Archives for posts with tag: Alabama

Birmingham’s \\GT// on new album and the importance of closed-up Bottletree

Photo Courtesy - \\GT// and Communicating Vessels

Photo Courtesy – \\GT// and Communicating Vessels

Birmingham, Alabama’s \\GT// is part of a Birmingham well rounded scene tradition that has produced everything from rockers Carnival Season, Brother Cane to a burgeoning Indie scene that began almost ten years ago that included everything from Hard Rocking Universal Joint and beitthemeans to more singer/songwriter oriented material from Jesse Payne and Kendra Sutton.

In fact, the scene has been diversified enough to include various hip hop acts and Punk Reggae Scenesters with a sophisticated College political mindset, The Agency.

Out of all these factions have come nationally known College Radio Americana in the form of Wild Sweet Orange and The Great Book of John. The other angle that has taken off is related to a re-look at Muscle Shoals and the Fame Studio years with St. Paul & The Broken Bones and the unpeggable Alabama Shakes.

Birmingham has managed to develop one of the best regional Indie Music Festivals in the Country with Secret Stages while local label Communicating Vessels is growing and nationwide.

\\GT// developed out of this eclectic scene when two co-workers, Scotty Lee, Byron Sonnier at now defunct venue The Bottletree got together to jam on a modern twist of Alabama gothic tale hard edge grooves. Working with established area drummer Mark Beasley, the Power Trio brings out the loud Birmingham underground belly of the Magic City.

Their newest release, Beats Misplaced, currently only available in Europe on Rough Trade will be released later this year on Communicating Vessels. In the meantime, \\GT// plan to hit every club they can along the eastern half of the United States as well as the Midwest.

The Nashville Bridge caught up with the band a few days prior to their show in Nashville at The Stone Fox on August 15th.

Brad Hardisty / The Nashville Bridge: Scotty, you have some great label support [Communicating Vessels] and some gigs coming up.

Scotty Lee – \\GT//: Yeah we do. Let’s see, we have another small run coming up from the 15th to the 23rd so far. We are doing, obviously, The Stone Fox. We have been going through St. Louis and Lexington and starting to do that Midwest kind of thing.

TNB: How was Secret Stages [Birmingham Indie Music Festival] this year?

Scotty: Secret Stages was great! We got in the second day. We were on the road but it was really awesome and everybody that came to the festival was saying great things about it all weekend. So, yeah it was really good.

TNB: I could tell you one thing. I think what you’re doing would work in Nashville now. I wouldn’t have said the same thing seven years ago. Things have really changed.

Scotty: Yeah.

TNB: Are you guys in tune with what is going on in Music City?

Scotty: They might be more than me. The only thing that I know is like my buddies The Banditos is the only Nashville connection that I have.

TNB: Nashville is becoming more diversified with Jack White, The Black Keys and locals that grew up here like Jeff The Brotherhood.

Scotty: Oh yeah. Jeff The Brotherhood. I forgot about them. I forgot they are from Nashville.

TNB: Did you record the new full length album in Birmingham?

gt-beatsmisplaced-cover-1000-570x570Scotty: The full length we’ve got now we recorded over here at CommVess [Communicating Vessels] in their studio. We worked with Lynn Bridges and Taylor Hollingsworth [Conor Oberst, The Spider Eaters, The Puffs, Dead Fingers, Pawn & Gun] and we had a lot of friends play on it and stuff as far as background vocals and all that kind of stuff.

TNB: So, Taylor played on it a little bit?

Scotty: Yeah, he played a couple of lead parts, did some background vocals and he produced a little bit of it as well.

TNB: What’s the scene like in Birmingham nowadays? Is it still centered around The Nick? I know that The Bottletree shut down, right?

Scotty: Yeah, The Bottletree is gone. Saturn opened up and Birmingham is always going to be like it has been. All the fans that are out now are really awesome. I have a lot of friends that are still doing their thing which is great.

TNB: Are you bringing any bands with you to The Stone Fox or are you guys playing with some local bands?

Scotty: Yeah, we’re just playing with people that are from there, I guess. We are not bringing anybody with us on these runs.

TNB: What is the current goal for \\GT//?

Scotty: I just want to tour and give people a chance to hear us. That’s all I want to do.

TNB: A while back there was a demand for stuff over in Europe from Alabama [Drive-By Truckers]. I know that Taylor Hollingsworth has been over to England. Do you see any interest overseas?

Scotty: Well, our album was released over in Germany and the UK with Rough Trade so we will find out.

TNB: When will the album be out on Communicating Vessels stateside?

Scotty: It’s being released here in about September or October. Not really sure. There is no certain date right now.

TNB: Hey Byron.

Byron Sonnier – \\GT// : Hello.

