Southeastern markets?
 
Joel: Yeah man. When we first started, we had a production deal in LA. So, we flew out there and cut a bunch of songs. We get back here, and decide we aren't going to tour like we did with our old bands. I'll be damned if that's exactly what we did. (laughs). Our booking agent gave us some really great advice to do a residency tour. Every Monday, we played Memphis. On Tuesday, we were in Nashville. Wednesday would be Birmingham. I think we played The Nick about 1000 times. Thursday would be Atlanta.
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We had a routine where we did it for a little over a month. We were playing every day of the week with maybe one day off. We did this residency tour for a month or so, just to be out there. Playing as much as we could. That was really when we started "touring" a lot. We did some runs here and there, but once we did that, things started happening.
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We got on a few other awesome tours, and the rest is history. Paul Simon asked us to come open for him for maybe six or seven dates. That was a real dream come true. After that, we signed a record deal and all of that other stuff.
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Wow. What point in time were the Paul Simon shows?
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Joel: I think that was 2012? It was 2011 or 2012. I can't remember which. It was one of the two.
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I can only imagine how big of a deal that was.
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Joel: Oh yeah, man. It was pretty crazy. That was obviously a major boost. We had to price match our CDs with his. We only had a four-song EP, which we recorded ourselves, at the time. We had to sell them for like $20, because that's what he sold his albums for. (laughs). And ours were burned CDs from our own computer. So, it was pretty interesting. It really set us on course though.
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We ended up playing with so many legacies. We played a bunch of times with Willie (Nelson), Bob Dylan, and as of last year, the last tour we did was with Bob Segar about a year ago. So, we've kind of been in that legacy mode ever since the beginning. Maybe that's because it's a throwback sound or whatever. I don't really want to call it a throwback. I'd probably call it a "bring back." It's just guitars, drums, singing, and what I call "regular music." (laughs).
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Well, you guys were obviously doing something right from the get go. Finding yourselves in an opportunity to support so many long-standing musical icons. Not many bands can say that. That's amazing.
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Joel: Oh yeah, man. We got to meet many of our heroes.
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I wanted to ask you specifically about this year. It's obviously been a tremendous challenge for all of us, with the music industry being no exception. Tell me about where you guys were and how did COVID-19 affect the band early on. How have you managed to navigate through it thus far?
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Joel: At the time, we weren't really doing much. We were planning the "Spirit of the South" tour with Blackberry Smoke, The Allman Betts Band, and a few others. There was gonna be a big jam at the end. It was gonna be a really cool, amphitheater-type tour. Even The Big House in Macon was planning to have a museum exhibit. It was shaping up to be a big, summer-long tour.It was scheduled for about two months. We were so stoked to do that. It was going to be a whole bunch of fun.
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We were doing some recording and a bunch of other prep stuff when COVID hit. We couldn't really go in the studio and weren't really trying to be around anyone, so that's when we decided to compile the rarities and B-sides record. The tour got rescheduled for 2021, so it's still going to happen. We had contemplated this record for a long time. We're no longer with Warner Brothers, so we kind of do whatever we want, which is really great. For each record, we'll write 30 or 40 songs and narrow it down to 15 or 16. Then, we end up cutting and releasing maybe 12.
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So, we have a few extra for placements and all of that. Every record has a couple of extra songs. We have a few of the covers we have done. We have maybe three songs that we had already done in the studio and produced ourselves. We decided we could put a cap on this, ten years in, and call it Medium Rarities. It's kind of like of Nirvana has Incesticide. Every band tends to have "that record," with a lot of B-sides.
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We decided, "why not us?" That's kind of how we remedied the COVID situation. We knew we needed to release something, but we couldn't really get in to record. We could have probably started recording, but we wouldn't have been ready to release it by now. So, we got everything mastered and put the whole package together. It was pretty cool to see it come together.
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The first track is from 2010, when we recorded a demo for Interscope Records, which signed us and dropped us within six months. That was a cover of "Blue" by The Jayhawks. That's one of our favorite songs. We recorded it at Sound City Studios out in Los Angeles. It was awesome, but we never had a chance to release it. We got to a point where it felt like it was too old.
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Until the rarities thing came along. We thought it was kind of cool for everyone to hear all of this unreleased stuff. Some friends of ours asked us, "Why didn't you just release this as a regular record?" We like to make records that flow and have an identity. We felt like we should preface it by calling it Medium Rarities.
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Listen to The Wild Feather's latest single, "My Truth," here:
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What a neat way to dig back in the archives and find a way to utilize material that already existed that just hadn't found its way out to public yet.
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Joel: It's kind of like doing your homework early. You have all of the songs in the back of your head, and you felt like they were good. It's not like the B-sides were crappy tunes. Actually, it's because if we have two or three songs that sound similar, in the same meter, we'll end up going with the ones that fit with the flow of the record.
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With this record, it's not like, "Well, here's the crappiest songs we've got." We're pretty proud of them.It's nice to finish them and get them out, because they're always in the back of your mind. "We should release that one day." And then, you just never do it. You know? That's been a pretty cool sense of accomplishment.
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I'm sure. You've got to find some silver linings somewhere during such a challenging year. It seems like 2020 provided the proper avenue to finally share this music with the world.
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Joel: Absolutely. We're trying to look at the bright side there. Also, before this, we never thought anyone could take away our ability to play live. We thought, "We'll always be able to play live." Then all of this happens and just like that, the live show is gone. It'll be back though.
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It will be back. It's been great to see certain outdoor venues adapt for socially distanced shows. On that note, you guys obviously have a show coming up at Birmingham's Avondale Brewing Company on Friday, November 13th. They're really doing a phenomenal job of creating a safe environment for artists and fans alike. It's definitely a reduced capacity, but it's allowing so many people the chance to work again.
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Joel: Oh, I know, man. That's a blessing. The Blackberry Smoke guys took us out for a run of shows a few weeks ago. Most of them were ballparks with spray painted circles and all of that. I'll take anything. If I saw some people at the park, I'd be ok with setting up and playing, as long as everyone is spread out and doing their thing. It's not like Beatlemania when we play (laughs).
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Speaking of the Birmingham show, I know you mentioned playing The Nick early on. I was curious to hear more about the band's history in the market.
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Joel: Birmingham has been great to us. I think last time we played Saturn, which is an amazing venue. That place is great. We've played Avondale two or three times, which was awesome. Weather permitting, always. We've also played Iron City and WorkPlay. We've really played all over Birmingham. It's also so close to home. We always joke that we never get to stay in Birmingham and hang out. We're always headed to the next city, or it's the day before we're getting home to Nashville. They've got Hattie B's down there too now. (laughs).
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That's true. The city has really blown up in recent years. The music scene is really thriving. They have some of the best restaurants in the southeast. While this year has been especially tough on the entertainment and hospitality industries, we just have to remain confident that we'll all get through it on the other side.
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Joel: Yeah I know. One thing about it is that some bands don't want to take the risk of playing any shows at all, while others aren't as concerned. We're just evaluating each opportunity as we get them. Once it gets too cold to play outside, packing into a venue just isn't an option right now. We've got to play these socially distant, outdoor shows while we can.
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That's a great point. We're getting close to that point. Before we wrap up, I was hoping you could share what's on the horizon for the band, aside from the new album and the rescheduled tour dates.
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Joel: I think what we're gonna do during all of this off time is haul up in a cabin and record a record out there. Just totally vibe out and make a vibey record. I think all of our records have been very well thought out. We usually go out to a cabin beforehand, hammer out all of the details, then head to a studio. We're thinking, since we don't have anywhere to be, maybe we'll just get a whole bunch of recording gear, head out to a cabin, capture a bunch of video footage, and make a record while we have the time. Gotta live the dream.
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That sounds like a great idea. Put yourself in the right atmosphere and tap into those creative channels. See what happens.
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Joel: That's right. Let ourselves be positive and productive with all of the rigamarole going on. (laughs)
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Tom Galloway Releases Sophomore Album 'Rearview' October 20, 2020 14:17

Nashville, TN (October 16th, 2020) - Americana rocker and singer/songwriter, Tom Galloway, just released his second solo effort entitled, “Rearview.” The 6 song EP features previously released singles from this year as well as brand new songs “Let it Play,” “Rearview,” & “Lazy Days.” The album flows intentionally well from start to finish and shows strong diversity of his songwriting, both in lyrics and composition. With a powerful band, empathetic lyrics, and unique vocals and harmonies, this record maintains both a refreshing yet timeless vibe. Recorded at Southern Ground Studios in Nashville, the record also includes special guests from Moon Taxi, LadyCouch, CBDB, & Sicard Hollow.

“This album was such a pleasure to create. In retrospect, I believe the overall theme of this record deals with the destructive and redemptive aspects of love, both gained and lost, as well as the importance of self-worth and forward positive motion. It’s tempting to look back in the rearview at memories and illusions of the past, but focusing on the present and the road ahead is the answer.”

Stream Tom Galloway's new album 'Rearview' here:

About Tom Galloway:

Born in Georgia, raised in Texas, and currently writing songs in Nashville, TN, Galloway combines roots of Americana, country, and rock, to form a unique blend of expression and storytelling. Developing his craft for years, strong hooks, captivating lyrics, and compelling music have been his mission. Since 2008, he has toured the country extensively as the principal songwriter and front man for the rock bands Mama’s Love, Maradeen, and Stampede. He released his debut solo record, Cross Currents, in 2018. Now with his sophomore record set to release he continues to perform, record, and strive for timeless music.

For more information, visit www.tomgalloway.net and connect with Tom on Facebook, Instagram, and Spotify.

Recent Press:

"A darker strand of country music...Galloway's voice is warm and smooth, but the timbre is even lovelier when sung in harmony. Galloway clearly has his own take on country/bluegrass, and we're here for it" - The Deli Magazine

"Galloway has been a staple in the southeastern music scene over the past decade. While many know Galloway as the frontman of rock bands Mama's Love and Maradeen, his latest work portrays a fresh yet diverse look into the artist's catalog...Combining the sounds of americana, alt-country, and southern rock, Cross Currents provides a tasteful blend of nostalgic, conspicuous tracks that make for an excellent listen from start to finish" - Live & Listen

"The music sounds free, open and vast...Rock oriented but steeped heavily in Americana... Take for instance the opener 'Wild Bird'...The song is simultaneously warm, nostalgic and joyful." - Divide & Conquer

"Drawing from the penmanship of writers such as Robert Hunter, I look forward to witnessing the growth of this songwriter" -Flagpole Magazine

"Right away you sense the comfort of a southern twang without being overbearingly country...mixed with creative riffs and poetic lyrics" - BreakThru Radio

"Good melodies with smooth, yet smoky vocals" - Music News Nashville


Big Something's Nick MacDaniels Discusses New Album & COVID-19 October 8, 2020 12:29

