Listening Station: Joshua Hedley Steps to the Forefront

By Brent Thompson

 

For an artist in his thirties, Joshua Hedley has a deep reverence and understanding of timeless Country music. A longtime touring sideman and stalwart figure at Nashville’s famed Robert’s Western World, Hedley now steps front-and-center for his debut release, Mr. Jukebox (Third Man Records). A 10-track collection including nine originals and a breezy version of “When You Wish Upon A Star,” the album assures us that Hedley’s voice will be heard for many years to come. Harkening back to the classic sounds of Jim Reeves, Ray Price, George Jones and Conway Twitty, Hedley pulls off a difficult proposition – sounding fresh and timeless at once. And given the success found by modern Country artists who draw on traditional styles (Margo Price, Sturgill Simpson, Tyler Childers, Chris Stapleton), the timing and climate couldn’t be better for Hedley to make this artistic statement.

Married to the Music: A Conversation with Neon Moon

By Brent Thompson

Many songwriters admittedly wait for inspiration to strike when it comes to creating new material. But for the self-proclaimed “twangy Americana duo” Neon Moon – comprised of married couple Josh and Noelle Bohannon – songwriting is a craft that requires discipline and determination. To that end, Neon Moon recently completed a project called Our52Songs that found the duo releasing a song each week on YouTube for a calendar year. The band’s debut album, 6:53, consists of five songs written during that period (plus one additional track that forms the album’s title). Currently, the band is touring throughout the South and on Sunday, April 22, Neon Moon will perform at The Nick. Recently, Josh and Noelle spoke with us by phone from their Nashville home.

Birmingham Stages: Josh and Noelle, thanks for your time. Given the large number of songs you posted on YouTube, how did you choose the six tracks for the 6:53 release?

Noelle Bohannon: Out of those 52 songs, there were all sorts of songs of different genres. We picked five – there might be more on the next record from this project – but we picked five that we felt passionate about and felt that fit that throwback Country feel.

Josh Bohannon: I don’t know if there was a rhyme or reason – we just felt really connected to the ones that are on the record. Initially, there were only five [songs] on the record and we felt strongly about that and we went back later and wrote the sixth one – the 53rd song; hence 6:53. It was hard to push some of them back for a later date, but we weren’t really sure how well the project was going to be received, so we weren’t really sure about diving in head-first. Those were the five we felt strongly about so we wanted to dip our toes in the water with them initially. We figured we could always come back and put more out, which is what we’re hoping to do later this year.

Birmingham Stages: Your band is a great example of how artists can utilize modern outlets  – including YouTube and Facebook – as a method of distributing and publicizing your music. Overall, how do you view the climate for artists these days?

JB: It is one of the best times to be alive for releasing music as an artist because you have so many avenues and have the possibility of having your music heard. With that, there’s also a level of saturation that comes with it too. For us, all we can do as artists is try and write the best material that we can and put it out into these avenues and, hopefully, people are actively searching for good music.

Birmingham Stages: It seems the current environment allows for flexibility in how frequently – and to what volume – you release your music.

JB: I grew up in a generation when albums really mattered and listening to a 12-to-15 track cohesive piece of work was something really special. This day and age feels like it’s moving back into a singles-driven world. It’s sad in a way that the older model is going out. We are just trying to figure out a way to find our place.

Birmingham Stages: Your timing seems to be good as the “throwback” style of music you referenced is reaching a wide audience these days. Sturgill Simpson, Tyler Childers, Margo Price and Chris Stapleton are all having success in performing honest music with traditional sounds.

NB: Yeah, it’s a cool thing that our timing ended up being what it was and we’re stoked about it.

Birmingham Stages: It’s unique that you are able to do this together. Most married artists leave a spouse at home when they hit the road, but you are able to forge your career as a couple.

JB: It’s really a blessing to be able to be on the road and be on this journey with somebody you’re so close to. We’re almost 10 years into our marriage and we know how to navigate it and not push each other’s buttons as much. The road is stressful enough so we try to be as compatible as possible.

NB: We just put on a podcast and cruise [laughs].

Photo Credits: Ashley Wasley (top) and Kristy Rodgers

Neon Moon will perform at The Nick on Sunday, April 22. Justin Howl with Sam Frazier, Jr. and Justin Nelson round out the evening’s bill. Doors open at 9 p.m. and showtime is 10 p.m. Tickets to the 21+ show are $6 and can be purchased at www.thenickrocks.com.

Road Trip Review: Jimmy Buffett in Alpharetta, Ga. 4-17-18

By Brent Thompson

 

If Father Time really exists, then Jimmy Buffett isn’t taking his calls. On Tuesday, April 17, the 71-year-old Mayor of Margaritaville bounded youthfully across the stage during his two-hour, 26-song set at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Alpharetta, Ga. Backed by a stalwart band that includes CMA-decorated musician Mac McAnally, Buffett gave Peach State Parrotheads the hits they paid to hear.

Well-worn Buffett staples including “Margaritaville,” “Fins,” “Volcano,” “Pencil-Thin Mustache,” “Son of a Son of a Sailor” and “A Pirate Looks at Forty” rang alongside familiar covers including “Southern Cross” and “Take It Easy.” A surprise show-stopping moment occurred when McAnally took over the stage for a dizzying solo rendition of Duane Allman’s open-tuned opus “Little Martha.” Island and coastline video images – coupled with Atlanta-specific footage that drew cheers from the sold-out crowd – provided the onstage backdrop for Buffett and his Coral Reefers. Opening act Caroline Jones played a spirited, brief set and later joined Buffett for a duet version of “Come Monday.”

Simply put, a Jimmy Buffett concert still provides the kind of escapism that many of us seek, even if it’s only for one evening. Your doctor was back in his office today, but last night he sported a coconut bra. And your lawyer? Well, she donned her grass skirt.

The show was Buffett’s first performance at the Alpharetta venue but something says it won’t be his last. In addition to his self-proclaimed “summer job” of amphitheatre-hopping, Buffett will co-headline shows with The Eagles in Miami, Minneapolis and Denver this year.

https://www.margaritaville.com

 

Words and Feelings: A Conversation with Nicole Atkins

By Blake Ells

 

Nicole Atkins released her fourth full length record, Goodnight Rhonda Lee, on Florence, Alabama’s Single Lock Records in 2017. It’s been critically adored and for good reason—with the effort she managed to create her own unique version of Soul that is rooted in the Americana to which fans of the North Alabama tastemaking label have grown accustomed. 