TNB: How did you end up working with Scotty? Were you with him in a different band or is this kind of a new thing for you?

Byron: We were actually in a different band that was kind of a psychedelic stoner rock band. I played guitar and sang. Scotty played lead guitar. It didn’t last very long but, yeah, so we played together before.

TNB: Did \\GT//come out of a jam or did Scotty bring something to the table and say, “Hey let’s try this out?”

Byron: We both worked at Bottletree at the same time. Scotty was getting this band together and asked me if I wanted to play. I had never played bass before but I was like I’ll try and it just kind of went from there.

TNB: How long did you guys work for Bottletree?

Byron: Scotty had worked there on and off since the beginning, I worked there for a little over five years.

TNB: I moved out of Birmingham in 2008 and moved to Nashville. I used to play a lot at The Nick. I didn’t play The Bottletree but I saw some great shows [Dead Confederate, Taylor Hollingsworth, The Donnas] back then.

Byron: It was awesome! I mean The Bottletree is responsible for everything that’s happened here, I think definitely in regards to the music scene. I mean it [music scene] was there before but I think that national attention came out of that one way or another.

TNB: I was going to say that Communicating Vessels kind of came together before The Bottletree shut down, right?

Byron: Oh, yeah, well before that, for sure.

TNB: Some of the early label bands like The Great Book of John, I guess, were established playing out of The Bottletree?

GT-logo-hi-res-600-380x380Byron: Right! Alabama Shakes played open mic night only they were just called The Shakes then. St. Paul [& The Broken Bones], I mean all those bands played through here several times.

TNB: Is there something like The Bottletree now? One thing I remember is that they had had some great stuff like hummus and vegetarian food.

Byron: Now? No, I mean there is the new Saturn. It’s booked by BOWERY. It’s definitely got its own kind of thing going. It’s different. It’s more of a concert venue then a club. So, there really is not anything close to that right now. It’s definitely a void.

TNB: I thought it was a cool thing because like you could go there and eat healthy if you didn’t feel like drinking or anything you know.

Byron: Right.

Mark Beasley – \\GT//: Hey Brad it’s Mark.

TNB: Hey Mark how are you doin’? I remember seeing you play with a lot of people before I moved from Birmingham in 2008. You were playing with Kendra last thing I remember. I used to play in a band myself.

Mark: Which band were you in?

TNB: I played with Danny Everitt [Bass], the sound guy over at The Nick and Daniel Long [The Agency, Furthermore, Jesse Payne etc.]was the drummer. He has been playing with…

Mark: Jesse Payne, yeah.

TNB: Daniel has been playing with a lot of people. Our lead singer name was Peter Davenport. We were called various names over a few years and the last year we went by Furthermore. I used to see you to play with a lot of people. I remember running into you a lot of times.

Mark: Yeah, I’ve played drums in quite a few bands here and there. Some of them short lived and some of them longer.

TNB: Are you gigging full time or are you working as well?

Mark: I think all of us have jobs. There was a time I was playing in three or four bands at the same time but now those bands have kind of folded up and become inactive and now it’s just been playing with \\GT// and going on tour which is taking up most of my time at least in terms of my time playing music.

TNB: I was going to say it’s probably a good band to be in because you’ve got solid label support. They are doing stuff for you and you’ve got some decent videos out as well as a great Alabama regional vibe t your groove.

Mark: I think some of the success from the Alabama bands, at least, is kind of what you would expect Alabama to sound like. There are other bands like us and Dirty Lungs on this label that don’t necessarily, you know, we really are just a rock band with some weird perverted blues licks thrown in there. It’s not typical of what you would think of it being Southern music.

TNB: I think it fits with fans of Alabama music that know about the past ten years and bands such as The Immortal Lee County Killers, Cordova, Model Citizen or Beitthemeans, .

Mark: We played a show with those guys [Beitthemeans] in Mobile [Alabama].

TNB: It’s kind of cool to see that at first Communicating Vessels was more concentrating on almost like new Americana and now they are branching out and tapping into some other scenes. Is that how you feel?

\\GT// - photo_John Purvis

\\GT// – photo_John Purvis

Mark: I think that is just a good business model if you talk about a record label. I know Epitaph had its success having a bunch of the same kind of bands on their label but really to be successful you have to have artists of all different types to diversify your sound. So, Communicating Vessels certainly has a couple of hip hop acts. They have what you would traditionally think of as Americana acts as well as straight ahead Rock and Roll bands too.

TNB: Good luck with the new project! I’ll let you guys go.

  • Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN
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debbie bond that thing called loveDebbie Bond’s third release, Blues Root Production’s That Thing Called Love, takes a bold step not only stylistically, but, recognizes the hot band, The Tru Dats  led by multi- instrumentalist bandleader and partner in crime and love, Rick Asherson as a full reckoning burning house of sound.