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Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
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North Carolina-based jam rockers Big Something are gearing up for the release of their sixth studio album, Escape, on Friday, October 9th. Produced by John Custer and the band at Ovation Sound in Winston-Salem, ‘Escape’ showcases the evolution of the band’s signature sound and their diverse range of songs. In a year of unmeasured uncertainty, this release calls for an extra dose of celebration, and we couldn't be happier to help shine a light. 
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To celebrate the release of the new record, Big Something will premiere a video album listening party on Thursday October 8th followed by a FREE multi-cam virtual concert on Friday October 9th that will air across multiple platforms including Live & Listen, NUGS TV, Live for Live Music, YouTube and more.
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Earlier this week, we caught up with Nick MacDaniels (guitar/vocals) to discuss all of the details on Escape, how the band continues to navigate  through the COVID-19 pandemic, and everything in between. See below for the full conversation, and make sure to head to the band's official store to order your copy today.
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This has obviously been a crazy year. From what I recall, Big Something had just wrapped up the Royal Rumble tour with Andy Frasco when everything started to cancel. Tell me about how that time period played out for the band.
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Nick: We had just gotten home, and that's when everything first started happening. So luckily for us, we were able to finish that tour. And that was one of the most fun and most successful tours we've ever had, so it was really crazy to go from that right into quarantine a couple weeks later. We had so many friends that were still on the road, and then had to cancel everything. It sounded like a nightmare. We were pretty lucky actually, but it was still super disappointing. This was shaping up to be a huge year for us. We were so excited for our first time at Bonnaroo, our annual festival, The Big What?, and so many other awesome shows we had lined up.  
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The new album was actually ready to go too and we planned on releasing it much earlier, but once everything shut down we decided to wait to release it until we could tour again. Then we slowly realized we might not be able to tour again anytime soon so it gave us something to focus on and look forward to while touring isn't an option. 
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I can only imagine how disappointing that was. I know it's been years since you had this much time off of the road. What has life been like for you and the band? How have you been occupying all of this new found time?
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Nick: It kind of happened in phases. I think it's been that way for a lot of people. Initially, it was a lot of down time at home, which was nice. We spent so much time on the road before all this that home life kind of fell by the wayside. It was great to spend more time with my girlfriend and our cat Teddy who gradually became famous during our live streams (lol). It was also fun having one band member at a time come over for our "live from the living room" sessions. It's been different, for sure. We've had to adjust to this new frontier, but it's also allowed us to learn new things and focus on some stuff we don't normally have time for. 
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I'm glad to hear there have been some silver linings. Tell me about the recent live stream series, Escape from the Living Room, which wraps up in correlation with the album release on Friday. 
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Nick: Well once we realized we wouldn't be able to tour we decided to make the recording studio our homebase for writing music and hosting live streams. Our good friend Bill Stevens at Ovation Sound was super awesome about letting us come in and pretty much take over his studio for months. And it was really nice to have a creative space to call home during all this craziness. Our last show in front of people was in February and our first practice together after that was at the end of July so that was the longest we'd ever gone without playing together by far.
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Our first practice in July was pretty funny too. We would all start playing the songs and then forget which parts were coming up next. We train wrecked so many times (laughs). It was kinda like learning how to walk again, and even though it took us a little while to get our musical chops back, I feel like everyone has really stepped up and taken things to the next level while we've been at home. Jesse has been on fire during these streams. It's really been inspiring to see all of the guys putting in the extra work. It's been very therapeutic for us to have this extra time to just focus on the music. 
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As far as our live stream series goes, we saw a lot of bands doing pay-per-view streams, where people have to pay to watch. That was honestly the last thing we wanted to do during a pandemic. We wanted anyone who wanted to watch to be able to watch, but we also had to figure out a way to pay our crew and cover all the production expenses. So, it was kind of a risk making ours free to watch, but I love how it turned out.  Everyone has been super supportive with their donations, and for us, the main thing we wanted was to be able to keep playing music in a safe way, and to make it accessible for anyone who needs live music in their life right now. 
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Check out Big Something's official video for "Dangerous" here:
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That's a great mentality to have, especially considering how hard you guys have been hit. Let's talk a little bit about Escape, which is scheduled for release on Friday, October 9th.
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Nick: This was a really fun album to make and also really helped us grow as a band. We started recording last summer, long before the pandemic started happening. We had the album title, Escape, already picked out. All of the songs are kind of related to that theme in one way or another. It's a concept that can be interpreted in a lot of different ways. Sometimes positive; you're escaping from things that are holding you down or holding you back. Sometimes negative; escaping from reality in a way that's not healthy. That was the inspiration behind the album concept, then the pandemic hits and 2020 turns into what feels like the apocalypse at times, and the album title kind of takes on a whole new meaning. 
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It was also our first album since our lyricist, Paul Interdonato, passed away. So that was very difficult, but also kind of therapeutic for me. A lot of these songs are the first ones I tried to write or finish without him, and it took me a really long time to get to a point where I could do that. The last song we ever wrote together, "Machines," is on there so the whole project definitely has a special place in my heart.
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I would imagine so. Over the last month or so, you've released four singles from the album. We've had a chance to hear "Heavy," "Dangerous," "Time Bomb," and "The Breakers." Will there be any material that has not been played during the recent streams?”
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Nick: I think there are a couple that our fans haven't heard yet. One of them is a reprise of "Heavy," which is basically a funky demo version of that song. Josh (Kagel) also wrote a meditational interlude that we haven't played live yet. We'll be performing all of this at our virtual album release show on Friday for the first time ever. 
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So, this Friday wraps up the Escape from The Living Room series. Everyone will have a chance to keep the new album in heavy rotation. How do you see the rest of this year and 2021 panning out? There is obviously a lot of uncertainty surrounding the immediate future of touring. 
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Nick: I would say that the whole experience of this year has been really inspiring. Through all the ups and downs, there is a lot of inspiration that can be drawn from what's going on in the world right now. Personally, I'd like to focus on taking some of that and incorporating it into more new music. We still have no idea when we're going to be able to tour again. We have some fun plans for a virtual Halloween show. We're looking into doing our first drive in shows. 
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We've been really skeptical about playing in front of audiences. The information out there is always changing. We really want to focus on keeping everyone safe and out of unnecessary harm. That's the general idea. As things change, we'll certainly roll with the punches. We're in a good place right now, and we'll continue to stay flexible with what's going on. 
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Before we wrap this up, I did want to ask you about the passing of Eddie Van Halen yesterday. Tell me about the impact and influence that he made on you as guitarist. 
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Nick: I honestly didn't get into Van Halen until I was a little bit older. I was actually just listening to Van Halen 'One' on vinyl the other day. He's had such a huge impact on guitarists and rock n roll music in general that it's hard to put into words. Trey Anastasio's post earlier today really summed it up perfectly. He's just one of those guitar gods. It seemed so effortless for him. Guitar was an extension of his person. That kind of larger than life musicianship is always super inspiring. We've lost so many great musicians throughout this year. Toots (Hibbert), John Prine, and Bill Withers...those all hit me pretty hard too. It's been such a crazy year, but it's been great to see so many people celebrate and honor their musical legacy. 
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That's the truth. Well, it's been great chatting with you today. As a big fan of the band, I couldn't be happier to see you guys continuing to adapt throughout such a difficult year. There are so many of us pulling for you guys, and we will certainly be ready when the band is able to hit the stage again. 
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Nick: Thanks so much, Jordan. I look forward to the day when we can put on a show together again! Hopefully soon. We appreciate you and everything you do. Cheers man. 
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Winston Ramble & Little Raine Band Return to Avondale on Friday June 17, 2020 22:49

Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography

Words by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

Share this article and tag a friend in the comments of our Facebook post for a chance to win a pair of tickets to this show!

The past three months have presented the music industry with a tremendous challenge. As the COVID-19 pandemic became a reality across America, live music was put on hold for the foreseeable future. This unfortunate scenario immediately left artists, booking agents, production companies, and so many others across the entertainment industry out of work. Live streams and archived video footage have become the primary source of any potential revenue, and this industry continues to need our support now more than ever. 

As we have all become accustomed to the "new norm" of a socially distant life, opportunities are beginning to surface for safe and controlled events. One of the first of such will occur this Friday night at Avondale Brewing Company, as local favorites Winston Ramble & Little Raine Band join forces in the heart of Birmingham. In an effort to create the safest possible environment, the venue has reduced capacity to 350 tickets with social distancing guidelines enforced.

Both bands will perform 90-minute sets, with Little Raine Band playing from 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM, and Winston Ramble playing from 8:50 PM - 10:20 PM. The amazing team at Big Friendly Productions is producing this show, which ensures that this will be an incredible experience from start to finish. BFP has worked tirelessly throughout this pandemic to create opportunities for bands to live steam performances and allow fans to get their live music fix from home. If there has ever been a time to show support for your local music scene, that time is now. 

Those wishing to attend are encouraged to purchase their tickets immediately, as less than 100 tickets remain available. This show expected to sell out in advance, so don't wait until it's too late. Click here to learn more and grab your tickets today. 

Earlier this week, we had a chance to catch up with Davis Little (Little Raine Band) and Taylor Goodwin (Winston Ramble) to learn more about the band's perspective on this show. It goes without saying that this is an exciting, special occasion that falls under very unique circumstances. Check out quotes from both artists below, and make sure to RSVP to the official Facebook event page for all of the latest updates on this show.

This show is very much needed. No doubt this has been the longest we’ve gone without playing a show since high school, we’re really itching to play. The date is on Juneteenth, so this is going to be a real fun celebration for Freedom Day & a display of unity within our small community. Our main hope is for everyone to be safe, wear masks, & socially distance. But ultimately have a good time, relax, & enjoy being back in the groove for the moment.
- Davis Little of Little Raine Band
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Honestly it’s just awesome to know that some live music is back on the table again. It’s a thrill to get to be a part of it, and I can’t wait to get back in action.
- Taylor Goodwin of Winston Ramble
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Watch Little Raine Band's official video for "Other Side" here:

Watch Winston Ramble's official video for "Wiser Time" here:

 


Atlanta's Noonday Sons Discuss Latest Studio Releases May 18, 2020 22:33

 

 Interview by Garrett Laurie: Live & Listen

Photo by Charles Warren

With Covid-19 shutting down every notion of attending a live performance, a lot of us are feeling the hurt, but none like the musicians we know and love. If it weren’t for Widespread Panic’s Never Miss A Sunday Show or Phish’s Dinner & A Movie I, for one, would lose it. Luckily there are working musicians that are seizing this opportunity to write and record on their own time. One of these bands is Noonday Sons, an Atlanta-based quintet that released a single that has been racking up streaming numbers on Spotify. Last month I got to sit down with Charles Warren (lead guitar) to chat about their single, “Run It Back” as well as their newest release that is out today, “Dark Hallways.” 

Formed late 2017, Noonday Sons got their start playing college shows across the southeast, as well as in Atlanta. When asked about their originals, Warren notes, “We base our sound around the improvisation we incorporate into our live shows, but we have more of a focus on the songwriting aspect and composition of songs than most jam bands.” Their emphasis on composition is wholly apparent in their debut single, “Run It Back.” The combination of a grungy tone, great groove, and steady rhythm the tune provides a great build which transitions into an expansive jam. 

The single has accrued over 50,000 streams on Spotify alone in a mere three-week span. When asked about the time frame from the release Warren states, “We released the single the second full weekend in "quarantine," March 27th. The combination of everyone being pent up for two weeks, and the fact that we ended up on a few playlists helped our stream count-out. It was good luck.” Producing a product like “Run It Back,” does not happen overnight. It requires a great deal of attention, time, and finding the right space to record. 

