Sounds Like: The harmony-heavy, guitar-fueled house band at a Big Pink keg party in 1968
For Fans of: Grateful Dead's American Beauty, Little Feat's Dixie Chicken, Dawes' North Hills
Why You Should Pay Attention: Already cult favorites in Nashville, Cordovas have built honorary home bases across the globe, thanks to recurring shows in Todos Santos, Mexico – where ringleader Joe Firstman runs the yearly Tropic of Cancer Concert Series – and a touring schedule that recently including headlining gigs in Sweden and a stateside run alongside the Turnpike Troubadours. The band's sound, though, is decidedly American. Caught halfway between Duane Allman's Telecaster twang, the Dead's hazy harmonies and the stoned swoon of California's folk-rock heyday, Cordovas wring new life from older influences, hoisting their freak flag high on their upcoming album, That Santa Fe Channel.
They Say: "We did everything live," Firstman says of That Santa Fe Channel, which was produced by the Milk Carton Kids' Kenneth Pattengale. "Even the harmonies were recorded together, with all three of us singing. We probably did 15 takes of the first song, 'This Town's a Drag.' Kenneth wanted it to sound as real and authentic as possible, and when I listen back, it gets better and better every time."
Hear for Yourself: "I'm the One Who Needs You Tonight" is rich with harmonies and Grateful Dead inspiration. R.C.
“The self-titled release is a project long in the works of Oxford-based singer Morgan Pennington and producer / multi-instrumentalist Winn McElroy that hits by delivers a shimmering and dramatic blend of pop unlike anything else in the state.”
- Jacob Threadgill, The Clarion Ledger
“And the Echo’s ethereal synth-pop sound radiates throughout this album, creating songs both dreamy and electric… Lyrics laced with heartbreak come together with catchy, synthesized beats to create the songs that have been drawing in crowds since And the Echo began performing locally in 2014… This has been a big year for the local band and it appears to be getting bigger by the second.”
- Shelby Pack, The Daily Mississippian
“Their sound owes much to synth pop from the 80’s, without sounding anachronistic. Behind the synthetic exterior is the familiar satisfying heart and soul of catchy, quality pop song writing.”
And The Echo’s dark, ambient style has been likened to Depeche Mode but with a smooth and emotive female vocal. The more light-hearted songs like Okinawa and Smoke and Mirrors are influenced by synth-heavy 80s bands like Duran Duran. Based out of Oxford, Mississippi, And The Echo is a project born of a mutual love of ambient, electronic pop between Winn McElroy and Morgan Pennington.
Zoogma is a live electronic band based in Nashville, TN. Since 2010, Zoogma has been blending genres into a musical experience that has been called "refreshingly original, yet steeped in dance music tradition".
The band is no stranger to the studio or touring either. With two full studio albums, a live compilation album, a slew of remixes, and the most recent release of their chart topping New Era EP, as well as a handful of national headline tours under their belt, Zoogma has carved out an incredibly loyal fanbase. The band's next record, A Future in Blue, is due out early 2017.
Wrong Way Sublime Tribute Band salutes Sublime, one of the most original groups to come out of the 1990’s. Wrong Way captures the Sublime sound with a perfect blend of Sublime’s different musical styles ranging from reggae and dance hall beats to punk and hip hop.
Wrong Way is a fitting tribute to Sublime, who’s music is still as fresh and original today as it was in the 90’s.
Working with Crane over the past year has been exciting. His ability to go at the creation of songs with an open creative mind makes it beneficial in our writing sessions. He has a great work ethic, from booking his own shows and the fact that he supports himself through music puts him a step ahead of the rest. I am looking forward to working more in depth on his project and the
I’ve had the pleasure of working with Crane in the studio – some of the most pleasurable sessions I’ve ever had. He’s incredibly professional, talented, and works hard, what more can you ask for in an artist?