Before returning to Birmingham for the first time in five years, she spoke about that unique sound, getting sober, Nashville, her relationship with John Paul White, Single Lock Records and one wild night at The Nick.

Birmingham Stages: You went in a little bit of a different direction with Goodnight Rhonda Lee. It’s a bit of a new sound for you. What inspired that?

Nicole Atkins: I always experiment with all of my records; with different sounds and what I’m listening to at the time. I’ve had quite a few friends that listen to a lot of prog rock. It’s kind of my own version of Prog Rock. On my first record, when I started making the songs, my friend in town had a studio and he was always like, “All of your song sound like they were written for a 1960s musical.” So I stacked all of the backup vocals—because I couldn’t play lead guitar—and the label said, “Oh, she sounds like a girl group.”

I kind of wanted to get back to that, but to do a record in a very focused way, where the sound was more consistent and more aligned to what we sound like live as a band. I had a friend that I met while I was getting sober, and he said, “Girl, you’re Soul here. You’ve got to make a Soul record.”

So I worked for a few years to write my version of Soul music, not just regurgitate other people that have come before. I would take a Country song and put a Bobby “Blue” Bland groove underneath of it. So yeah, I worked for a few years to try to make it happen.

Birmingham Stages: How long have you been sober?

NA: It’s been over a year now. It was a year in February. 

Birmingham Stages: Do you feel like that made you better as a songwriter and performer?

NA: I grew up on the Jersey Shore. It’s a hard partying town. That’s just what everybody does. That’s what my family does. It was inhibiting my creativity because it was basically just making me depressed. “Maybe if I cut this out, I won’t be so depressed anymore.”

It definitely helped.

Birmingham Stages: That Soul sound also has an Americana sound. It’s something really unique that you did with this record. Did that influence come from your time in the Carolinas?

NA: That’s when I got turned on to songwriting. It’s a funny story; I was just telling my friend about this because she’s a lot younger than me. Remember when “Americana” was called “Alt-Country?”

Birmingham Stages: Yeah! And you actually wrote with Old 97s back in the day, right?

NA: Yeah, I wrote a song with Rhett [Miller] for the last Old 97s record. I had no idea he was going to put it on there; I thought we were just writing for fun because we had both quit drinking and we were both trying to bide our time before a show. But yeah, that was cool. That was a little college trophy.

Do you remember Sassy magazine?

Birmingham Stages: Yeah.

NA: Well, you’re a guy, so probably not. But Sassy magazine was a cool magazine for girls back in the ‘90s. And they had this article on, “Let’s introduce you to Alt-Country.” It was an article on, like, Flat Duo Jets and Whiskeytown. Wilco. The Jayhawks. And I read about it and I went out and got a Jayhawks record. I was in a band with another girl where we sang harmony. It opened me up to a whole different kind of music that was kind of Punk Rock and Country.  So when I was down in Charlotte, that’s all that me and my good group of friends used to do—sit out on the porch and play songs. 

Birmingham Stages: I grew up listening to Punk Rock, too, and now I listen to a lot of what we call Americana. What is that connection? What is that attraction?

NA: I don’t know. I think it’s youthful rebellion and wanting to get some anger out. Punk Rock wants to express that through feelings, and Americana wants to express that through words. 

The stuff I listen to the most, though, are ‘60s Rock records. 

Birmingham Stages: So that’s what you were into when you were in Jersey?

NA: That’s what I’ve been into since I was 3.The first thing I ever remember seeing was The Who’s Tommy on HBO when I was three and just being floored. 

Birmingham Stages: How did you connect with Single Lock for this record?

NA: When I first moved to Nashville, I got an offer to play at the venue—116 E. Mobile St. I thought that was weird because I’ve been touring for ten years and I’ve never played there. 

So I went down and I played a gig there and the guy that was running the venue was just the nicest guy you’ve ever met. It was almost off-putting. I’m from Jersey; I’m like, “What the [expletive] is wrong with this guy? He’s so nice.”

The next time we played, they threw this party for us at Billy Reid with snacks and stuff. It was all just so nice. 

He was talking to me and he says, “John Paul [White] has a label here. He started it all himself at Thirty Tigers and he wanted it all to be even more independent. They have their own distribution.” And yada yada yada. And I was like, “Whoa.” I was on Thirty Tigers, too, and I’m a friend and a fan of John Paul, and I couldn’t believe that he was able to do all of that. So I gave them a copy of a record and asked if they could pass it on to them.

They ended up coming to Nashville and having dinner with me. We all got along with them really well. I’ve been in every kind of label situation; from majors to indies to self-release. This has been the most—it’s a unique and actually pleasurable experience in the music industry. And that’s kind of rare.

Birmingham Stages: I know record deals work much differently these days, but is that a relationship that you hope to continue as you begin looking toward another record?

NA: Yeah, for sure.

Birmingham Stages: How did you end up in Nashville? Was it just easier doing what you do from Nashville? A convenience thing?

NA: Well, I married a guy from Scotland who was actually my tour manager. I had to move out of Brooklyn because I just couldn’t afford it anymore. The entire neighborhood of Williamsburg—which we all moved to because it was so cheap—became…you had to be super rich to live there. So I was living back in New Jersey, and I love the Jersey Shore, but Ryan had moved over from Scotland and was adopting all of my old hometown friends. He started working with this band—J.D. McPherson as FOH and tour manager. We became really good friends with them and they were all moving to Nashville. 

So I was like, “Okay, we’re all in our mid-thirties and we’re all going to move to a new town and make new friends together. Let’s try that out.”

We have a yard now. I’ve never had a yard. I mean, my parents have a yard. I’ve lived in New York for most of my adult life, and I’ve always only had a tiny little apartment. My parents won’t come visit because my dad says we have snakes in our yard. 

Birmingham Stages: You’re closing in on 40 now. Any reflections on life at such a milestone?

NA: When I was younger, I thought, “Forty. Oh my God. People that are 40 are so old.”

In my first band, I was 25 and they were all 35. And I was like, “Jesus Christ. They’re ancient!” 

It’s weird; I think age is pretty relative now. I definitely feel healthier than I’ve ever felt. I feel more creative than I’ve ever felt. And I still look pretty young thanks to bulletproof Italian genes.

It’s a cliché, but I wish I was thinking and feeling like I do now back when I was 25. When you’re younger, you torture yourself so much with self-doubt and bad decisions. And you get older and you think back and wonder, “I can’t believe that I spent so much time worrying about something that matters so little to me now if at all.”