The uniqueness is not only in the song itself, but how recording at a friend’s home studio helped the band own their tune. Warren goes onto say, “We recorded at a studio that our friends built out (fellow Atlanta musicians and members of current touring act Frute). They built out a big studio, because two of their band members majored in audio engineering.” Not only did they record a majority of the tune in their home studio, but self-recorded a substantial portion at home before ultimately having it mastered.

Warren elaborates about how home studios are changing the way music is recorded by saying, “…you have the technology that nobody had 20 years ago to go from tapes to digital recording. The ability to build a room within a room, build your studio out the way you like it, then record at your own pace as you talk through the process with the other guys in the studio, is a great experience. It is so relaxed. Home studios have changed the way that music comes out. People release single after single now. It has become an instant process.” He also chimes in on how the relaxed nature of these studios contributes to putting out an overall well-polished product than well-established recording studios across the country. 

When asked about their latest release, “Dark Hallways,” Warren explains that it is a 180-degree turn from their previous release, saying it is, “…not as grungy as it sounds. It'll have more of an Americana sound, with bluegrass and rock undertones. It'll be a completely different sound than "Run it Back." The lighter nature of the track proves this band’s broad range and ability to master a tamer natured track.

Their new release “Dark Hallways” is available as of Thursday, May 14th on all major streaming platforms. After a dark track in “Run It Back,” the brighter track is sure to please. Atlanta friends be sure to check out Noonday Sons at Smith’s Olde Bar after Covid-19 runs its course and things get back to normal.

Special thanks to Madeline Crone & Taylor Dockery for their help with the interview. Check out the pro-shot video for Noonday Sons' “Run It Back” below:

 


CBDB Ventures "Back in Limbo" With Latest Single May 16, 2020 14:03

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Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
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While the world of live music remains at a virtual standstill due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, musicians and bands across the globe continue to adapt and explore new creative avenues. While it may be quite some time before we return to what was once the "normal" concert experience, it has been nothing short of inspiring to observe the innovation that so many artists have shown over the past few months.
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Tuscaloosa natives CBDB have been at the forefront of this creative movement; hosting weekly live streams with various band members and always staying engaged with their loyal fan base. On Friday, May 15th, the band released their latest single, "Back in Limbo," which is now available on all major streaming outlets. Along with the single, CBDB called on their fans to help produce a heartfelt, inspiring music video for these troubling times. You can stream "Back in Limbo" via Spotify and watch the full video here in this article.
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We recently had the opportunity to sit down with frontman Cy Simonton to learn more about how the band is coping and adjusting, as well as all of the details on the new tune. Check out the full interview below, and make sure to add "Back in Limbo" to your summer playlist.
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So, you guys have just released your latest single, "Back in Limbo." I figured we could start off by discussing the backstory, the writing process, and any other noteworthy facts.
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Cy: Well, it's a tune that has been on the back burner for a while. We've had the music written for a long time. With Blake (Gallant) and Chris (Potocik) joining the band, writing temporarily took a backseat to everyone getting comfortable with the whole catalogue. The original riff that started the song actually came from Mike (Sinopole), our former bassist. (Kris) Gottlieb wrote the chorus chords. We shifted some time signatures around, found the groove with the new rhythm section, and then I wrote the melody and lyrics. 
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Tell me a little bit about the song itself. Is there a good story or concept behind the lyrics?
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Cy: Yeah, totally. It's about feeling like you're in limbo. Feeling like you're stuck in between and not quite where you want to be. Specifically, it was about the member changeover within the band, and the uncertainty that came with that. It's an experience that we've been through a few times, but it always seems to produce positive results and good vibes. Now with the quarantine, we felt the lyrics were particularly poignant. "Back in Limbo" feels like what everyone is doing currently.
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So we recorded it all in separate locations from home. It started with Potocik recording drums to a live recording. He had the bones of it, and Blake followed with the bass groove. We recorded everything that way.
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That's really neat. I'm guessing you guys have never done anything quite like that...
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Cy: No...that was a very unique recording experience. We've definitely never done it that way.
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Wow. That's amazing. I already loved the track, but knowing that makes it that much more appealing. I would've never guessed you guys were all recording remotely. It has that classic CBDB sound that you guys have always produced. 
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Cy: Well I appreciate that dude. I think so too. I was really proud of everybody, and how it came together. It definitely feels cohesive. There were a few things that we changed here and there, but mostly, it was just everyone laying down hot shit on the first try (laughs). 
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That's great. I'm sure it feels nice to release a studio track with Chris on drums, too.
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Cy: Absolutely. He’s a beast. We're definitely working on a bunch more as well. That's about all I can say, but hopefully, we'll be able to share more info on that before too long.
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Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography
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Love hearing that. So aside from the new release, I've gotta ask you how the band and you personally are handling the challenge of the pandemic. What has your experience been like thus far? How are you and the band adjusting? 
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Cy: Obviously, there are so many negative aspects. We were in the middle of our biggest tour to date, so that was a huge bummer. On the other hand, it has been nice in ways. I've loved being able to spend more time at home with my fiancee, Brittan, and our dog, Yoko. As far as the music, it's been cool to get back into the acoustic stuff. I've been doing the weekly live streams, which has been fun. 
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With the band, we've been writing more rapidly than ever in the history of the band. We've been having weekly Zoom calls. Shooting ideas back and forth like crazy. Discussing what everyone has been recording and, and where we see the songs going. That's been really cool. I definitely wish we could play live shows, because not feeling the direct response of the audience is weird. I really, really miss that. But yeah, I feel like in some ways, it has been a bit of a reset button, musically and otherwise. 
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Well, we've got the new single, and apparently several more new originals in the pipeline. What else is happening the CBDB world?
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Cy: We're doing a music video for "Back in Limbo" as well. That will be debuted on Friday, May 15th. 
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What can we expect from the video? 
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Cy: Well, like I was saying, everyone recorded their own parts from home. Some of us had Go Pro's and some had cell phones. Everyone recorded their parts at home, and then (Chris) Potocik made a video using that. We also had fans send in footage of what they've been up to during quarantine. So the video consists of us playing our own parts, as well as footage of us laying low and goofing off at home. Then there is a hodgepodge of footage from fans doing crazy stuff, babies dancing, and everything in between.
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That's amazing man. Giving your fans the opportunity to be in your new music video. That's a great example of why you guys have such a loyal following. 
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Cy: Yeah man. We had already talked about the idea of doing a quarantine video. The more I started thinking about it, I realized it was a great opportunity to get everyone involved. I feel like it made the video that much more interesting. It has more of a community feel. 
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I love that. Have you guys been able to confirm any full band performances? I remember you guys had to cancel the live stream a while back.
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Cy: Yes, we have. We're super excited to get the entire band together for a live stream on Big Friendly Productions' "Hunker in the Bunker" on Saturday, May 23rd at 8:00 PM CST. 
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I know a lot of people are going to be stoked about that. I'll certainly have it on my calendar. Always a pleasure chatting man. Best of luck navigating through the rest of this crazy time.
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Cy: Absolutely. Thanks so much, Jordan.
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Watch CBDB's official music video for "Back in Limbo" here:
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Stream CBDB's "Back in Limbo" via Spotify here:
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Ghost Light's Scotty Zwang Talks McGuire Zwang Duo & Life in Lockdown May 15, 2020 10:47

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Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
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There is no doubt that we are in the midst of the most uncertain and troubling times that the world of music has ever seen. In nearly the blink of an eye, all forms of live music and entertainment were shut down amidst the COVID-19 global pandemic. The mission of Live & Listen has always been to provide a valuable platform for our favorite bands and musicians to build their audience, and there has never been a more important time do so.

Ever since catching Dopapod for the first time in 2014, I've been absolutely blown away by drummer Scotty Zwang. His energy, stage presence, and technique demands your attention and never fails to entertain from start to finish. Zwang has since moved on and toured with a number of nationally touring acts, most notably Ghost Light, which also features guitarist Tom Hamilton (Joe Russo's Almost Dead), keyboardist Holly Bowling, guitarist Raina Mullen, and bassist Dan Africano.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Scotty to learn a little more about his latest project, McGuire Zwang Duo, as well as how he's coping with life in quarantine. While this is a tremendously challenging time for professional, nationally-touring musicians, folks like Scotty are making the most of the situation and preparing to come back stronger than ever. Check out the full conversation below and make sure to follow McGuire Zwang Duo on all major social channels.

Photo by Donna Winchester: DonnasPics

Well, we're certainly in the midst of some crazy, uncertain times. This pandemic has hit the music industry as hard as any. How is everything going on your end, and what are you doing to stay productive and keep your mind in the right place?

Scotty: For sure. It's definitely a big change of pace. For so many of us, it has taken away what we do for a living, which is performing live. The music industry has evolved in a way that the most important thing you can do now is tour, sell tickets, and sell merchandise. Over the years, album sales have been down a lot. So this pandemic has definitely been tough and very different. The hardest aspect for me is that I live in an apartment. I'm trying as many different ways as possible to get creative. I've shifted a lot of focus to writing music. I will produce or write songs in Ableton, which is a digital workstation that I've grown comfortable with using over the years. It's been challenging to figure out what it is that I can do differently from touring. I've been fortunate to be able to play drums on the road so often, whether it be rehearsals or just having a place to play, that I've never really worried so much about not having a drum kit in my living space. My fiance and I had been looking for a more comfortable living situation, and the spot that we found was an apartment. 

There's just no room to set up a drum kit, on top of the noise issue and dealing with neighbors. It's been a major shift, and I've also had to shift my career back to teaching a lot more, which has been incredible. I've definitely realized how much I have missed teaching and just how rewarding it is to teach. Especially younger, or even just newer students, and just kind of kick starting their musicianship with the instrument. I've only been able to do it with a drum pad, but there is so much you can do with just a pair of sticks and a drum pad. Some of my students don't even have a drum pad. They just have their sticks, and they're playing on their bed or a pillow or whatever it might be. In the very early portion of the pandemic, some of them didn't even have sticks. We would just go over rhythm with their hands on percussion instruments or toys at home. I don't have any of that here, so I would just be doing it on a stack of paper plates and bowls (laughs).

Sounds like Trey Anastasio playing on rolls of toilet paper and wine glasses.

Scotty: Yeah, exactly. This pandemic gives you the opportunity to be a little more creative than you normally would have been. So, it's been rewarding in that sense, where I am spending a lot more time writing and teaching. I'm very grateful that I still have some form of income, as well as feeling really fulfilled, finances aside, with teaching, creating new music, or doing whatever it is that I normally wouldn't have time to do because I'm on the road. 

I've heard similar feedback from other musician friends who have had to direct all of their efforts to teaching. It's great to see those who are being able to stay busy and generate some new income. I know that hasn't been the case for everyone though.

Scotty: Yeah, for sure. Fortunately, I have my weekly lessons with students that I have built a strong student/teacher relationship with. With the technology of Zoom, Skype, or whatever it is that you're using, this is something that we can even continue when life gets back to normal when we're on the road. 

That seems to be one positive from all of this. I feel like a lot of musicians have realized that they can continue to teach virtually and generate additional income throughout the year, which is great to see. 

Scotty: Exactly. That's kind of my plan moving forward. Why not? Continue to teach. More so than just the income that's being missed by not touring, it's that much more rewarding to be able to play concerts at night and be able to teach during the day. You can do that from anywhere as long as you have a strong internet connection. That's kind of my plan moving forward from here. 

Well let's dive into the McGuire Zwang Duo. Tell me about the backstory. How did this project get started, and how have things progressed to where you are now?