Anthony is a blues baked singer/songwriter born and bred from that red Georgia clay. He has a smokey, whiskey-soaked voice that will reach down the back of your throat and grab your fucking spine. He has an onstage presence that will make you believe he should have been in Midnight Of the Garden of Good and Evil. All by himself-Anthony Crane is a good time…
Best described as crossover music, Crane has a sound that is all his own. Musical influences range across the board, but most prevalent in his current writing would be Soul, Reggae, R&B, and Pop. Hypothetically, you might find him on tour with Ben Harper, G Love, The Dirty Heads, Citizen Cope, or Allen Stone.
With an average of 250 performances per year, including 5,000-attendee festivals, cruise ships, dive bars, and wing joints, Crane’s motivation in 2016 has been a business-minded focus on “not keeping the band a secret anymore.”
Since the release of the “I Love Women” EP in September of 2014, Crane has toured non-stop. In the midst of a rigorous live performance regime, he’s managed to find himself with a new management team, new content, new material, and writing with even more Grammy Award winners and International-touring artists. We look forward to releasing all of the new music that has been developed since the “I Love Women” EP.
The Workshy, is an eclectic six-piece funk group based out of the Denver area, that provides an incredibly energetic live show by pulling influences from jazz, blues, funk and more to create an infectious blend of music. With members from L.A, Washington, New York, Iowa, and South Korea; The Workshy is able to create a sound that is unique as their roots. The Workshy’s constantly evolving sound is stronger than ever allowing them to open for such acts as Jazz is Dead, Euforquestra, Great American Taxi, The Word, Fruition, Radio Moscow, and Juno What?! Playing such festivals as Wakarusa, Camp Euphoria, The Bella Festival Series, and 80/35, The Workshy is captivating crowds and building a strong following around the national music scene. As Mary Buck of the Des Moines Music Coalition put it “Don’t be surprised if you find yourself smiling unwittingly. It just sounds fun.’Didn’’t these guys open for Jimi in’70?’ Nope. ‘Nah, they were on Festival Express with Janis and The Band.’ Wrong again. It’s The Workshy”.
Few bands arouse a crowd into a collective shake like Flow Tribe. The six-member band’s onstage chemistry reflects a seamless combination of soul and movement that hits the audience within the first few notes. Virgin listeners and avid fans alike are drawn in by the distinctive sound that feels both familiar and original. Outfitted for each performance in colorful, carefully selected suits, it’s clear their focus is sharp and the party has begun. This is the work of professional musicians who’ve found their passion, and are living a dream where everyone’s welcome.
Second line brass and Cuban-Caribbean rhythms meld with R&B, soul, rock, and hip-hop beats in high-energy performances that turn every show into a celebration. New Orleans is influence itself, the unparalleled free and easy city weaving its way into track after track of original scores that make up a single definition of sound, which Flow Tribe has dubbed “backbone-cracking music.”
K.C. O’Rorke (vocals, trumpet), John-Michael Early (harmonica, washboard, vocals, keyboard), Russell Olschner (drums), Chad Penot (bass, vocals), Bryan Santos (guitar, timbales), and Mario Palmisano (guitar) are native New Orleanians and high school pals who’ve been writing music and playing live shows since the band’s inception in 2004. Post graduation, they went their separate ways, but after Katrina, each returned to their hometown, inherently becoming active members in the rebuilding of a community that’s stronger than ever. Flow Tribe may well be the city’s next music ambassadors.
With two full-length albums and several EPs under their belt, the crew is currently building Downman Sounds, a studio in New Orleans East where they expect to cut their next record. The Tribe can be found crisscrossing the US just about every week of the year, from Key West to California, including regular performances at the notable New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Fest and Voodoo Fest. Look for their next project to be released in early ‘17, a full length album produced by New Orleans’s own Mannie Fresh.