Debbie Bond and The Tru-Dats into a groove udring taping at Mando Blues, Nashville, TN, photo - Brad Hardisty

Debbie Bond and The Tru-Dats into a groove udring taping at Mando Blues, Nashville, TN, photo – Brad Hardisty

Recorded originally as a live recording at Omegalab Studios in the hills outside of Nashville for Radio Free Nashville’s Mando Blues Show after capping off an exhaustive Nashville weekend where Debbie Bond & The Tru Dats were featured at The Nashville Blues and Jazz Awards Show, the recording turned out to be magic with Debbie Bond & The Tru Dats in top form with a pristine live recording vibe that featured a few never recorded songs that were on par with Austin City Limits or England’s BBC In Studio productions.

Debbie Bond at Mando Blues Live, Nashville, TN, photo - Brad Hardisty

Debbie Bond at Mando Blues Live, Nashville, TN, photo – Brad Hardisty

Under the guiding hand of Rick Asherson with engineering, mix and mastering by Rob McClain this first official release from the Mando Blues Show kicks off with a tribute to The Holmes Brothers on Tracks one, “You’re The Kind Of Trouble” and three “Feed My Soul” which helps to define that there really are no boundaries within the definition of where the Tru Dats and the blues can go with it rootsy funky, swampy, Curtis Mayfield meets Stax Gospel vibe and compelling vocals by Debbie Bond.

 

Dave Crenshaw with Debbie Bond at Mando Blues, Nashville, TN, photo - Brad Hardisty

Dave Crenshaw with Debbie Bond at Mando Blues, Nashville, TN, photo – Brad Hardisty

Dave Crenshaw has enough space in between each drum hit to keep the groove swinging that wants to make you move, but Dave really shows his full spectrum on “Steady Rolling Man.” This is one of Debbie’s most adventurous tracks yet. Hard to believe that there are only four people playing when this could be a Preservation Hall Jazz track out of New Orlean’s French quarter with enough air to feel humidity drenched Creole food rolling out to the tables.

Debbie Bond transforms into a Ragtime Chanteuse, with interplay between Rick’s speakeasy piano, Dave Crenshaw’s straight up 1920’s style drums and Tom Pallardy’s ability to play sax like a trombonist or Pete Fountain without hesitation makes this unbelievable.

Rick Asherson and Debbie Bond meet up LLoveless Cafe prior to taping, Nashville, TN, photo - Brad Hardisty

Rick Asherson and Debbie Bond meet up LLoveless Cafe prior to taping, Nashville, TN, photo – Brad Hardisty

I like It Like That” most closely resembles Debbie and Rick’s days with Willie King, ‘The Sweet Potato Man’ who just passed away in 2008 with its call and response lines between Debbie and Rick sounding very much ‘Sweet Potato Man.’ Rick’s piano updates the Alabama soul groove with a sixties Aretha Franklin in Brooklyn strut then at 2:37 right after Debbie says, “maybe we can get the audience to clap their hands” he starts jamming bass and Musselwhite harp at the same time. There ought to be an award for this because when you see this live it is going to blow your mind.

The Alabama Sunday afternoon “Still Missing You” showcases Debbie’s Alabama blues style vocals that bring to mind the Muscle Shoals era and the heart of Alabama soul, Eddie Hinton.  Debbie’s mellow Telecaster lines are some of the best on the album and kind of spread around like butter drizzling over a stack of hotcakes.

Debbie Bond and Tom Pallardy at Mando Blues taping, Nashville, TN, photo - Brad Hardisty

Debbie Bond and Tom Pallardy at Mando Blues taping, Nashville, TN, photo – Brad Hardisty

Tarragona Blues” comes in two versions, one that goes right into a bossa nova blues soul groove with reference to both Spain and Alabama with”a long way to go” and the other with a big afro centric introduction that takes a different route, paying tribute to the fans in Spain who have welcomed Debbie with open arms and a place that she cannot wait to return to.  The Tru Dats changed up on this track with Ray Robinson on drums, Jonathan Blakney on background vocals and side percussion and Dave Crenshaw taking over on Latin percussion.

 

Rick Asherson checking the back line at Mando Blues taping, Nashville, TN, photo - Brad Hardisty

Rick Asherson checking the back line at Mando Blues taping, Nashville, TN, photo – Brad Hardisty

Rick pulls off a serious Charlie Mingus bass intro on “Falling” against Debbie’s difficult melody drop-in to set up “Move a little closer baby, I have a message for you” while, “That Thing Called Love” finds Rick doing the impossible by being Mingus yet again with one hand and Isaac Hayes with the other as Tom Pallardy slides in on sax in another corner of the room. Debbie enters in reverb drenched Tele that sets up a smoky groove and a preacher’s daughter throwing down thunder and lightning vocals.