Scotty: Ian (McGuire) and I have been playing music together since just before 2010. We were in a band called Sonic Spank. That's kind of where I started playing a little bit more in the jam scene and primarily the "livetronica," if you will, genre of music. Ian has always been one of my favorite keyboardists, both classically trained from a young age, as well as jazz trained at the Berklee College of Music. He's always been super fun to work with, and we have a great relationship. We're able to think very like minded, rhythmically, on a musical sense. We feed off of each other in a very special and unique way. 

When I moved to Philly in 2017, we had talked about doing a new project. There would be these opportunities where someone might need a band to open on a show they're putting together, but there isn't much of a budget. So I was thinking about how I could put something together with as few musicians as possible, in order to get the best bang for our buck. That kind of formed this band, which was originally called McZwang, and we decided to change the name to McGuire Zwang Duo. It sounds a little more profession, and it really helps showcase that it's just the two of us in this thing. Plus, it doesn't sound like a fast food chain (laughs). 

It worked pretty well for the Benevento Russo Duo.

Scotty: Exactly. We kind of took a page out of their book. I know they started similarly. There wasn't much of a budget. One of them had a residency at The Knitting Factory and had to figure out how to make that money go around and put more of it in your pocket. So, we've just been working on that. We've been working on an EP and putting out a record, because we haven't had much music out. When we changed the name, we had a little celebration show at this studio here in Philadelphia that also does smaller live shows. We had a gathering where we could capture that energy of a live show, but in a much more intimate setting. 

We just released our first set. Which is really the first half of a show with just Ian and I. During the second half, we had Danny Mayer on guitar, who plays with Eric Krasno Band. He's also in Star Kitchen with Marc Brownstein. We also had Jon Coleman, who is one of our favorite bassists. His band is called Muscle Tough. He does a lot with the Philly music scene, so we invited those guys to play the second half of the show with us. In the next few weeks, we will put out the second recording. For now, we've just released the first half, which focuses specifically on Ian and I as a duo. 

Very cool. You've obviously been involved with several major projects at this point in your career. What has this project allowed you to do differently as a musician? What about this duo excites you on a creative level?

Scotty: This kind of combines everything that I have learned over the past decade of touring full time. It takes all of those nuggets that I have learned over the years and combines them into a small, compact project. When you have several other musicians involved, whether it's a trio or even five people, as we have with Ghost Light, it can become harder and harder with all of those people connecting. It takes a lot of practice, but you can have that connection with however many people in a band. When you can have that connection between just two people, that stream of consciousness can happen so much faster. Especially with Ian, who at this point I've been playing music with longer than anyone else I've played with in the 20-25 years I've been playing my instrument. 

There is a connection there that is very different than anything I've ever done. It kind of takes everything we've learned from live improvisation and electronic dance music, and it incorporates more of the modern jazz approach that is happening now with people like Mark Guiliana and his band Beat Music, which has been a big influence on us. He also has a project with Brad Mehldau which is called Mehliana. Taking more of that jazz approach and the fusion on danceable jazz and electronic music. Maybe some of the Squarepusher influence as well in there. Trying to cater to not only what we're used to in the jam band scene, but also trying to stretch out into new avenues that we've never played in before. 

Listen to set one from McGuire Zwang Duo at Boom Room Studios here:

That's awesome. So you guys just released the first set of the live session. Have you guys released any studio material at this point?

Scotty: We've wrapped up production on our first EP. It's not quite a full album. It should be out later in the year. We're still wrapping up a few things there. We were going to try and release it pretty soon, but then all of this other stuff happened. It had to take a back seat, so we could figure out what life during a pandemic was going to look like. 

Well, I know it's hard to figure out exactly what the future is going to look like. Hopefully, you'll be able to get back to touring before too long. You obviously have Ghost Light continuing to take off. I'm sure that will continue to trend in a positive direction. How do you foresee the balance working out, and just how active do feel that the duo can be on your calendar?

Scotty: Over the last year or so, I've been having a much bigger focus on my life and work balance. When I was with Dopapod, we were playing anywhere from 120-150 shows a year. It was a lot of touring, and there wasn't much balance with my life. It was easy to feel a little burnt out. With Ghost Light, that has obviously been my main focus, but I did want to have something else to be able to focus on as well. Something to divide my time musically when Ghost Light is not on the road. We're only doing about 70 shows a year, and there is definitely some extra time in there to have other focuses creatively. I'm still balancing things out and making sure I put time aside for myself, life with my family, and obviously my fiancee. It's looking like I'll be doing Ghost Light about 1/3 of the year, and close to but not as much with McGuire Zwang Duo. 

Our aim is about 50 shows a year, maybe a little more depending on where it goes. We're going to try to do baby steps from there. Before any of this happened, Ian teaches a lot of students. He also has a few other projects. He is a full-time member of Lets Danza, which features the other members of Brothers Past, which is Tom Hamilton's former band. When he's not busy doing that, or his other project CIA (which features Clay Parnell and Allen Aucoin from The Disco Biscuits), he is teaching a lot. This is kind of a way for us to focus musically on something else. Something we can be creative with and have a little more control, with it just being the two of us. Once things open back up, we're hoping to continue with that goal of at least 50 shows a year and see what happens from there. 

Love hearing that. Is there anything else pertaining to the Duo that you'd like to mention?

Scotty: Well, we will definitely have set two, featuring Danny Mayer and Jon Coleman, coming out May 22nd. A little later in the year, you should definitely be keeping an eye out for our first studio release.

Can't wait to hear all of this material. Please keep us posted and let us know whatever we can do to help spread the good word. Always a pleasure chatting with you man. 

Scotty: Likewise. Thanks so much Jordan.


The Orange Constant Peels Into Staple Sound With New Album May 12, 2020 00:07

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Georgia-based rock outfit The Orange Constant has self-released its third studio album. Featuring mostly newer material, Peel, was recorded over the past year and a half with Grammy-nominated producer John Keane with whom the band has previously worked with.

The LP digs into a familiar blend of vintage and modern rock and covers the group’s sonic spectrum; heartfelt anthems with catchy choruses ride alongside instrumental skill with psychedelic undertones.

Band guitarist and co-founder Nickalous Benson says the album benefited from a lengthier recording process and familiarity with Keane as the hometown producer.

“We’ve never before had so much time to pick at the layers,” Benson said. “You could sit back and reevaluate the music you recorded and decide if you really like it.”

The release marks the first full-length studio effort that includes all five current members of the band. 

Formed in Statesboro, Ga. in 2012 and transplanted to Athens, The Orange Constant steadily tours the greater southeast and has performed as far north as New York and west as Colorado. The new album is available for purchase or streaming on all major platforms and the band says it hopes to press vinyl this year.

Those who are interested can head over to the band’s Facebook page for a live listening party at 8:00 PM EST tonight (May 12th). They will be listening to the album in its entirety, as well as hosting a Q&A session with their fans.

Stream The Orange Constant's new album Peel via Spotify here:


Doom Flamingo's Thomas Kenney Reveals New Project OUKUO April 27, 2020 09:47

Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

Photo by Bain Stewart Media

For the past two years, we've had the great pleasure of watching Charleston's Doom Flamingo take off like wildfire in the festival scene. The dynamic six-piece's unique blend of "synthwave" provides something truly unique and fresh, which is a rare testament these days. Led by Umphrey's McGee bassist Ryan Stasik, the band's powerful sound is a product of an incredibly diverse pool of talent.

Last week, we had a chance to sit down with guitarist Thomas Kenney to learn more about his latest solo project: OUKUO. In this conversation, we learned all about Thomas's eclectic musical background, as well as what can be expected as OUKUO takes shape and grains traction. Check out the full conversation below, and make sure to stream the new single "The Blue City" while you're here.

Let's kick this off with some general background info. How did your musical journey begin?

Thomas: I started playing guitar about 16 years ago. I was in a heavy metal band in high school. As I got to college, my interests were leaning more towards blues, soul, and jazz music. I was studying a lot of jazz, as well as Brazilian and African music. I was always fascinated with anything that was "exotic sounding," whether it was Indian, African, even Caribbean music. I started college as a Jazz major, and I wasn't the most disciplined student at the time. My studies were mainly based on western classical theory. I would love to play devil's advocate with my teachers about western vs. eastern classical theory. One of my professors got frustrated and told me I should go back to the bar.

I switched my degree to English Rhetorical Studies, and I just always kept up with music. I always played in bands. Once you can read and write music, you don't need a degree to pursue it. It's an oral language. So, I moved back to Charleston after college, and I just started playing gigs. I kind of got tapped into this super rich Charleston scene here. Charleston is one of the birth places of jazz, gospel, and r&b. I'm super fortunate to play with some of the best jazz and r&b players on the planet. There's a church every 10 feet in Charleston. Every church has a band, and they're all killin'.

So yeah, I started playing with people like Mike Quinn and Ross Bogan (Doom Flamingo) about seven years ago. They were playing in a band called Wadata at the time. They were helping get the local funk scene started. After that, I started playing whatever full time gigs I could get. I kind of fell into teaching. I've always made digital music, whether it be house, hip hop, or ambient . I'd say I've been a full-time musician for about eight years now. Weddings, teaching, touring, gigging, whatever works. 

Very cool. One of the bands you play with is Terraphonics. I've always heard great things from friends in Charleston. Tell me more about that project. 

Thomas: Absolutely. Terraphonics is a highly collaborative concept. It's a blend of hip-hop, r&b, and jazz. The band an instrumental quartet, but we tend to work with various MCs and vocalists. We've played a lot of cover shows and rap cyphers. It's been a very fun experience to be a part of. 

Well I know that we want to focus on the latest project, OUKUO. So let's do that. Did I get the pronunciation right? 

Thomas: Pretty close, but it's pronounced "oo-koo-owe." This project has been brewing in the back of my mind for years and years now. It's really a combination of a ton of different influences of mine. A lot of my friends don't know this, but I'm really into euro-house music and EDM. Most people know me as a guitar player that plays blues, soul, Motown, and jazz. But I've always loved electronic music of all kinds. I love reggae and dub, and all of that late-night, grimy stuff. This project is kind of my way of expressing that side of my brain. Ideally, while it's going to begin as a DJ set, my idea is that once Doom Flamingo gets back on the road, I'll be able to hire on some of the guys to play with me. You know, similar to how Thievery Corporation does it. 

Check out OUKUO's debut single "The Blue City" here:

 

I'm glad to hear you say that. I've always enjoyed seeing electronic artists surround themselves with a live band. It naturally makes things that much more interesting.

Thomas: Yeah, and I'm really the sum of my environment. I'm really influenced by the sound of my friends. Especially my bud Ross (Bogan) who plays keys and synth in Doom Flamingo. He is just the sonic tapestry master when it comes to using effects. He has the absolute best tone, so I'm always drawing inspiration from him. I'm playing most of the parts on the OUKUO record: keys, bass, and guitar. I have my friend Shelton Dessasure on most of the tunes, who is one of my favorite local drummers. The rest I'm either sampling his takes or building drums from scratch in Ableton. I'm trying to compose it like most EDM/Hip Hop projects, but it will inevitably translate really well as a live performance.

You mentioned this has been in the back of your mind for years now. Do you feel that the experience of these last two years with Doom Flamingo has inspired you to finally bring OUKUO to life?