Birmingham Stages: Do you remember the last time you were in Birmingham?

NA: Oh God, yeah I do. The last time I was there was 2013 and we were playing at The Nick. I’ve had some crazy times at The Nick.

Birmingham Stages: I assume those were much less sober times.

NA: Oh hell no. Yeah…they were…the woman that runs it would give us whiskey after whiskey, and we’re all like, “Yeah!”

It was someone in the opening band’s birthday and we had a dance party after the show. This great band was opening for us called Arc Iris and we switched the letters around on the marquee to say Narc Virus. And I remember shouting at them, “Ya bunch of [expletive] narcs! Get out of here!”

Birmingham Stages: Did you headline that night or did Narc Virus?

NA: It was our show. Narc Virus opened for us [laughs].

Nicole Atkins comes to Saturn on Wednesday, April 18. Indianola and Daniel Elias + Exotic Dangers open. Doors are at 7 p.m and the show begins at 8 p.m. Advance tickets are $12 and can be purchased at www.saturnbirmingham.com.

Listening Station: New music from Trampled By Turtles

By Brent Thompson

 

Some things are worth the wait and Trampled By Turtles reminds us of that on Life Is Good On The Open Road [Banjodad Records/Thirty Tigers]. The Minnesota-based sextet’s first new album in four years, Open Road will drop on May 4. Longtime loyal fans – and they are many – will welcome the 12 new tracks that find the band melding Folk, Bluegrass, Country, Rock and even Punk into a unique style of its own.

After taking a lengthy hiatus, the TBT members reunited in a cabin in the Minnesota woods and discovered the chemistry among them still existed. Pre-release album tracks including “The Middle” and “Kelly’s Bar” find the band inspired and in top form. An extensive tour – beginning in the group’s home state – coincides with the Open Road release date and takes TBT on a coast-to-coast trek through September.

http://trampledbyturtles.com

 

Expect the Unexpected: A Conversation with Jukebox the Ghost’s Tommy Siegel

By Blake Ells

Jukebox the Ghost formed at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., but the piano-driven rock band has roots across the South. Pianist and vocalist Ben Thornewill grew up in Louisville, Ky., while vocalist and guitarist Tommy Siegel grew up in Richmond, Va. (drummer Jesse Kristin is from Boston). Now the band calls New York City home.

The band returns to Birmingham behind Off to the Races, its latest album released on March 30. Before the visit, Siegel talked about piano rock, the acts that came before them, the band’s writing process and the science of cover versions.

Birmingham Stages: Why aren’t there more rock and roll bands based around a piano?

Tommy Siegel: I’m not sure why there aren’t more piano rock bands. My gut is that it might have to do with the people drawn to a piano versus a guitar. We’re sort of lucky that we have someone in the band that’s a classical prodigy that also just enjoys playing rock music. But I think that’s a rare combination.

Birmingham Stages: Obviously Elton John forged that path, but I guess someone like Ben Folds did a lot to open that door for bands in the last 20 years?

TS: Every generation has that one big piano rock band. There’s Elton John then Billy Joel then Ben Folds then maybe Something Corporate or Jack’s Mannequin qualify for the next one and we are jockeying hard to be the next one after that.

Birmingham Stages: You’ve played on bills with a lot of those guys that you mentioned. Have you developed good relationships with those bands?

TS: A lot of those opening gigs are surprisingly the product of behind-the-scenes booking agents negotiating. I think a lot of it for them is, “What’s a good bill that’s going to bring people out—that fans of both bands are going to like each other?”

But from touring with some of those artists, we did end up becoming good friends. I think it helps for us to tour with other piano rock bands. It draws crowds that are sort of already excited to hear somebody play the piano. It makes for a great opening gig.

Birmingham Stages: Do you write individually or do you get in a room and write together?

TS: We do the Beatle-y method; where we all kind of bring songs to the table and as a band we kind of fine tune it. We’ve also gotten serious about self-recording and producing. A lot of the times we come to the table with a fairly complete song and then just do the fine tuning as a band.

Birmingham Stages: Years ago, you turned “It’s a Beautiful Life” into a lounge song. Have you since put your own spin on other songs? How do you choose the songs that you want to cover?

TS: It kind of depends song by song. These days, every year at Halloween, we do a short little tour called “Hallo-Queen” where we a set of our own stuff, take a break, get into costume and then do a full set of Queen dressed up as the band. For those, we don’t really reinvent the wheel; those songs are perfect as is. We do the best we can just to execute them.

But yeah, for some songs, we try to reimagine them for our band. We sometimes do Shania Twain’s “Man, I Feel Like a Woman,” and that requires some reinventing on our end.

Birmingham Stages: Have you taken “Hallo-Queen” on the road or is that just a New York City thing?

TS: We haven’t done a full tour of it because it’s exhausting to do more than a handful of shows. Last year, we did four of them, so we did San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Philly. We try to spice it up.

Birmingham Stages: You waited a little bit longer this time between records—what was that process and why did you take your time a little more with this one?

TS: It was a combination of factors that made it a long wait. One was that we were on a record label called Cherrytree which went defunct; it was part of Interscope. So we were making the record independently, which is just a little slower. If you’re on a label, the label just cuts a check to a producer and you just finish it in one big chunk.

But since we were self-financing our own record, it was a longer process; figuring out who the right [producer] would be and piecing it together from different sessions. It took a little longer on the songwriting end as well. We always come in with way too many songs; this time we had about 75 songs that we whittled down to the ten that are on the record.

I’m always amazed. Every time you make a record, you think it’s going to come out a year earlier than it actually does. This time was no exception.

Birmingham Stages: How much more difficult is it being heard now than it was ten years ago when you started recording? Or is it easier?

TS: We’re used to having the rug pulled out from under us every few years. When we were first starting out, it was all about MySpace. We were adding people, sending people tracks, all that stuff. We even booked some tours on MySpace. Then it was all about Facebook Groups and then those ended. Then it became Facebook Pages and Instagram and Twitter then streaming services came.

We’ve just grown to expect the unexpected and you have to adapt. That’s part of why we emphasize the live element and the touring element and putting on a good live show. Because that’s sort of the only thing you can count on these days. I think if you’re banking on making money on recorded music, you might want to rethink it.

Birmingham Stages: Touring is the one thing that’s never really changed, right?

Yeah, thankfully, people still like going to concerts and buying concert tickets. As the economics of music purchases have shifted toward the miniscule, people still like going to shows and they still like wearing t-shirts. That’s where we place our bets.