New Orleans-born quintet, Stoop Kids, has created a psychedelic conglomeration of genres that both honors and reinvents the classic sounds of hip-hop, doo wop, jazz, and surf-rock. The five-piece band is fronted by Griffin Dean, whose many hats include lead vocalist, guitarist, songwriter, and rapper. Rounding out the rest of the band are Thomas Eisenhood on baritone saxophone and harmonies, Sam
Fruend on bass and harmonies, David Paternostro on guitar and keys, and Joe Tontillo on drums.
With over 300 shows booked from Texas to the Atlantic over the past five years, Stoop Kids’ impressive touring résumé includes supporting slots for Galactic, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Naughty Professor, and Stop Light Observations, as well as performances at Bayou Boogaloo and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Atwood Magazine praises their “comedically barbaric live performances,” which are unpredictable and theatrical to say the least. Their music is generational; they incorporate timeless sensibilities with accessibly catchy melodies and have developed what Pigeons & Planes describes as “a love letter to both doo wop and classic hip-hop.” Since the band’s inception, they have independently released two full-length albums and their most recent mixtape of genre-bending singles.
"Every song was masterful, from the soulful “Only Love” to the political get down “Truth”. This was among the best funk and soul shows I’ve ever seen."
- show review, On Stage (Chicago, IL)
"Anchored in the jazz and funk of New Orleans, The Nth Power’s heady gospel tones and inspirational messages create a well-grounded album which promotes understanding through music. This, my friends, is what love sounds like."
-"Live To Be Free" album review NYS Music (Syracuse, NY)
"The Nth Power is a multi-genre playing, soul-preaching, funk machine that has exploded onto our beloved jamband scene with their truly unique combination of pure musical skill, a deep love/connection with their personal spiritualities, and a fan-base that is only getting more ravenous with each new release."
-"Live To Be Free" review Music Marauders (Denver, CO)
Proving that soul music can be exponentially greater than the sum of its parts, The Nth Power is on a mission to share the light. Formed during an impromptu late-night jam at Jazz Fest 2012 in New Orleans, the relentlessly funky and soulful band believes in music as a higher power – tapping into an energy that is simultaneously sexy and spiritual, with songs that will inspire audiences to dance, groove, make love or just stand there with goose bumps.
The quartet hails from diverse musical backgrounds, races and creeds. Female powerhouse Nikki Glaspie was Beyonce’s world-touring drummer for five years before she joined Ivan Neville’s New Orleans outfit, Dumpstaphunk. Bassist Nate Edgar of Groovechild and John Brown’s Body perfectly compliments Singer and Guitarist Nick Cassarino who came from the Jennifer Hartswick Band and toured with Big Daddy Kane. Finally rounding off the ensemble is the newest and youngest member, Courtney J’Mell Smith who brings his soulful vocals and keyboard abilities to the table.
“It’s my dream team,” says Glaspie. “Each one of us is a songwriter, so when we get together, everything becomes much stronger.” Beyond raw skill, however, Glapsie cites a deep spiritual connection as the glue that binds them together. “Music is what brought us together, but it’s the spiritual bond that makes us play so in touch with each other.”
At the core of their vibe is a deviously simple concept – the healing power of Love.
Multi-Grammy Award winning artists Robert Sput Searight and Nate Werth take percussion out of the shadows and into the spotlight with their new project, Ghost-Note. World renown for their ongoing catalog with international sensation Snarky Puppy, this dynamic duo expands their rhythmical voice into a celebration of music in all its forms. This is music that takes listeners on a mind-blowing journey, inspired by the influences of James Brown, J Dilla, and the Beastie Boys, all the way to folkloric West African, Afro-Cuban, and Brazilian samba grooves.