Thomas: Yeah, I would say it's been an influence in a really interesting way. Terraphonics tends to have this really intimate sound that draws really well in small theaters, smoky jazz bars, and places like that. Doom Flamingo has this massive sound, and it's led me to playing on some amazing stages. That's allowed me to play through some huge sound systems. I'm a believer that acoustic force; just the shear massiveness of a sound, it's almost like it's own scale or chord. It's going to affect you emotionally. 

I'm definitely composing this music with a large stage vision. This music is not for the 30-person, 55-and-up jazz crowd. It's way more bass heavy. It's way more sampling and electronic, and you'll see that Doom Flamingo uses a lot of electronics and triggering on stage. So. yeah, I'm always responding to my environment as a writer and I'm definitely composing this seeing it in the same acoustic environment as Doom Flamingo as well. 

Specifically for this release, as you begin introducing the world to OUKUO, what's the main message you'd like for people to hear?

Thomas: I would say that while it is an eclectic range of sounds, I would classify it as dance music. I'm trying not to filter out too many ideas, but my one criteria is you have to be able to dance to 90% of the tracks. There's also a mellow midnight smoke session track or two on the record, for some contrast.

That's a fantastic rule. 

Thomas: (laughs) Yeah, of course. I love dance music because it allows me to directly share with audience. It's the easiest way to take care of each other. If I can make you dance, you're going to reciprocate the energy to me. That just make's for a really great night. I would say one thing that really differentiates this from my other projects is this sound I've been working on for years by myself. It's the sample-heavy side of things. I'm a huge hip-hop fan, and I love producers like Mad Lib And Timbaland, and all of the producers in that vein. They are masters of taking sounds from around the world and contextualizing them in an EDM context. My travels to places like India, Morocco, Spain, Cuba... they have all made a massive impact on the way I produce and play guitar, and that's going to show up.  All of those experiences are going to melt into one world that I would describe as OUKUO.

I dig it man and really look forward to listening more. Remind me when we can expect to see the full album. 

Thomas: This is the first single, and it's part of a larger record called Gorilla. It's going to be an eight or nine track record. I'll be releasing the second single in about two months and releasing the album later in the summer.

Very cool. Well it's been a pleasure chatting Thomas. Can't wait for all of us to get back out on the road. The world needs live music right now. Thanks for everything you do.

Thomas: My pleasure. Thank you, man!

Photo via Tara Gracer Photography
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Check out OUKUO's debut single "The Blue City" here:


The Talismen Release New EP 'Extra Vehicular Activity' March 30, 2020 13:47

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Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography
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We're in the midst of the most uncertain times the live music scene has ever encountered. The concept of "social distancing" eliminates any opportunity for music fans to gather and watch their favorite bands perform in venues across the country. It's critical that we find ways to support those working in the music industry during this unexpected downtime, and purchasing / streaming new releases is a perfect way to do so.
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The Talismen, a four piece jam/rock act out of Montgomery (AL), just released a brand-new, four-song EP titled 'Extra Vehicular Activity'. The new release, which was produced by Kevin Scott (Jimmy Herring & The 5 of 7), is now available on all major online music outlets. The EP features three new originals, as well as a studio cover of Ace Frehley's "New York Groove." Extra Vehicular Activity is the follow up to the band's 2019 debut album, Jar Full of Something, which has amassed just under 200,000 total streams in 12 months. EVA was engineered by Anthony Aparro, mixed by Jason Kingsland, and mastered by Zach Pyles.
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We recently caught up with The Talismen's Jack Wagstaff and producer Kevin Scott to gather a little more insight on this project. Check out the quotes below, as well as a full stream of the new EP via Spotify. 
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"Overall, our experience recording this EP was nothing short of amazing. We have progressed so much as a band over the past year. It means so much to watch ourselves take this next step. We had a blast during our time in the studio, and we were able to make some new friends along the way. Our producer, Kevin Scott, made this a super easy and fun environment to record in. It was a such a valuable experience for us as a band. It was also a nice bonus that there were farm animals right outside of the studio." - Jack Wagstaff (keys/vocals) 
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"From my years of producing, working with such a great group of talented young musicians was an amazing experience. We're all very proud of this recording, and I'm very excited to see The Talismen's progression arise in today's music scene." Kevin Scott (Jimmy Herring & The 5 of 7) 
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Those wishing to show their support for The Talismen can purchase a digital copy of Extra Vehicular Activity by clicking here. Make sure to follow the band on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date on all of the latest happenings. You can also purchase an official "Electric Shoes" t-shirt today by visiting the band's official website.
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Album Artwork by Kyndall Cooper: Kaleidoscope Creative
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Stream The Talismen's 'Extra Vehicular Activity' via Spotify here:
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Cycles Releases New Studio EP 'Summer Dress' March 27, 2020 14:53

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The first studio work in three years from Cycles, Denver’s psychedelic-rock-fusion pioneers, is out now. Recorded at Scanhope Sound in Denver, CO and produced by Josh Fairman of SunSquabi is out now on all streaming platforms via Color Red.  

“Summer Dress was the most natural thing ever for us. We couldn’t wait to lay these songs down and Josh Fairman is the man! He made it so easy for us to record this stuff live and we made it easy for him by doing barely any overdubs or retakes. The EP takes you on a journey that reminds you to lay off your phone, pull out that summer dress, head up to the hills and throw your time into the sky because the time spent worrying about what will happen will keep you from recognizing how glorious that sunrise can actually be.” –Patrick Harvey (Guitar / Vocals)

After an incredibly busy year that found the band headlining shows from coast to coast as well as supporting acts like Umphrey’s McGee, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, SunSquabi and more, Cycles are adapting to a new way of life off the road in the developing pandemic of Coronavirus. With their entire Spring Tour postponed due to safety concerns, the band is finding new ways to bring their music to their fans while diligently planning a show-heavy Fall Tour. Recently featured on the 11E1even Group’s “Live From Out There” online digital subscription music festival the guys are busy planning more in-home experiences right now. Having just joined Nugs.net, the popular jamband-oriented streaming service, the band will now be able to bring their live-recorded shows to an eager crowd ready to listen.

In the face of all the uncertainty facing the live music industry and bands that depend on it, the Summer touring schedule for all bands has slimmed down to just a handful of festivals that have yet to reschedule. Stay tuned on the Cycles social media channels for updates and new content.

Stream Cycles new EP 'Summer Dress' via Spotify here:

Watch Cycles perform "Music's For Free" via Live From Out There:


Big Friendly Productions Announces Live Stream Series in Birmingham March 17, 2020 12:00

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Words by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography
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We have officially entered uncharted territory, as the reality surrounding COVID-19 increases throughout each day. The devastating effect that this virus has had on industries across the globe is immeasurable at this point. For the first time in American history, we've seen a total shutdown on all public gatherings, including professional sports, NCAA March Madness, and live music as a whole.
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The widespread cancellations have put the well-being of so many in jeopardy. The music industry is one of many which has come to a complete halt; leading to a very harsh reality for musicians, managers, booking agents, promoters, venue employees, and so many more. How long will this last?  When will it be safe to return to our normal lifestyle? These are perfectly reasonable questions, which seem impossible for anyone to provide a definite answer.
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We do have a bit a good news to share today. Our friends at Big Friendly Productions have officially launched a new live stream series called Hunker in the Bunker, which kicks off on Friday, March 20th with performances from Little Raine Band and Desert Island Monster Mash. The series will continue on Saturday with Winston Ramble and Zach Austin & The Lonesome, while Taylor Hunnicutt and The Yellow Dandies will close out the weekend on Sunday. HITB will continue on a Thursday through Sunday basis for the foreseeable future. 
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Here's the really cool part. This series gives you the opportunity to financially support all parties involved. As the amount of cancelled gigs continues to pile up, the music industry's total revenue is plummeting. Hunker in the Bunker allows you to make a donation of any amount to support both the artists and Big Friendly Productions, while enjoying the luxury of live music from your couch. Make sure to follow Big Friendly Productions on Facebook in order to tune in to all future live streams.
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We caught up with Alex Cape, the founder of Big Friendly Productions, to learn more about the specifics of this unique live stream series. Check out the quotes below to learn more about Hunker in the Bunker, and feel free to reach out to Alex@bigfriendlyproductions.com for further details.
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"In the past four days, we have had all shows in until May 9th cancel or postpone until further notice. It is hitting the pause button right at the beginning of our very busy spring / summer season."
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"It's massive for us. We have been planning and preparing for the last 3 months for the spring and summer festival and private event seasons.  We have had over $100k in lost revenue in the last four days."
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"We have activated a rehearsal space in downtown Birmingham to host local and regional artists that have also had cancellations. We have started with many of the bands that we work with on a regular basis. We plan on streaming as much as we can until whenever we can go back to work."
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"Our first live stream will be this Friday, March 20th from 7:00 PM - 10:30 PM. We are going to broadcast from our company's Facebook page. We will take donations via Venmo, PayPal, and Cash App and hopefully pick up local business sponsors. Donations will be split appropriately between Big Friendly Productions and the participating bands"
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Matt Slocum & Mike Robinson Discuss Life with Railroad Earth March 3, 2020 08:53