Debbie Bond and The Tru-Dats, it's a wrap at Mando Blues, Nashville, TN, photo - Brad Hardisty

Debbie Bond and The Tru-Dats, it’s a wrap at Mando Blues, Nashville, TN, photo – Brad Hardisty

That Thing Called Love really has no boundaries within Southern Music whether it be Blues, Soul, Funk, Ragtime or Swamp Pop; Debbie had a good reason to change to Debbie Bond & The Tru Dats because of the serious musicianship that has been gathered for this recording. Every corner of the blues and every musician has a chance to shine on this exquisite live recording that everybody will want to take home to listen after a great show. –

Debbie Bond and Rick Asherson in Nashville, photo - Brad Hardisty

Debbie Bond and Rick Asherson in Nashville, photo – Brad Hardisty

Brad Hardisty, Nashville, Tn     thenashvillebridgeathotmaildotcom

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 027 smallDebbie Bond was the guest last Monday night on WRFN Radio Free Nashville’s Mando Blues Show recorded in a huge army tent at Omega Studio high on the top of a peak at an undisclosed location in the nearby Nashville wilderness.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 030 smalldebbie bond mando blues 04082013 028 smallA fantastic crew with Tony Gerber , known for his electronic music compositions, acting as host for the night, went to work on soundcheck with Debbie and her band featuring Rick Asherson on keyboards and Dave Crenshaw on drums getting a much bigger than it looks sound going into the green spec recording layout.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 014 smallOmega has developed a layout for power using not much more than six car batteries, car stereo amplifiers and LED lighting to run at a deceptively low 1600 watts with state of the art recording as can be seen by linking to the net recordings of the summit.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 023 smallDebbie brought much more than just blues experience playing with Willie King and Johnny Shines for almost thirty years in Alabama displaying soulful grooves with a nod to Muscle Shoals, Alabama writers like Eddie Hinton, Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham. In this case, the western Alabama juke joint grooves may be at the heart, but, this was soulful blues.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 020 smallDebbie brought three new songs that will be featured on her next album, “Find A Way,” That Thing Called Love” and “Steady Rolling Man,” that fit right in with “I like It Like That” from her days with Willie King as well as some songs from her most current release Hearts Are Wild with a stand-out version of the slow ballad blues of “Falling.”

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 037 smallNashville session saxophonist Tom Pallardy sat in later in the set after a successful collaborative prior night set at The Nashville Jazz and Blues Awards at Bourbon Street in Printers Alley.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 035 smallHost Tony Gerber paid tribute to female blues artists with his in-between tracks that also featured some rare Richie Havens and alternative version material.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 010 smallMando Blues is an esoteric record store workers dream where true collectors and music geeks get to hear all things blues and related materials. They all get a little spotlight. There may be no show quite like this in the world.

An invited group of about 10-12 people got to sit-in on the live recording happening that fit a BBC type production with high production values and plenty of meat in the interview.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 013 smallTony asked the right questions that will give any listener the feeling they knew where Debbie came from and what she is about after listening to the two hour show.

Although there are provided links to watch video of each one of the songs, it is well worth the price of free admission to listen to the entire show to get the interview segments as well as Rick’s “Monty Python meets Muscle Shoals” sense of humor.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 007 smallDebbie is a native of California, but, her time growing up was spent in England and Europe while Rick’s roots are Londontown. Debbie and Rick almost crossed paths in College back in England, but, never actually met until Alabama Bluesman, Willie “Sweet Potato Man” King suggested they get to know one another in Western Alabama.

Roy Wooten aka “Futureman” stopped by to listen in and dug the Alabama soul groove coming out of the eventual four piece band with Rick sometimes playing the utility guy playing bass with one hand on the Nord keyboard and blues harp with the other hand and singing back – up vocals. If he had one more arm, they probably could have a full horn section.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 029 smallTom Pallardy’s sax fit right into the song as if he had been playing with Debbie for years but, in reality he had not heard much of the material. Dave Crenshaw brought down the volume on the drum kit to match the production set up without losing any of the grooves, in fact, it brought out the true dynamics of the songs.

Debbie was so happy with the production and final mix of the material that she has already talked about further recording collaboration with the Omega team.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 039 smallIt can be said, that there is probably know recording studio like it in the world, with its MASH style tent set up and being at the mountain peak as well as a crew with ears straight out of a JBL lab anechoic chamber. They know what they are doing and they love what they are producing.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 016 smallWhile production was going on, some of the staff was busy cooking a meal fit for a king in a wood burning cast iron stove in cast iron pots.  The band and crew were treated to Venison Stew, fresh picked greens and chicken after the final wrap.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 008 small–          Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

all photos (c) Brad Hardisty