Jukebox the Ghost comes to Saturn on Saturday, April 14 with special guests The Greeting Committee. Doors open at 8 p.m. and the show begins at 9 p.m. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at www.saturnbirmingham.com

 

Street Corners, Subways and Songs: A Conversation with Charley Crockett

By Blake Ells

Charley Crockett just turned 34-years-old, but the country and blues singer has lived as many tales as his fellow Texan, 78-year-old Billy Joe Shaver. His new album Lonesome As A Shadow will be released on Friday, April 20, and there’s a good chance that it’s the one that takes Crockett, a descendent of Davey, all the way from his days of train-hopping to headlining his own tours.

He added a last minute, midnight show at The Nick for Thursday, April 12 as he passes through town to open for Turnpike Troubadours at Druid City Music Hall in Tuscaloosa on Friday. Before the stop, he talked about hitchhiking, train-hopping, recording in Memphis, how he’s related to Davey Crockett, how much he loves his home state and the difference between Country and the Blues.

Birmingham Stages: I thought it was happenstance, but as it turns out, you actually are related to Davey Crockett. How are you related?

Charley Crockett: It’s on my grandfather’s side, who’s still alive; he’s 94. He’s also named Charles Crockett. There are various ways we’re related up through Arkansas—up where the family was from—and they came down through Texas to the Granbury area. Elizabeth Patton was the wife that he had the most kids with; his first wife died young. Elizabeth is buried out in Granbury, Texas, which is not too far from where I was brought up.

Birmingham Stages: What part of Texas did you grow up in?

CC: Well, I moved around. I was from South Texas, originally; the same town as Freddy Fender; down around the Rio Grande Valley. My mom and I moved up to Dallas, and from there, I actually started living part of the time in Louisiana. That’s how I got into street playing. I did that for a bunch of years; lived all over the country just hoboing around, playing on street corners for a long time.

I got back to Texas and I put a band together on the Deep Ellum-Fort Worth Blues circuit, which is kind of crazy—we started playing out in Granbury a bunch at this beer joint called Revolver and I’d drive by Elizabeth Patton’s grave site every time we’d go out there and play. It’s like 50 miles away from Dallas or something like that—it used to trip me out.

Birmingham Stages: Why did you set out hoboing around when you were young?

CC: I think a lot of times people end up as musicians because it’s a profession of last resort sometimes. I was getting in a lot of trouble when I was younger. I felt like I didn’t have any direction to go; I didn’t feel driven to choose that angular paths that were being thrown in front of me and music was my answer to all of that. Once I started playing, I kind of dropped everything else and really started focusing on it.

To be honest with you, the way I started out playing in the street was I started playing in parks. I was just trying to find a place that I could get by myself—without people around—just looking for a place to play where I wouldn’t be bothering anybody and there wouldn’t be anybody bothering me. So I started playing in parks just because there was a place to go. People started coming up and throwing me a dollar or giving me change. That’s when I started taking it more serious and moving to better spots.

That’s all I’ve been doing ever since I started playing is moving to better spots.

Birmingham Stages: So when you began playing parks—that was around New Orleans?

CC: Yeah, it was around New Orleans. It was kind of wherever I was traveling around. I did it around New Orleans, Dallas, Austin; then I started getting into hitchhiking on the highways and that’s a really big thing among street musicians—especially around New Orleans. I learned how to get myself around by playing with other musicians in New Orleans who were already traveling. Trying to go to New York, we’d get dropped off—a combination of hitchhiking and train-hopping and you’d get to Asheville—play in Asheville, North Carolina on the street for a while and get a little more money—head up to New York from there. It’d be this kind of highway going back and forth.
If you play above ground in the parks in New York City—if you play on the street corner in the East Village—the cops run you off real quick. It’s illegal to do that because of the noise stuff with residents. So I naturally went down to the subway, because even though it was also illegal down there without a permit, you could get away with it as long as you weren’t amplified. So I would do that, and then I started playing on the train because these poets that were rapping on the train would see me on the subway platform and try to get me to come on the train with them. I didn’t know what they were talking about and I got nervous playing with them.

One day I got cornered and I wound up playing in the subway trains all day. And I made, like, five times more money than I made standing on a subway platform. So I kept doing that.

Birmingham Stages: Do you have any horror stories from your time hitchhiking?

CC: I mean, maybe not horror stories. It can be really scary; it’s lawless, you know? You think that wild west code is gone in modern times, but I can tell you, when you’re train-hopping and you’re hitchhiking, it’s not because everything you’re doing is illegal. It’s mostly down-and-out type folks. So if somebody wants to rob you or if somebody is not psychologically well that’s out there hitchhiking or hopping on trains, it can be really dangerous. I’ve dealt with stuff like that, but not as bad as it would seem. It’s more about getting hurt jumping on or off a train or getting in a car with some crazy person.

I’ve seen some crazy stuff; I’ve seen people get stabbed on the subway cars of New York, stuff like that. People used to use us inadvertently as a diversion; when we’d be singing on the trains, everybody would be looking at us, so sometimes we’d catch someone getting in a lady’s purse when she wasn’t looking because we were in there singing. I’ve seen that kind of stuff a lot.

Birmingham Stages: How did you graduate from playing subway cars to bars?

CC: Well, like I said, I was always just moving to better spots. I put a little more money in my pocket, had a good crew; we were promoting ourselves a little better, driving people to a page online.

I ended up signing a record contract; got discovered by some people in Manhattan on the R-Train. That was kind of my first time getting off the street level at all; playing on stages in New York City for a while. That kind of fell apart and when it fell apart, I didn’t want to go in the direction that they wanted to take us. It was going from the streets to doing this Pop thing that I wasn’t ready for or didn’t want to do.

I didn’t want to go back to the streets. I had been squatting in warehouses for years and I didn’t want to keep doing that. I got out of the city; I was living out in the country on a buddy’s farm that I knew, recording my own stuff and going to blues jams. That was really my transition into learning to play on a stage—going to blues jams in New York City, in New Orleans, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, San Francisco—I’d be traveling around. That’s when I learned how to lead a band. You get thrown off stage one night because you [expletive] up the band’s money, you learn real quick if you want to ever go back in there.

Birmingham Stages: Where is home now?

CC: Austin. I live in Austin, Texas.

Birmingham Stages: Do you think Texas is your path or do you think you’ll ever give that up to move to Nashville and do the Nashville thing?

CC: [laughs] That’s funny. Well…where do you live?