Ghost-Note’s impressive rotating roster of heavy hitters combine their decades of experience to create a night of unforgettable musical madness. Band members include Sylvester Onyejiaka (Prince, Quantic) on flute, tenor, and baritone sax, Jonathan Mones (Funky Knuckles, RC and the Gritz) on flute, alto, and tenor saxophone, A.J. Brown (Fred Hammond) on bass, internet star Dywane “MonoNeon” Thomas (Prince) on bass and guitar, Justin Stanton (Snarky Puppy) on keyboards, Daniel Jones (Jay-Z, Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake) on keyboards, Nick Werth (Galaxe, Yak Attack) on xylosynth, Mike Jelani Brooks (Kirk Franklin, RC & the Gritz) on tenor saxophone, and Alvin Ford Jr. (Pretty Lights, Dumpstaphunk) on drums.
Ghost-Note’s first record, Fortified, which debuted at #1 on the ITunes Jazz charts in 2015, not only showcases Searight and Werth’s unique duo approach to rhythm, but it also highlights a phenomenal community of Dallas musicians. Fortified includes features by Shaun Martin, N'Dambi, Mark Lettieri, Caleb McCampbell, Jason “JT” Thomas, RSVP, and Nick Werth, and guest appearances by Cleon Edwards, Taron Lockett, Marcelo Woloski, Wes Stephenson, Bob Lanzetti, A.J. Brown, and Sylvester Onyejiaka. In addition to touring across the United States, the band is also working on their second album to be released in fall 2017.
Ghost-Note is an instrumental explosion like you’ve never heard before — prepare yourselves for a neck breaking and booty shaking night that will keep you on your feet all night long.
(Members of SNARKY PUPPY)
Dywane Thomas, Jr. also known as MonoNeon, is an American bassist and experimental musician. He is known for his presence on YouTube playing bass guitar and known for being one of the last people to work with Prince. Thomas also played with Grammy Award-winning R&B artist, Ne-Yo, on his fourth studio album. He is a native of Memphis, Tennessee.
While Thomas is right-handed, he plays left-handed upside down on a right-handed bass guitar, which allows him to use heavy string bending on the upper strings. Thomas' slapping style/technique is unique because he is executing everything upside-down, but he still uses the thumb for slaps and fingers for pops. He also uses fingers and palm muting to create a warm, muffled timbre and have a little more control over the length of notes. In a free/improvisational setting, listeners may hear the use of Indian melodic inflections/embellishments in his playing, including the use of gamakas. Another attribute in Thomas' playing style is the use of randomness and personal mistakes in performance, eventually moving the mistakes from meaningless to meaningful. Thomas' overall playing style on bass can be described as "funky with unusual characteristics". Even musicians like Marcus Miller have noticed his playing style. His musical background is heavily influenced by southern soul, blues and funk. In a Bass Player magazine interview, Miller mentioned Thomas as one of several "young bad cats" he has met on the scene.
In 2009, Thomas was featured on the GospelChops Bass Sessionz Vol.1 project with Andrew Gouche, Hadrien Feraud, Damian Erskine, Janek Gwizdala, Anthony Nembhard, and Robert "Bubby" Lewis. In 2010, Thomas released several solo albums, including Aleatorick and Indeterminacy. Also in 2010, Thomas played bass on the Libra Scale album by Grammy Award-winning artist Ne-Yo, and the album Directions by Forest Won with Georgia Anne Muldrow. In 2012, Thomas joined David Fiuczynski and Planet Microjam. Also in 2012, he released his solo avant-garde album, Down-to-Earth Art as MonoNeon. In early 2013, Thomas released an album called Southern Visionary under the pseudonym MonoNeon. He also released an album entitled Uncle Curtis Answered The Lobster Telephone. MonoNeon performed with Sheri Jones-Moffett (2010 Grammy nominee) at the Recording Academy Chapter 40th Anniversary Celebration at Levitt Shell. MonoNeon teamed up with producer Kriswontwo to release an EP called WEON. July 2014, MonoNeon made his debut performance as the bassist for Screaming Headless Torsos at Jalisco Jazz Festival in Mexico.