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Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
Photos by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography
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Sometimes life's next opportunity doesn't always surface through the most ideal circumstances. That would certainly be the case for the lives of Matt Slocum and Mike Robinson, who were called on to join Railroad Earth following the death of the late Andy Goessling. Goessling was one of the band's founding members, who was known for his incredible talent on guitar, banjo, dobro, mandolin, saxophone, clarinet, saxophone, flute, and many other instruments. He passed away on October 12th, 2018 after a hard fought battle with cancer. An artist of this caliber simply cannot be replaced, but the show must go on. 
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Last week, we had a chance to sit down with Slocum and Robinson on the band's tour bus, just a few hours before their performance at Birmingham's Iron City. In this interview, we learned all about each musician's musical background, as well as their unique, individual paths to this band. Robinson, who had previously been a member of The Jeff Austin Band, shared his emotional story of tragically losing his mentor and friend, while being called on to fill in for the loss of another. Austin passed away unexpectedly on June 24th, 2019, just eight months after Goessling's death. If one thing is clear, the Railroad Earth family is as strong as any, and the music continues to expand with the addition of Slocum and Robinson. 
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Thanks so much for taking a few minutes to speak with me. I'd love to start off with each of you speaking about your individual journeys which led to your new roles with Railroad Earth. 
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Matt: Well, I knew some guys based out of Atlanta: Kevin Scott and Mark Radabaugh...Mark plays drums for Donna The Buffalo, and Kevin plays bass with a whole bunch of people. I think you know Kevin, right?
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We've met a time or two. (laughs)
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Matt: So I did this session...well actually, I met Andrew (Altman) first. This was in 2009 or 2010. I did some session work with him here in Birmingham. We didn't really know each other yet. He was just another guy on the session. That's how we met. Then later on, Mark and Kevin had me come over to meet with Andrew to do a record. That's when we really got to know each other. 
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So fast forward several years, Andrew calls and asks if I would want to come fill in with Railroad Earth. That was how this all got started. If I hadn't met him through doing those sessions with Kevin and Mark, I would never have gotten the call. So it was ultimately through Andrew that I got this gig. 
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At what point in time was this?
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Matt: That was in 2017. 
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Previously to Railroad Earth, you've toured with a number of notable acts. Tell me a little more about your prior history.
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MattI started out with Oteil Burbridge, playing with The Peacemakers back in 2003...as far as national touring acts. I've played music my whole life. Oteil got me a gig with Susan Tedeschi, who I actually grew up with in Norwell, Massachusetts. When he called me and asked, "Do you know Susan Tedeschi," I was like, "Do I know her? She used to babysit me!" Anyways, I toured with Susan, then came Col. Bruce Hampton, Jeff Sipe, Jimmy Herring with Aquarium Rescue Unit. Then through Susan and Derek Trucks, they recommended me to Rich Robinson for Magpie Salute. Most recently, I've toured with Jimmy Herring's latest projects, The Invisible Whip and The 5 of 7.
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I've played with a bunch of different bands. Then Andrew called me to fill in with them. Unfortunately, one of their band members, Andy Goessling, was sick and undergoing treatment. They didn't want to try and replace him, so they decided to add keys. Then Andy got better, and I left. 
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You mentioned they weren't trying to replace him. He played at least a dozen various instruments, right? 
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Matt: Correct. Obviously, one person couldn't fill that role, which is why they ultimately called on Mike (Robinson) as well.
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I'd love to hear a little more about your background and journey to the band as well, Mike.
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Mike: Totally. If you want me to go all the way back, I grew up in Colorado. My dad is a fiddle player. I grew up playing traditional acoustic, bluegrass music, but I went to New York City to study jazz. While I was in school, I started touring with a band called Taarka. I replaced their former guitarist, Ross Martin. Then when Ross left The Jeff Austin Band, I joined up with Jeff. I played with Jeff for two years, and during those years we did three shows opening for Railroad Earth in Portland (ME), Boston (MA), and Port Chester (NY). 
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So I got to meet Andy and about as close to the original Railroad Earth lineup as you could get that year. This was early 2017 or early 2018. That next year, I left The Jeff Austin Band right around the time that Railroad Earth was touring with special guests after Andy's passing. Slocum was involved. Holly Bowling was involved. Tony Trischka was involved. Andy Falco was involved. Erik Yates was involved. It was kind of star studded, really. They were being extremely flexible, and I did three shows as one of the special guests. Ironically, it was pretty much the same run that we did with Jeff's band previously. So I got on the phone, and when they offered me the gig, I couldn't do the first few. I started in Texas, and I've done every show ever since. 
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I know you're playing a fair amount of pedal steel guitar, but you're also bringing a variety of instruments to the stage as well, right?
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Mike: Yeah...to the best of my abilities, I'm trying to cover some of what Andy was band. I play banjo, acoustic guitar, and Andy was a great dobro player. I don't really play dobro, so all of the tunes that he played dobo and lap steel on, I've been playing on pedal steel. There's a little electric guitar as well, but a lot of that is focusing on the new material. The new record was produced by Anders Osborne, who is a great electric guitar player. He plays all over the record.
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This is a new, unreleased album?
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Mike: Correct. "It's So Good" was released as a single a few months ago. "The Great Divide" was also released as a single. A few others have been introduced live. 
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Matt: The album should be out sometime this summer. 
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Was there much history with Anders Osborne prior to this album?
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Matt: I don't have any history with him. 
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Mike: No, and neither of us were involved in the initial recording. This was a while ago. Andy is actually on one of the takes. I think they started some of the demoing around the time that Andy died. They went down to New Orleans together. They hadn't done many records like this, where they went somewhere else, holed up, ate all their meals together, did all their arranging together. It was an extremely collaborative effort. I actually made it on the record after the fact with just a couple of punches. A little banjo here and there. But they really went to New Orleans and did a special thing together. I think that sonically, it really shows.
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And there isn't a set date for release, but you're thinking sometime this summer?
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Mike: Not a specific date that I know of, but yes, I would expect to see it this summer. 
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Excellent. I also wanted to ask you both about coming into your new roles with Railroad Earth. This band has such a deep catalog and a huge, passionate fan base. Fans that are very intuitive and pay such close attention to detail at each show. How was the experience of bringing in new instruments and introducing yourself as musicians to the band and their audience?
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Matt: I think for both of us, we love learning songs. Right?
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Mike: Oh yeah. 
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Matt: We love learning songs, and I'm guessing Mike did the same thing that I did. You know, "Here's the list of songs. Go find them on the internet and use your ear to learn them." 
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Mike: I think I learned 87 songs the first weekend, because they don't want to play repeats at each show. I think the grand catalog is around 300 songs, but I probably know about 150 of them at the moment. I think there were major differences between Matt and I though. The majority of the parts I had to learn already existed. I'm copying Andy's banjo parts. I'm learning Andy's dobro melody on pedal steel. I'm learning Andy's guitar intro, whereas there was never organ. There was never Clavinet. There were piano parts, but John (Skehan) plays them. Matt's coming from a place of adding himself to existing material. I'm stepping into parts that already existed. I'm learning note for note what Andy did. 
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Matt: That's so true, and it may even be harder for you, because you have to learn somebody else's stuff, and then try to be yourself. That can be a tough thing to do. You're trying to stay true to something, but also be yourself. For me, there's nothing me to "learn." I'm like, "Well, do I play organ? Do I play piano? I don't know. Just play something, and if it feels right, it feels right." You know what I mean? I don't have anything to learn really (laughs). 
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But on the other side, it was definitely challenging, because there was nothing to listen to. I don't know what to do, until I do it. Either they say, "That sounded good," or "Why don't you try it on piano instead of organ." I think it's been a challenge for both of us, because we want to be respectful to the music, and we want to be respectful to Andy, and the reason we are here in the first place. We're also trying to be ourselves. I'm not going to come here and be a robot musician. I'm going to be myself, while always trying to stay true to the music. 
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It's a challenge every day. I practice every day. I want to make sure I know what's going on, and that's the way I am with everything that I do. The way that it happens is that they give us a song, and we learn out parts by ear. There's not a lot of rehearsal in this band. Both of us learn the songs and show up on the gig. Time for the show. Hope you know your part. That's how it works.
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Mike: That being said, the thing I want to be the most clear about is that I don't think it's just showing up knowing what we're doing. The band has been incredible adjusting for a new sound. The entire thing is different, not just because of us, but they have made room for our skill set. Neither of us do what Andy did, so the gap isn't just what Andy left. It's what the band is forming around us. What we're able to do has the band to thank, because they are being extremely malleable in what they allow us to do. We get to show up and be ourselves. That's kind of the beauty of the new lineup.
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Matt: Which is really awesome of them, by the way.
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Mike: It's great for us. 
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Matt: It's unfortunately awesome. We're here because of a very unfortunate thing, which is just life. We've taken it, and they've taken it, and allowed us to be ourselves. To me, the band is really starting to gel and come up with this new thing that is Railroad Earth...
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Mike: 2.0.
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Matt: Railroad Earth 2.0. (laughs).
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So you mentioned you're about 150 songs into the catalog. I know most bands in this scene have their different rules with repeating songs and crafting each set list. Would you say "Railroad Earth 2.0" is tapping into about half of the band's catalog?
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Mike: Yeah, and more often than bringing back old stuff, they're adding new stuff. That's the fun part for me, because when it's something new, now we're making our own parts.
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Matt: That's true.
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Mike: We're not building upon something that already existed. We are together, seven people, putting a new thing together. That's when I start to get excited. Not to say that the old stuff isn't exciting. I'm 27 years old. This is amazing job for me, but when I become a contributing arranger, I have the opportunity to put together a vocal harmony part, have a say in who solos where, or what the solo section is. That's really fun for me.
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Of course. Anything that allows you to tap into your own creative channel is going to be it's own unique experience. Have you had a chance to contribute much to the actual song-writing process?
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Mike: Not yet, but I'm starting to smell that already, especially with John. John's kind of a driving force in a lot of the fiddle tunes. He and I pick a lot of bluegrass tunes together, and he will be like, "Oh, check this out." So, that's just now starting to happen.
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Matt: But Todd (Sheaffer) is predominantly the song writer. Tim has written songs. Drew has written songs. John has written songs, and they have all collaboratively written songs. Todd seems to be the main driving force behind the song-writing and lyrics. I do want to write some songs though. I've talked to Mike about it. I think it would be cool for the new guys to help out there. At least bring a form to them to say, "What can we all do with this?" We're all talking about it. This record is coming out. There are other things on the burners. 
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Mike: I think once the record is released, and we have all the new songs in the live performing catalog, then there will be much more room for some new song writing. 
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So there are some tunes on the new album which have not been performed live?
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Matt: No...only a few.
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Mike: With a couple of exceptions, we've been sort of waiting to play them live until the track gets released. 
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Matt: There is some stuff we have rehearsed. We do get around to rehearsing a few times a year (laughs).
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I'm sure you're accustomed to that after your days with Col. Bruce and Aquarium Rescue Unit.
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Matt: That band didn't rehearse at all. We'd be on stage, and Bruce would say, "We're doing this song next," and I'm like, "Huh?" But anyway, we have rehearsed the songs that we haven't played live. It's just hard to get everyone available on the same day for rehearsal. 
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So Mike, I know you mentioned that you've kind of come up through the bluegrass scene. The main thing that has always stuck out about this grouping of bands (Railroad Earth, Greensky Bluegrass, Yonder Mountain String Band, and so on) is the sense of family and camaraderie. It's been especially noticeable through the loss of two incredibly vital members: Andy (Goessling) and Jeff (Austin). It's been remarkable to watch as a fan. I was hoping you could speak to the testament of the extended "jam grass" family.
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Mike: I had been in Railroad Earth for about three months when Jeff died. Jeff was my first real boss. We rode in the van together for two years straight. He died not during, but right around Telluride Bluegrass Festival, and everyone was together for it. It was super heavy, but extremely helpful. I couldn't ask for a better group of people to be, at the point, literally living with. The Railroad guys had literally just been through this with Andy. They really were the best people to talk to about it. They knew exactly what I was feeling at the time.
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I wasn't in Jeff's band for twenty years, but it still hit me in a way that they were able to support. That goes for the fans, too. With a couple of exceptions, I think everyone at Telluride this year played a Jeff song. We played a couple that are now in the catalog. And then coming together at the 1stBank Center in Broomfield, CO was one of the more moving nights of my life. It was everybody. To see members of The String Cheese Incident, Hot Rize, Sam Bush, Yonder, Greensky, Billy Strings, Bela Fleck...to see this many people willing to show up and play for free. To watch 7000 tickets get sold in five minutes.
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It's just like, "Wow!" This scene has power that we can't really explain. For Devlyn and Jeff's family, it solved so many financial issues in a matter of hours. All it takes is a crew of people willing to do a day of work to help someone in need. It's super powerful. It's very moving.
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I can only imagine. I knew that you had been a member of Jeff's band, but I had not fully connected the dots on how this all fell into place. I'm sure it's been incredibly helpful to have that type of support from these guys who can relate.
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Just to conclude the conversation, I know you said the new album is on the horizon. What else are you guys fired up about, and what can the fans look forward to?
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Mike: Right now, we're in the middle of some pretty heavy touring. Six shows a week at times. In the spring, it's pretty much just going to become festivals. If you want to see Railroad Earth in an indoor venue, by themselves, now is the time to do it. 
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Matt: I would like to say that there is an excitement within the band. With us being new, there's a buzz going on with the music. There is some really cool shit happening. The music is on fire right now. The passion about it is on fire. It's different than it used to be. They have always been a great band. They've been around for nearly twenty years, but it's changing now. It's really starting to gel in this new way. It's been really fun for everyone to figure out how that is happening, and it's really working. 
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I'm sure that the chemistry continues to build with each show. Is this the first time you've played Birmingham with Railroad Earth?
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Matt: As a true member, yes. Last time they were here (at Avondale Brewery), they asked me to sit in on a few songs. Andy was there. I was fortunate enough to play with him a few times. He was doing better, and it was closer to home for him. Crazy to think that last time they were here, I was "sitting in" with them. 
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No kidding. Thanks so much for taking the time to chat this afternoon. Looking forward to the show!
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Winston Ramble Returns to Avondale Brewery on Saturday Night February 26, 2020 15:10