Birmingham Stages: I live in Birmingham. I was in Austin last year; love that place a lot.

CC: Oh, man, I love Birmingham. I love that town.

I’ll answer your question, it’s just funny to me. I do my business in Nashville. That’s the funny thing. I can’t avoid Nashville because everybody’s there—the label, the agent, the publicist. And I remember being on the street in New York and I saw this mass exodus from New York City down to Nashville—this must have been in, like 2010. I knew it was going to blow up.

But I’ll stick with Willie Nelson. He always said the Grand Ole Opry’s call letters, WSM, stood for “Wrong Side of the Misssissippi.” [laughs]

I joke. I love that town, too. But I came up in New Orleans, man. The only towns I know that have that soul of New Orleans—which is the thing that I need—besides New Orleans, is Memphis and Austin. Texas has been my bread and butter. Down here in Austin, I can go hear Cajun and Creole music all the time—get that New Orleans sound. I can hear Texas Swing. I can hear Tejano. Soul. Funk. Blues like a [expletive]. That’s why I live here. I’d rather live in the country than anything, but if I’m going to be in a big city, I’d rather be in Austin right now. I’ve got a lot of love for Dallas/Fort Worth, because I played the [expletive] out of those bars for a couple of years, and when it was hard to get gigs anywhere else. If it’s hadn’t been for playing in Deep Ellum and DFW as heavy as I did, I don’t think I would have ever gotten on with the people I’m on with now.

It’s a Texas/Louisiana story. It’s playing in Dallas and Austin and New Orleans. I’m proud of that regional heritage.

Birmingham Stages: When I was there, I was able to hang out at the Continental Club quite a bit. And I know that’s probably just a small taste, but it’s a cool town. I wish I could get out there more often.

CC: Hell yeah, man. You know everybody’s complaining about how blown out Austin is, and Nashville’s the same thing. It’s like Justin Townes Earle—I remember he said a few years back—somebody asked him what kind of advice he’d give a young musician moving to Nashville trying to make it. And his advice was, “Don’t move to Nashville. Move to some smaller town.”

And I agree with that. I love living in Austin, but I don’t know if they would have paid attention to me in Nashville. In Dallas/Fort Worth—even though that’s a big area, it’s a small music scene. Like Tulsa—Tulsa has this really small, tight knit music scene. You can get known in the music community like that a lot faster. Birmingham is that kind of city—there’s a really small, supportive music community—that I’ve seen at least, when I pass through. I think you’d be better off to play around Birmingham and get people to recognize you than you would playing around Nashville.

Birmingham Stages: Definitely. I think you may have actually played some shows with our own St. Paul and the Broken Bones. Did y’all play around a little bit?

CC: Yeah, man. I’ve done a couple of shows with them. I think they sold out—they sold like 2,300 tickets at a venue in Dallas we played. It was wild.

Birmingham Stages: You mentioned Memphis, and I know you recorded this new record there at Sam Phillips’s studio. What led you there?

CC: Well…I guess because I didn’t want to record in Nashville. [laughs]

I really liked Margo Price’s first record, Midwest Farmer’s Daughter, and I really liked the way it was recorded, the way it sounded. I saw that Matt Ross-Spang had worked on it, and I knew that he was working out of Memphis and he had been at Sun a long time. So we hit him up—I never expected to hear back from him or nothing. He hit me back and was like, “Yeah, come see me over at Sam Phillips Recording Service.”

He was like, “Do you know where that is?”

And I’m like, “Yeah, yeah.”

And he’s like, “Are you sure?”

And I’m like, “Yeah, I know where that is.”

So I go over to Sun Records and call him up and tell him I’m here, and he’s like, “Nah. You’re not here. You’ve got to come down the street to Sam Phillips. I knew Sun Records, but I never knew Sam Phillips. So I went down there, realizing I didn’t even know it existed. I hit it off with Matt; I like the old school feel of the studio over there. I like the family; Sam Phillips’s son, Jerry Phillips and them—they run it—a family type joint.

I just liked Matt. He had a really cool, laid back vibe. I played him a bunch of songs that were in my head and he was like, “Well, I can record any one of those.” So we did that. I got some help paying for it and came back in there a couple of months later, and we cut the record in four days. And I’m real proud of it, man, because I’ve got this real thick, Texas and Louisiana sound, where I mixed together a lot of the influences that I had playing on the street—various blues places and whatever. It brought a lot of Memphis soul—this Memphis, gritty soul—to my Texas and Louisiana style, which I’m real proud of; I’m real proud of that bluesy, soulful stuff.

Birmingham Stages: You’re often identified as a Blues artist, but you’ve also recorded a collection of Country covers that range from Hank Williams to Roy Acuff. What’s the difference between Country and the Blues?

CC: I don’t know, man. Lightnin’ Hopkins said, “Country wasn’t nothing but white man’s Blues.” You talk about Lightnin’ Hopkins or Lazy Lester—those were some country boys. To me, it’s the same thing—people just call it different things. I knew I could do that old-time Country stuff real good because I loved that music, I learned it in the street and I wanted to record something and I hoped that young people could identify with it, since I’m a younger man living in my time. Maybe I could help bridge the gap; get young people to look back at this music. Whether that’s classic Country or classic Country Blues—all that type of stuff—I don’t think we can outdo that music and I want young people to hear that music.

Birmingham Stages: That old-time sound—where did you pick up on it? Did it come from your mom?

CC: In a lot of ways, yeah. She was listening to Billie Holiday when I was a kid. It wasn’t like I was singing along and learning Billie Holiday songs when I was five or anything like that, but she instilled a confidence in me; we sang together when I was young. I never questioned whether or not I could sing, because we’d do it together when I was a kid.

To be honest with you, I learned Hank Williams songs from other musicians in New Orleans. There was this dude that I would see traveling the country from time to time, and one night, we both ended up on Royal Street on New Orleans at the same time. He was playing this song, and I learned it off of him. A couple of days later, I was like, “Hey, what’s the name of this song?” And he says, “Oh, it’s called ‘My Bucket’s Got a Hole in It.’ Hank Williams did it.”

And I was like, oh [expletive], this is Hank Williams. That’s the way I heard Lightnin’ Hopkins. Someone was playing it at a Blues jam. It was like, “I Once Was a Gambler.” Swinging it real slow and heavy Blues. I was like, “Man, did you write that song? I love that song you’re playing tonight, man.”

And he was like, “Man, I didn’t write that song. It’s Lightnin’ Hopkins.” So I started looking into him. That’s how I got into it.