In 2015 MonoNeon began playing bass with Prince and his protégé, Judith Hill. Some of the live shows have been at Paisley Park. On 11 January 2016, Tidal released the track Ruff Enuff by MonoNeon, only four and a half days after its initial recording. The instrumental track features Prince as producer and on keyboards. The following day, the track was replaced with a vocal version with lead vocals on vocoder by Adrian Crutchfield.
The linernotes provided with the track state:
"You may recognize Kirk A Johnson on drums, MonoNeon on bass and Adrian Crutchfield on sax and electric woodwinds as the house band 4 Prince’s Paisley Park After Dark Jam Sessions. Well, that’s not all they do. 4 the past week they’ve been cutting basic trax 4 their as yet untitled debut album. With Prince producing and handling the keyboard & guitar duties, the set promises 2 b picking up right where Judith Hill’s BACK IN TIME left off. These brothas murder the funk! Normally they wouldn’t let a track out until it’s finished, but this one had 2 go! It was ruining everybody’s good loox. If U think U can resist the funk, check out the key change of Mono’s bass solo at near 4 o'clockmark."
Space Jesus is the feeling you get when you travel through a wormhole in a fresh pair of Jordans. Currently residing in Boulder, CO, Jasha Tull was born in New Jersey and raised on hip hop. With his alarm set to NYC’s Hot 97 throughout elementary school, Jasha started making beats at a young age, and created Space Jesus as a vessel to express his personal experiences through music. With a focus on alien basslines, gangster beats, and future feels, the Spaceman imprints his signature sound onto each genre he graces. After building a reputation for his dynamic live performances, and with appearances at Tomorrowworld, Shambhala, Mysteryland, and beyond under his belt, Space Jesus continues to explore the auditory universe in search of lower frequencies.
Ron is an incredibly well respected musician around the world, having been Dizzy Gillespie’s saxophonist for several years, a member of The Warren Haynes Band, The Susan Tedeschi Band, and a part of tours with The Allman Brothers Band, Gov’t Mule and more. He has played many times with both Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks between Susan's band, The Allman Brothers Band, and Tedeschi Trucks Band.
Ron is currently a member of The Warren Haynes Band and now leads his own band. The Ron Holloway Band is a 7-piece saxy, funk machine out of Washington DC. Combining sax driven jams along with soaring female vocals, intensely emotive guitar, and hard hitting grooves to deliver a full on funk, rocking show. Pulling from influences such as Sly & the Family Stone, Parliament Funkadelic, and other funk masters, RHB provides a blend of rock, funk, soul, and r&b grooves to hit you with a high-energy sound and presence. A relatively young band, this group has quickly made waves on the festival scene, having the pleasure of being joined on stage by greats such as Warren Haynes, Jack Pearson, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, as well as members of Gov’t Mule and Tedeschi Trucks Band.
CBDB is a progressive rock/jam band formed in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, whose stock is rising fast. Fresh off the release of their third album, entitled “The FAME EP”, they are seeing a pattern of snowballing momentum with large, energetic crowds hungry for their unique brand of progressive jam-rock, dubbed Joyfunk. CBDB blends soulful vocals and virtuosic instrumentation with smart, tasteful songwriting resulting in a sound that can be enjoyed by the casual listener and audiophile alike. On stage, they parade tight, ambitious compositions that seamlessly gives way to loose, adventurous improvisation and have quickly become a must-see act.
Based out of Norman, Oklahoma, MONTU is an electronic jam band that blends a multitude of influences into an unforgettable live experience full of high energy and good times. MONTU has taken their signature sound across the country, from New York to L.A., to festivals, clubs and bars making impressions and leaving good vibes in their wake. Consisting entirely of organic playing with no prerecording or sequencing, the skill and freedom in the music brings elements of funk, jazz, rock, and R&B all mixed together into a seamless whirlwind of sound and lights that won't leave you standing still.
Toured with/Opened for: Umphrey's McGee, The Disco Biscuits, Lotus, EOTO, Papadosio, Girl Talk, The Floozies, and many more.