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Words by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
Photo by Alex Cape: Big Friendly Productions
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Live & Listen is giving away a pair of tickets to Saturday night's show with Winston Ramble & Miss Mojo at Avondale Brewing Company. Share this article directly from our Facebook page and tag a friend in the comments for a chance to win. 
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Birmingham's local talent will be on full display on Saturday, February 29th, as Winston Ramble returns to Avondale Brewing Company for a big homecoming show. This particular show is a special occasion for the band, as it will be the first opportunity for many to see new lead guitarist, Taylor Goodwin, in action with his new band mates. Many will recognize Goodwin from his work with several other Alabama-based groups, such as The Pearl, Taylor Hunnicutt, and Melobeat. Considering the rapid growth and continued success of Winston Ramble over the past few years, one can only imagine that the best is yet to come. 
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Saturday night's show will be held in The Upstairs at Avondale Brewery, with music kicking off at approximately 7:30 PM. The band has called on the amazing New Orleans eight-piece act Miss Mojo for direct support. Miss Mojo is known for blending neo-soul sensibilities with high-energy pop and funk music, led by two powerful women on lead vocals. The combination of these two bands should provide something for any and all music fans, and you'd be hard pressed to find a more dynamic option anywhere in the state of Alabama on Saturday night. 
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We recently had a chance to catch up with Goodwin to discuss his overall thoughts and feelings regarding this new musical venture. Quotes from this conversation, as well streaming options for Winston Ramble's two latest singles, can be found below. Make sure to RSVP to the official Facebook event for all of the latest updates on Saturday night's show! 
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"I'm having an absolute blast with these guys. We’ve been reasonably busy trying to work some different markets around the southeast. This has given me an excellent chance to get to really know all the music the way I want to, as well as spend time with the guys as I get to know them better. It’s so much fun."
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"Acclimating to the new musical space has taught me that I can always be more intentional with my playing. There is plenty of room to be more thoughtful in the parts I choose, as well as when I’m improvising. Sometimes a simple statement is the strongest one you can make."
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"I love how much there is to explore. I love the inspiration that I get from the other guys in this band, whether I’m just trying to pick up on their licks to match on stage, or we’re "nerding out" about music we’re into. There’s tons of fresh territory to check out every time we play. They’ve been turning me onto a lot of very cool music that I hadn’t dug deep enough to find. That’s exciting for me as a listener and has encouraged me to bring new ideas to my playing."
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"I'm stoked to continue writing new material with these guys. We’ve got a couple brand new tunes which are nearly ready to go, and the more rough drafts sitting right behind those at the moment. So the outlook is bright on that front." 
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Taylor Goodwin (lead guitar) of Winston Ramble
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Check out two of Winston Ramble's latest originals, "Always Will" and "Birds," below:
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An Evening with Ghost Light: Presented by Hog Days of Summer February 21, 2020 15:45

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Words by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
Photos by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography
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Live & Listen and Druids Charity Club, the local non-profit responsible for Hog Days of Summer, are joining forces to bring nationally acclaimed rock group Ghost Light to Montgomery's Capri Theatre on Wednesday, March 25th. Click here to purchase tickets!
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Back in the fall of 2016, we learned of another group of like-minded individuals who had a vision for a new, unique music festival in Montgomery. Since we launched Live & Listen in 2014, finding a way to bring the community together through music, while making a positive impact for those who need it most, has been a major focus. Upon further conversation, we knew that the guys behind Druids Charity Club were onto something special. 
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Druids Charity Club has since established one of Montgomery's most highly anticipated annual events: Hog Days of Summer. "Hog Days" is a BBQ & music celebration raising money for Hogs For The Cause, a long-standing annual music and BBQ festival in New Orleans, LA which provides grants to families facing pediatric cancer. Going into it's 4th year, Hog Days aims to be an end of Summer celeration that brings Montgomerians together in a family-friendly atmosphere to enjoy great food and Americana music. Americana-style music incorporates elements of various American styles of music, including Rock & Roll, Country, Blues, Folk, and Bluegrass to form a roots oriented sound.
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After three years, 'Hog Days' has quickly become one of Montgomery's favorite events. The event has seen it's attendance, partnerships, and fundraising grow significantly each year. The 2020 Hog Days of Summer will be held on August 22nd. Druids Charity Club will once again partner with several of the South's best BBQ curators to put on a festival experience in downtown Montgomery that will run from the early afternoon into the evening.
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We could not be more pleased to partner with Druids Charity Club for an amazing night of live music at Montgomery's Capri Theatre on Wednesday, March 25th. One of the hottest up and coming acts in the country, Ghost Light, will make their first ever stop in the capitol city. Led by guitarist Tom Hamilton (of Joe Russo's Almost Dead), the band also featured famed pianist Holly Bowling, drummer Scotty Zwang (formerly of Dopapod), guitarist Raina Mullen (formerly of Tom Hamilton's American Babies), and bassist Dan Africano. They will be fresh off a major national tour with Greensky Bluegrass, which saw the band play in many of America's most prestigious venues.

Earlier this week, Ghost Light released HD, multi-cam footage from their recent performance at Thunderbird Music Hall in Pittsburgh, PA. Check out the complete footage below and make sure to RSVP to the official Facebook event for their upcoming show in Montgomery. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by clicking here.

We recently caught up with two of the founding members of Druids Charity Club, Inge Hill and John Sullivan, who gave us a little more insight on their overall vision for the non-profit efforts and Hog Days of Summer:

"We have diverse musical tastes, but it is our opinion that nothing pairs with BBQ quite like blues and authentic country music, and all of their respective blends and offshoots. With that basic idea in mind, we strive to bring in a first class, family-friendly bill which loosely spans ‘Americana’ and roots influences such as blues, country, folk, bluegrass, and rock & roll.

So much of the popular music we hear on the radio today can be traced back to southern backroads and porches; we feel fortunate to be playing our small part in keeping these musical traditions alive in our community. Community has always been an integral component in both BBQ and this style of music, and therefore, our event. Our focus on the family is why we think the train shed is the best venue around for a multi-generational celebration such as Hog Days. It warms our heart to see kids dancing up front to the same music that is moving their parents. A statue of Hank Williams stands guard outside our venue, so that is a high standard and a long shadow which we try to respect."

- Inge Hill: Druids Charity Club

"We are a 501(c)3 non-profit organization made up exclusively of volunteers. We give all of the profits from this event to Hogs for the Cause, a charitable organization which provides financial grants to children with cancer. Often overlooked in the spectrum of cancer treatment is the financial strain placed on a family when their child is diagnosed. Parents are forced to miss work for various reasons, whether it be to sit with their child during treatments or care for them when they are struggling with the side effects of chemotherapy. Many parents lose significant wages or even their jobs in this process. They often get behind on their mortgage, struggle to pay for utilities, or simply cannot afford to drive to Birmingham for their treatments. Our efforts lessen this burden." 

John Sullivan: Druids Charity Club 


Drifter Merch Announces Inaugural Bert Griggs Memorial Jam February 14, 2020 10:36

Press Release via Drifter Merch

Drifter Fest: The Inaugural Bert Griggs Memorial Jam will be held on March 6th-8th in Charleston, SC. The music-filled weekend will celebrate the life of Drifter Merch founder Bert Griggs who died unexpectedly in December. Bert's designs made an impact on the jam band music scene offering innovative designs that reached far and wide. The festivities kick off on Friday night with a pre-jam from 8-11pm at Home Team BBQ’s downtown location featuring several sets of funk favorites from Shonuff band. Doors for the Drifter Fest: The Inaugural Bert Griggs Memorial Jam open at 8pm at the Charleston Pour House.

Inside the venue from 8:30pm-1am, patrons will enjoy a collaboration of Bert’s favorite tunes from many of his friends including Reid Stone and bands Gaslight Street, The Travelin’ Kine, Shonuff, Solid Country Gold and more. The weekend concludes on Sunday from 2pm-5pm at Reckoning in the Park featuring The Reckoning, an awesome Grateful Dead cover band, in the meadow at James Island County Park. Guests will enjoy a weekend of fun events combined with great company, stories and live music. 

Born and raised in Hartsville, Bert Griggs was surrounded by a huge family and lifelong friends as he grew up in the country riding tractors, four-wheelers and being mischievous. Bert later graduated from the College of Charleston with a B.S. in Business Administration. He remained in Charleston after college working in all aspects of the hospitality industry while working for Charlestowne Hotels. It wasn’t long before the mountains called his name and he headed to Jackson Hole to pursue his love of snowboarding. While there, Bert was the sales and marketing director of a hotel group that gave him the opportunity to travel to world-class ski resorts all over the country as an ambassador for Jackson Hole. He met his wife Lorrie while she was vacationing there from Charleston and discovered they both had a love of traveling to see live music and a plethora of mutual friends.

Following a whirlwind romance, they married on April Fools’ Day atop the mountain at Jackson Hole Ski Resort. Together they created Drifter Merch, an apparel company dedicated to their love of music. Soon after, they returned to Charleston where Bert’s passion for graphic design grew as did their business. Their company vended at many shows, festivals, events and handled custom orders for numerous businesses (Google, Vida-Flo, Moe's Original BBQ), bands (Dickey Betts Band, Dead 27s, Travelin' Kine), schools and events. The light of their lives, Harper Grace, was born about a year later. Bert was an amazing father, husband, son, brother, and friend. Bert had an innate ability to make everyone he met feel like they were the most important person in the room. He never met a stranger. In fact, he was everyone’s best friend. He had the sweetest soul and a tender heart that loved hard and loved deeply. Bert had a unique sense of humor with an infectious laugh and smile that could light up the darkest room. He is intensely missed.

For interviews, photos or additional information, please contact Lorrie Dixson Griggs of Eskimo Advertising at lorrie@eskimoadvertising.com.