Birmingham Stages: The last time you were here, I think you were opening a solo set for BJ Barham.

CC: Yeah, at Saturn. With Charlie Mills, a trumpet player. That’s a cool venue.

Man, I used to hang out at The Nick when I’d be passing through town, down there under the highway bridge or whatever it is right there. I love that place, man. I didn’t even know I was playing there until a few days ago because it got added. I used to be hoboing around, and I’d come in there and watch people play a late night show and I’d think, “How do I get on this stage?”

Birmingham Stages: It’s great. I know you’re heading to Tuscaloosa the next night, so I guess they added this one on.

CC: Yeah, we’ve been doing a lot of that. A lot of times, those types of gigs—the gigs we hit on the way to places—they’re the most fun for us. We did that in Tupelo—we added one on last midnight because it was en route and we were playing in the middle of the day. They’re blasting Gary Clark, Jr., who used to play in there—it was an amazing show. The Nick’s got that same kind of vibe. I went in there, not thinking anything of it from the outside, and man, there were just some popping bands in this joint. It was ridiculous.

I care more about playing in a good room with a good vibe than the amount of people there. Sometimes, it throws you off playing in too big of a room, you know?

Charley Crockett plays a special late-night show at The Nick on Thursday, April 12 at midnight. Admission is $6. For more information, visit www.thenickrocks.com.

The Writer’s Share returns to WorkPlay

By Brent Thompson

It’s like bringing The Bluebird Cafe to Birmingham! On Thursday, April 12, The Writer’s Share series returns to WorkPlay. Jenn Bostic, Sarah Darling and Michael Logen will present a night of songs and stories in an intimate, listening-room setting. Advance tickets to the 8 p.m. show are $15 and can be purchased at www.workplay.com.

It’s All Timeless: A Conversation with Luther Dickinson

By Brent Thompson

L-R: Luther and Cody Dickinson (Photo by Tom Bejgrowicz)

Luther and Cody Dickinson didn’t just grow up in a musical household, they grew up in the musical household. The sons of famed producer/singer/pianist Jim Dickinson (1941-2009), the Dickinson brothers have created their own legacy since forming North Mississippi Allstars more than 20 years ago. Using the gritty Blues sound of its namesake state as its basis, the band has continually expanded its musical horizons while staying true to its foundations. In 2017, the group released Prayer for Peace [SMG Records], a 12-track collection featuring guest appearances by Oteil Burbridge, Graeme Lesh and Dominic Davis among others. On Friday, April 13, North Mississippi Allstars will perform at Avondale Brewing Co. Recently, Luther Dickinson spoke with us by phone as he traveled from Nashville to Memphis.

Birmingham Stages: Luther, thanks for your time. We are enjoying Prayer for Peace. If you will, talk about the evolution of the album’s material.

Luther Dickinson: I wrote “Prayer for Peace” three years ago, so it’s an older song. I woke up one morning thinking about Buddy Guy and he’s the last man standing – he’s the living king of the Blues. You think about his generation and everything he’s seen and that leads me to Mavis Staples, the queen, and the whole American experience; the Gospel, Country Blues, civil rights – the whole thing. I wrote that song thinking about their perspective. “Need To Be Free” – I wrote that in reaction to a lot of Southern legislation that was going down that I didn’t really agree with and there was a lot of police violence. That’s what I was thinking about back then. It’s all timeless – the never-ending struggle and treating others in a way that you would want them to treat you.

Birmingham Stages: When you write a song, how do you know if it’s a better fit for a solo record or an Allstars record?

LD: That’s a good question, man. The Allstars is a collaborative effort – what we do best is what we do together. If either of Cody’s or my agendas get too overbearing, the band gets skewed. We do our best work when we do our thing and it’s coming together. It’s funny – my first solo record of original songs was Rock ‘n Roll Blues, a real personal song cycle about growing up as a young musician. I recorded the songs with Cody as an Allstars record, but both Cody and our management said, “Nah, that’s a solo record – it’s not an Allstars record.” At first it made me mad, but they were right and it was so liberating. If you put everything in its proper place, then nothing gets watered-down.

Birmingham Stages: With your various musical projects – the Allstars, The Word and Southern Soul Assembly among them – you don’t have much open space on your calendar.

LD: Yeah, and when I am free I’m with my family so it’s either family or music and there’s not much in between. But we can’t afford not to. We’re a working-class family  – we work to support our lifestyle and we appreciate the fans who make it possible. On the other hand, if you’re granted a life of music, you owe it to music to keep it alive and spread it. They asked Bob Dylan why he tours constantly and he said, “I made my deal and I’ve got to hold up my end of it.”

Birmingham Stages: You worked with Tommy Stinson’s band Bash & Pop on their latest album, Anything Could Happen. I know you’re dad worked with Tommy when he was in The Replacements. What was it like to work with him?

LD: My relationship is one of the many relationships of my father’s that we have maintained, be it Tommy Stinson, Chuck Prophet, Mojo Nixon or Ry Cooder – the list goes on and on. So many of dad’s friends have taken us under their wings and it’s a wonderful extension of all of our love for what he was. But playing with Tommy – that’s hard man! I’m used to rising to the occasion. We make records with Jim Lauderdale and I listen to those records and think, “Man, that’s some fancy guitar playing,” but it was natural and easy for me. But in playing with Tommy, I haven’t played Power Pop/Punk since I was a teenager or in my early 20s. It’s not easy for me – it was a real challenge. There’s something about that melancholy Minneapolis melodic territory, be it Prince, [Paul] Westerberg or The Hold Steady. There’s a tension that comes from that place and Tommy really embodies it, he really keeps it alive. I love his songwriting and he’s the real deal. He never even had a choice because [Stinson’s brother and Replacements bandmate] Bob made him play. It’s amazing – he’s such a badass.

Birmingham Stages: Few people grow up around a parent as musically open-minded as your dad. Is there a way to sum up the experience of being a young music lover in that household?

LD: I remember one day he pointed to his record collection and said, “This is a wealth of knowledge” and I still go back to that well. I loved my dad and his music and his friends, but when I found [California Punk band] Black Flag, I asked my dad to help me learn how to play “Six Pack” and he got so mad. He said, “This makes no g–d— sense” because it was anything goes. He said, “I cannot believe you found something I can’t relate to.” It was great.

Emporium Presents: North Mississippi Allstars at Avondale Brewing Co. on Friday, April 13, Tickets to the 6 p.m. show are $20 and can be purchased at www.avondalebrewing.com.

The Bond of the Blues: A Conversation with Scott Sharrard

By Blake Ells

At 30-years-old, Scott Sharrard was playing guitar for Gregg Allman, whom he had idolized growing up. It’s quite a leap when your heroes become your peers, but Sharrard and Allman formed a deep bond over their love of blues music. As their relationship grew late in Gregg’s life, the two wrote together and became close friends. Scott is on his own now, and he recorded much of his new record, Saving Grace, in the same Northwest Alabama room that Gregg spent time much of his career in. Before visiting Birmingham, Scott talked about his FAME sessions, his love of Southern barbecue, co-writing with Gregg and his love of the Magic City.

Birmingham Stages: What first inspired you to pick up a guitar?

Scott Sharrard: That’s an easy answer. My dad was a guitar player and singer, and he had a bunch of acoustic guitars lying around the house. He used to have jam sessions in the living room, and one day when I was about 10, I decided to join in. The first thing I ever learned was the Jimmy Reed shuffle rhythm on “Baby What You Want Me to Do.” I still think that’s the best thing I ever learned to play on the guitar. From there, I went into Chuck Berry and Bob Dylan and the classic Otis Redding stuff my dad was playing around the house. I just got hooked. I guess it was kind of preordained that I was going to pick up the guitar, but I ended up becoming obsessed with it.

Birmingham Stages: Did he ever formally teach you or did you just kind of pick it up yourself?

SS: No, my dad’s an ear player. He’s a blues/rock guy in terms of training, although he plays a lot of folk and bluegrass, too. And he plays all acoustic. He never played any electric around the house. He knew the names of the chords, but he didn’t show me scales or anything like that. I learned all of that on my own.

Birmingham Stages: And this was when you were living in Michigan? Wisconsin?

SS: Well, I’ve got quite a bit of traveling under my belt. I was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan and I was raised in Dearborn, near Detroit, and then I had what I call my “lost period.” There were three or four years where we were in different parts of Pennsylvania; we were in Colorado for a second. So I was 10—we had just moved to Pennsylvania when I had started playing. And in that brief three-year period when we were in PA, that’s when I first saw the Allman Brothers. I put my first band together and I really got serious.
Then we ended up in Milwaukee. I moved to Milwaukee when I was about 15. And I went to high school in Milwaukee.

Birmingham Stages: What was it like playing with the band that kind of made you want to this for a living?

SS: The Allman Brothers were the “Big Bang” moment for me. That’s what started it all. And when I put my first band together, they were the template when I was 13-years-old. And that remains.

Birmingham Stages: You picked up and left the Midwest immediately after high school for New York. Did you feel like you had to do that to be able to make it?

SS: I had really gotten to the top of what was the local blues scene in Milwaukee. I had my own apartment. I had my own car. At the age of 18, I was living like an adult: paying bills, playing gigs four or five nights a week in blues bars all over; playing with guys that were 20 years older than me. It was really an incubator. I definitely had a lot of success there. My friend Sean Dixon and I had a band—he was a high school classmate, a couple of years older than me—and we decided, the two of us, to make a go for New York. We found a rent-controlled apartment and that basically sealed the deal. We said, “Okay, we’re going to move to the East Village, rent-controlled apartment…” I think this was ’97 or ’98. And we just went for it.
To be honest with you, I wanted to move to New Orleans. I had another friend who was going to Loyola and I visited a couple of times as a teenager. I was obsessed with moving there. But just like most things—I always say that most things in New York begin with finding cheap real estate. Once you’ve cracked that code, you just have to follow it at that point. It’s non-negotiable.

Birmingham Stages: Is New York still home today?

SS: It is, and I’m still living that ridiculous gambit of cracking the code. My wife and I bought a place in Harlem about six years ago; we got a ridiculous deal on it. New York City is an intense hustle, man.

Birmingham Stages: It’s certainly fun to visit when you’re from the South, but I don’t know if I can crack that code.

SS: That should be its motto. It’s certainly fun to visit; but I wouldn’t say much else about it.

Birmingham Stages: How did you first meet Gregg [Allman] and how were you invited into the band?

SS: I had been playing guitar with my friend Jay Collins in his band and we were having a heck of a time. It was a lot of fun playing in his group. The whole time I was playing with him, he was saying, “You should be the guitar player in Gregg’s band. The guy we have isn’t working out.” It ended up taking me a couple of years of playing and hanging with Jay to finally get a chance to audition, and that was at an Allman Brothers show in Camden, New Jersey.
Basically Jay—who played saxophone for the Gregg Allman Band—called me up and said, “Come meet me. We’re going to go to Jersey. I’m going to have you sit in with The Allman Brothers.” This was August of 2008. I was about 30-years-old. I’ve played with a lot of legends; when I was a kid, I got to play with Hubert Sumlin and Buddy Miles. In my time in New York, I got to work with Levon Helm through Jay, also. I’d been around a lot of bad, legendary cats, but I was not prepared to meet all of The Allman Brothers guys at once and then go sit in with Gregg and have it all be about me getting the job. It was a lot of pressure.
I went straight to Gregg’s dressing room, I met him and we bonded right away on the blues, basically. The second question out of his mouth was if I knew who Wayne Bennett was—the guitar player from Bobby Bland—and luckily, being raised on the Midwest blues scene, Wayne Bennett was one of the guys. You had to learn all his licks from Bobby Bland records if you wanted to play with the singers I used to play with. So I immediately knew what he was talking about and when I went and sat in, we played a blues tune together—I think it was “You Don’t Love Me”—and I immediately started quoting Wayne Bennett on stage and stuff, and he just got a kick out of that.
We just really hit it off, man. I think he could tell that I was really serious about the craft of making rock and roll that’s based in the blues and soul music and jazz and all of the tributaries of American music that we loved. And that was a bond that deepened and deepened. It was always based on the music—our bond—and it was pretty deep. He recorded a lot in Muscle Shoals, including some of the final record.

Birmingham Stages: Did you spend some time in Muscle Shoals with him?

SS: In 2016, I made two records there. I made Gregg Allman’s Southern Blood first, and I then I came back in December of that year and made half of my new solo album, Saving Grace. We did about six tracks there, and when I was there doing my record, we used Spooner Oldham and David Hood from the Swampers—the legendary rhythm section that played on everything: Staple Singers – “I’ll Take You There,” Wilson Pickett – “Midnight Hour.” And they’re still playing great, man. Unbelievable.
And then we got Chad Gamble to come play drums from Jason Isbell’s band, who’s a wonderful musician and I’d always wanted to work with him. We also got Duane Allman’s ’57 [Les Paul] Goldtop that he used on the first two Allman Brothers records and on the “Layla” record and on a lot of session work—we had that brought from the Big House Museum in Macon to Muscle Shoals, and I actually used that guitar on, like, five tracks on the record as well. I was told that my record was the first time that guitar had been used on recording sessions in Muscle Shoals.