Artwork by Corey Grantham of Carolina Printing

Artwork by Tripp Shealy: Tripp’s Prints


CBDB & Kendall Street Company Embark on National Tour February 12, 2020 15:29

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Words by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
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It's already been a huge year for both CBDB & Kendall Street Company, and neither band shows any sign of slowing down anytime soon. Tuscaloosa natives CBDB just finished up a two-week tour with Spafford, which saw them play to capacity crowds at many of the most notable venues in the southeast. They have also confirmed major festival appearances such as The Peach Music Festival and Pigeons Playing Ping Pong's Domefest. Kendall Street Company, which hails from Charlottesville (VA), has recently confirmed a handful of impressive festival plays, such as SweetWater 420 FestivalLOCKN' Festival, and Some Kind of Jam 15. These are two of the hottest rising acts in the country, and what lies ahead should have all music fans fired up.
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The two bands embark on a 20-date national tour next week. The festivities kick off on Wednesday, February 19th at Gasa Gasa in New Orleans (LA) and continue with stops in Texas, Colorado, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland. The tour commences with a huge finale at New York City's Gramercy Theatre on Saturday, March 21st
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Live & Listen is proud to offer an exclusive ticket + merch giveaway for the upcoming tour, which includes two tickets to any show on this run, an official tour poster signed by members of both bands, and a t-shirt from both bands. Simply head over to our Facebook pageshare the post which includes this article, and tag a friend in the comments section to enter the contest. We will select a winner on Wednesday, February 19th at 10AM CST.
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"This new year has brought an incredible new energy that we've been enjoying immensely in our shows. The tour with Spafford was a fantastic experience, and we are riding that wave into our longest national tour to date with another great band in Kendall Street Company. We can't wait to see what unfolds." - Cy Simonton of CBDB
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"We're excited to see what 2020 has in store for us! Along with two (or perhaps three) new records on the horizon, our upcoming Winter Tour with CBDB will take us all across the country in true Woody Guthrie fashion. From Louisiana to Texas, Colorado to Wisconsin, Ohio to Boston, New York City and more. We can't wait to bring our music to new locations and audiences." - Jake Vanaman of Kendall Street Company
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CBDB & Kendall Street Company Tour Dates
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•2/19 New Orleans: Gasa Gasa
•2/20: Houston, TX: Last Concert Cafe
•2/21: Austin, TX: Mohawk
•2/22: Dallas, TX: Three Links
•2/27: Ft. Collins, CO: Avogadros Number
•2/28: Steamboat Springs, CO: Schmiggitys
•2/29: Denver, CO: Cervantes Masterpiece
•3/3: Milwaukee, WI: Linneman’s Riverwest Inn
•3/4 Madison, WI: High Noon Saloon
•3/5 Appleton, WI: The Bent Keg
•3/6 Chicago, IL: Beat Kitchen
•3/7 Grand Rapids, MI: Founders Brewing Company
•3/11 Columbus, OH: The Summit
•3/12 Cleveland, OH: Beachland Tavern
•3/13 Pittsburgh, PA: The Smiling Moose
•3/14 Richmond, VA: River City Roll
•3/18 Baltimore, MD: The 8x10
•3/19 Philadelphia, PA: Boot & Saddle
•3/20 Boston, MA: Middle East
•3/21 New York, NY: Gramercy Theatre
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About The Band: CBDB

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

Watch CBDB's full performance from Variety Playhouse [02.01.20] here:

About The Band: Kendall Street Company

From late night jam sessions at the University of Virginia to main stages at venues and festivals throughout the country, Kendall Street Company has broken the mold of improvised rock and enters a world of jazz-grass infused psychedelic bliss. With no two shows ever the same, word of mouth has quickly grown a ravenous fanbase eager to hear their favorite studio tracks explored and extended as part of a live community. As seasoned KSC fans can tell you, any one of their songs could easily turn from a fun sing-along, into a cacophonous headbanging garage-rock soundscape, to a Klezmer-disco dance party, and then resolve into a peaceful ambient meditation that evokes nostalgia of your childhood.
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Averaging over 100 shows per year since 2013, the band is currently comprised of Louis Smith [Acoustic guitar, vocals], Brian Roy [Bass, vocals], Ryan Wood [Drums], Ben Laderberg [Electric guitar], and Jake Vanaman [Saxophone]. For such a young band, their accomplishments are remarkable. Kendall Street has performed at festivals such as Lockn’, Roosterwalk, Floydfest, Resonance, and Domefest and has opened for acts such as Papadosio, Umphrey’s McGee, Tauk, and Leftover Salmon. All the while, the band has proudly released three records and two EPs on their own label. Their most recent 2019 release, “Lunar Dude” showcases their versatility and virtuosity, and was met with overwhelming support.
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Charging into 2020 at full speed, The Company has no shortage of tunes and stories to share with the world. Their Winter Tour with CBDB will be their biggest yet, bringing them to myriad new locations and audiences. In addition to a hard-working tour schedule, the band has plans to release two (perhaps three!) albums throughout the year. 
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Watch Kendall Street Company's music video for "Lunar Dude" here:
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Back Forty Birmingham Confirms Lineup for Inaugural Music Festival February 4, 2020 11:27

 

Click Here: Purchase Tickets to Back Forty Social

Appearing national touring acts including North Mississippi Allstars, Keller Williams, Spafford, The Soul Rebels, The Motet, Kitchen Dwellers, Ryley Walker and Little Raine Band.

Back Forty Beer Company Birmingham and Big Spring Entertainment are proud to announce the full lineup for the first year “Back Forty Social”, to be held at Back Forty in Birmingham, Alabama. This one-day, all ages music festival will feature eight acts on one main stage and includes multiple genres spanning Bluegrass, Folk, Funk, Americana, Jam Band, and Southern Rock. Tickets start at $40 for the all-day event, and children 12 and under receive free general admission when accompanied by a paying adult.

Officially joining the lineup for the all day event are Jam Band staples Spafford. Spafford is known for their astonishing improvisational ability, which they’ll use to play live off the cuff extended jams. Each song is a blank canvas, and Spafford paints a picture in real time each night with a musical palette known only to each other. It’s a private language comprised of their talent as musicians, and of their formidable catalog of influences - ranging from Steely Dan, electronic acts like The Crystal Method, to 90’s alt rock radio hits. Every show is a sonic pilgrimage – the journey of a team of musicians so in tune with each other that a single note communicates intent and purpose.

Even though the band thrives off the electric pulse of live shows, the same energy also translates into their studio efforts. Their 2018 release “For Amusement Only” hits to the heart of Spafford – tight, inventive, and dexterous musicianship coupled with clever retro-pop inspired songwriting. Songs like “Leave The Light On” highlight their influences – from the melodic styles of Alanis Morissette to the rhythmic bounce of Bob Marley. Other tracks like “Ain’t That Wrong” and “Slip and Squander” are rich with other signature Spafford signs: vibrant vocal harmonies, complex and catchy arrangements, and sparkling, powerful performances.

Artists appearing at The 2020 Back Forty Social include, in order of appearance: Little Raine Band, Ryley Walker, Kitchen Dwellers, The Motet, The Soul RebelsSpafford, Keller Williams, and North Mississippi Allstars.

Admission: Tickets for the Back Forty Social are on sale now at Ticketmaster.com and BackFortySocial.com, with prices ranging from $40 General Admission to $85 VIP. Information about site layout, lineup schedule, and more will be released on the event’s website and social media channels over the next few weeks. 

About Back Forty Beer Company Birmingham: In 2018, Back Forty Beer Company joined Birmingham's thriving craft beer scene with the opening of its new 16-tap microbrewery at Sloss Docks. Freshly brewed beers include Naked Pig, Truck Stop Honey and other core recipes, plus a steady rotation of new experimental beers available only in the local market: Beers like "Crow Point" - their juicy New England IPA, "Hike Out Hefe" - their popular, traditional German Hefeweizen and “Hop Tosh” a perfectly balanced Northwest Coast IPA. Back Forty has a full restaurant with amazing dishes like the Back 40 Cheeseburger, Pizzas and the napinducing Poutine. Customers are invited to grab a beer and a burger and enjoy the dramatic views of Sloss Furnaces at Back Forty Beer Company. Learn more at backfortybeer.com/Birmingham.

About Big Spring Entertainment: is a full-service concert and entertainment promotion company based in Huntsville, AL with offices in Nashville, TN and Birmingham, AL. BSE buys, promotes, and produces events across the South, Southeast, and Midwest specializing in music halls, clubs, theaters, performing art centers, arenas, amphitheaters, and festivals. Big Spring Entertainment is also the owner-operator of The Druid City Music Hall in Tuscaloosa, AL.

Here's a look at what you can expect from this year's lineup!

North Mississippi Allstars

 

Keller Williams

 

Spafford

 

The Soul Rebels

 

The Motet

 

Kitchen Dwellers

 

Ryley Walker

 

Little Raine Band


Spafford & CBDB Deliver Jam-Filled Tuesday in Birmingham January 29, 2020 17:07

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Words by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
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Photos by Craig Baird & Penelope Josephson
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Last night in Birmingham, music fans were treated to one of the more jam-filled occasions in recent memory. Spafford has built a strong reputation for extended jamming and mind blowing improvisation, and this was certainly on full display at Saturn. While the band's winter tour features a number of quality supporting acts, the Birmingham faithful could not have been more excited to see Tuscaloosa natives CBDB added to this show earlier this month.
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Given CBDB's loyal fan base across Alabama, it was no surprise to see such a strong crowd anxiously awaiting as they took the stage. While I've been fortunate enough to see this band on many occasions since 2015, it had been just over a year since we last crossed paths. This would be the first opportunity for many to see the band's new drummer, Chris Potocik, in action. The fan favorite "Ground Score" kicked off the set and ultimately landed in a debut cover of Miles Davis' "Black Satin." Guitarists Kris Gottlieb and Cy Simonton would then lead the band into "Patterns," a track you can find on CBDB's latest album Out of Line.
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Next up was "Smile Real Big," one of the band's staples from their 2012 release Phone Keys Wallet. The upbeat vibe continued as bassist Blake Gallant hit the opening notes of "She's Mobile," an original which may feature my favorite vocal work from Simonton. Just as the band hit their 45-minute mark, they nailed the transition back into "Ground Score" and closed out as the set just as powerfully as it began. 
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The Tuesday night crowd continued to fill in as Spafford prepared to take the stage. Guitarist Brian Moss immediately kicked things into high gear with the opening notes of "All My Friends," and we were off to the races. This would be the beginning of what felt like two marathon sets. We would get our second selection from the band's Taste of Fall 2017 live release as they transitioned into a scorching rendition of "Bee Jam." It's safe to call this one a "jam vehicle," as Tuesday night's take clocked in at just under an hour. One of my personal highlights came in the form of "Settled In," an original which was debuted just over a year ago and played only a handful of times in 2019. While it seemed hard to believe, the nearly 80-minute set featured just three songs, with each featuring the one-of-kind jamming we've come to expect from this band.
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After a brief set break, these guys would pick up right where they left off. Bassist Jordan Fairless hit the opening notes of "It's a Bunch," which was greeted with an emphatic response from the "Spaffnerds" stretched out across the front row. This is the song that won me over back in 2016 and led me to dive deeper into the Spafford catalog. I couldn't have been more pleased to sit back and watch this journey unfold. Moss and keyboardist Andrew "Red" Johnson slowly but surely directed the band into a killer take on Bob Marley's "Exodus." I've always admired this band's overall approach towards covers, and this was as perfect example why. The opening notes of "Windmill" had the entire room grinning from ear to ear and eager for one last raging sing-a-long. 
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If you were hungry for mind-bending jams and sonic exploration, Spafford's performance in Birmingham was just what the doctor ordered. I found it very fitting that they tacked on the classic "Catfish John" for the encore. After the intensity of those three-song marathon sets, this was a perfect and refreshing way to close out the evening. This band seems to be settling in to their new Birmingham home just fine, and we will be anxiously awaiting their next appearance in town.
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