Birmingham Stages: What’s still bringing people back to Muscle Shoals in 2018? Is it the people? Is it the seclusion?

The white sauce barbecue [laughs]. The Hall family. It’s a tradition. I’ve spent a lot of time down South throughout my life—particularly the decade I spent with Gregg—and obviously, going around the South with Gregg is like going around Italy with the Pope. It’s a whole other level of seeing the South.
It was an incredible honor to get to play with this man and know him, but it was also an incredible honor to get to know all of the musicians, all of the people, the friends and fans of his, that are in the Southern region and understand on a deeper level.
All of the music that comes from America—every last scrap of it—comes from the South. Gregg hated the term “Southern Rock.” He’d say, “There is no such thing as ‘Southern Rock’ – All rock is Southern.” And when you’re talking about some place like Muscle Shoals, you’ve got the Hall family—you’ve got Rodney Hall driving the ship now, but when I made Gregg’s record there and my record there, Rick was still around—his father. It’s a family business and it’s a tradition; the music, the music making, the recording style. You will not get that anywhere else in the world. That’s the beauty of going down South. My two favorite things to do are to eat and to play music. And there’s nowhere better in America that you’re going to find for those two things.
I’m in heaven every time I’m down there working in general. You add that beautiful room they have at FAME where so many of these legendary records that changed all of our lives were created—the vibe is very heavy in that room. And the white sauce barbecue. It’s killer.

Birmingham Stages: What was your favorite? Did you try Whitt’s? Big Bob Gibson’s? What did you hit up?

SS: All of them. There were three or four places. Plus, there was a meat-and-three next door [Garden Gate Café] that we used to go to every day for lunch.

Birmingham Stages: You co-wrote the lead single on Gregg’s final record, “My Only True Friend,” and you took an interesting approach to it. Can you tell me about that songwriting process?

SS: It was a three year process, almost, finishing writing the song and recording the song took about three years.
I was at Gregg’s house writing and I had a dream where Duane was speaking to Gregg. And that’s basically the first line of the song, “You and I both know the road’s my only true friend.” I ran out of bed at the crack of dawn, grabbed a guitar, wrote down the words and chords; it was a complete blind inspiration out of nowhere. And when Gregg woke up, I showed it to him—I was staying at his house while we were doing this writing session—and he loved it right away.
We had already finished writing one other song together, but then this one became the priority. Fast forward a year later, I went to his hotel room and they were doing the last run of shows—or maybe it was the second to last run of shows—at the Beacon. I went to Gregg’s hotel and he disclosed his terminal illness to me, which was a really intense moment for us, because I think it was the first time that I crossed into his inner circle. It was me and a handful of people that knew he was terminally ill and that he wanted to go out performing and recording. It was entrusted to me to not share that.
We were writing that day and that’s when he scratched out the pre-chorus, “I hope you’re haunted by the music of my soul when I’m gone.” That was the second crucible.
The third and final crucible was—we were in Muscle Shoals at FAME Studios cutting Southern Blood in, I guess, the early spring of 2016. We had been rehearsing the song and rehearsing the song, but Gregg kept saying, “It’s not done. It’s not done. But I need to get this on the record.” So we’re early in the week of recording and I’m realizing that I don’t see the song on the docket of songs to record. Finally, I went to Gregg and I said, “Dude, we’re in Muscle Shoals at FAME. We have a few days left with Don Was. We need to record this song.” And he was like, “Man, it’s missing something.”
Mark Quinones—a 25-year ABB member and good friend of mine and a good friend of Gregg’s—always had a lot of brilliant ideas for the band. He came to me and he was like, “Man you should write a third verse for this song.”
So I went back to my hotel that night and I wrote that third verse. I brought it in the next day, Gregg read it and he said, “Okay, let’s cut it.” That’s the vocal that’s on the record—right after I handed him the third verse. We got it just in. Then we went on the road a bunch, then he lost the ability to sing and then he passed away. It was right down to the wire, getting that done.

Birmingham Stages: What’s the wildest night that you had with or without Gregg in Birmingham, Alabama?

SS: [laughs] You know, there are better band members to ask that question to than me [laughs]. Food and music, man. I’m happily married.
But look, Birmingham is an incredible town, man. It gets better and better every year that I’ve gone back. People love music in that town that come to the shows. That crowd—we played—Gregg and I used to talk about it, we’d look at the tour book, “Aw, man! I can’t wait to get to Birmingham and play for those people because they’re maniacs!” It’s a great feeling to play there and to feel the love and the attention to the music—people really care about the music on a deeper level in that town.
What do I do there? White sauce barbecue. Homewood, Alabama! Saw’s barbecue is the business. That’s my spot! I got all the merch, got the hat and the shirt. We had Art Edmaiston playing sax in [Gregg Allman Band], and he could tell you about his nights out in Birmingham, I think [laughs]. Art is in Memphis, and Art introduced me to Chad [Fisher], the bone player for St. Paul & the Broken Bones, and Chad took us to Saw’s the last time I went a few years back. My God, man, I’ve already got that on my tour schedule. It’s already booked. When I had the tour booked, I told them we were going to Saw’s.

Birmingham Stages: What does the current touring band look like that you’ll bring to Birmingham?

SS: It’s lean and mean. We’ve got Brett Bass on the bass from Lubbock, Texas. He’s also a New York City transplant like me. Brett was actually playing bass in the Gregg Allman Band at the end. He came in on our last couple of tours; I actually had gotten him in the band. Gregg really loved him; he was the missing link to the Gregg Allman Band that we never had.
Our drummer is Eric Kalb, that you may remember from Deep Banana Blackout. They were a really popular jam band in the ‘90s and early 2000s that he was a founding member of; he also played drums for Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings. And he also played drums for Eric Krasno’s solo band. And it’s just the three of us. It’s a power trio this time.

Scott Sharrard comes to The Nick on Saturday, April 7. Birmingham’s own Heath Green and the Makeshifters open. Doors open at 9 p.m., and the show begins at 10 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door – advance tickets can be purchased at www.thenickrocks.com.