Collaboration of Veteran Musicians Bring Decades of Experience to New Band Hitting the Road in Summer 2017
Todd Nance – Drums, Vocals
Sam Holt – Guitar, Vocals
Daniel Hutchens - Vocals, Guitar
John Neff – Pedal Steel
Jerry Joseph - Vocals, Guitar
Jon Mills - Bass
The Interstellar Boys are first and foremost borne from a collection of friendships. Musical friendships that date back as far as 30 years. Todd Nance, Daniel Hutchens, Jerry Joseph, Sam Holt, John Neff and Jon Mills have shared stages and songs over the years and now form a new band that draws on those decades of collaboration. Todd Nance brings undeniable experience and depth to the band as a founding member/drummer/songwriter of Widespread Panic. Daniel Hutchens has been a driving force with the band Bloodkin for 29 years (and counting) and is widely recognized as one of the South’s great modern day songwriters. Jerry Joseph and his various bands have been recording and touring on a national/international scale since the 80’s. Jerry’s expertise as a musician/songwriter is as unquestionable as his passion for sharing the power of music. He has recently toured and taught music in such far-flung places as Afghanistan, Ghana and Iraq. Sam Holt brings a reverence and intensity to playing the guitar that energizes the faithful fans of this community in a way that is second to none. John Neff (formerly of Drive-By Truckers) is the secret weapon that adds depth and soul via the pedal steel. And Mr. Jon Mills (professor emeritus of bass in the Athens, GA music scene) is the glue that keeps the whole thing tastefully held together.
Fans and industry veterans alike will find this band a compelling draw for its maiden voyage this summer season as evidenced by comments from Raleigh, NC based talent buyer Chris Malarkey (Lincoln Theatre): “When I was first approached about the possibility of bringing this lineup to town I thought ‘man, this is too good to be true’. The thought of some of the most talented musicians to ever to walk through the doors of my venues joining forces not just for a show, but for a new band, seemed farfetched at best. But, somehow, someway the stars aligned, schedules were cleared and plans were made. The Interstellar Boys are real. What I can only describe as a dream band is booked.”
This accomplished group of musicians and songwriters look to explore new terrain touring together this summer….and have their eyes on the horizon to create new material, get into the studio and keep pushing boundaries as they have always done.
Complimentary musicianship and a unique sound brought four individuals together as the self-described Southern Psychedelic quartet, Tesheva. Drawing influence from funk, rock, blues, and progressive instrumental music, the local favorites create a one-of-a-kind atmosphere which lends itself to groovy vibes and spacey jams while not skimping on the rock-n-roll.
Originally a trio, Vaughan Brenner on drums, Matt Dunaway on bass, and Caleb Hutson on guitar laid the foundation for the band and it's sound. With the induction of Michael McCoy in the spring of 2015, the four piece group began to identify and refine their brand of music dubbed "Southerndelic."
Tesheva has seen success in Mississippi and Alabama after releasing their EP, and playing with local and regional acts.
Motel Radio is an indie rock band hailing from New Orleans, Louisiana. The band was born out of a songwriting collaboration between college roommates, Ian Wellman and Winston Triolo, that has since grown into a full band consisting of Eric Lloyd (drums), Andrew Pancamo (bass), and David Hart (keys) .
Early writing and recording culminated in the summer of 2015 with the band’s independently released EP “Days and Nights”. The EP earned them supporting slots for national acts such as Drive-By Truckers and Kurt Vile in addition to festival performances at Firefly, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, and SXSW among others. The band was named “Best Emerging Artist” at the 2016 Big Easy Awards in their home town of New Orleans.
Motel Radio’s atmospheric, harmony-driven sound and unique dual frontman arrangement garnered the attention of Roll Call Records, who released their EP ‘Desert Surf Films’ in September 2016.
Shake it like a caveman is a one man band. Formed in Tennessee in 2005. Shake it like a caveman simultaneously plays slide guitar, harmonica, kick drum, kick snare, hi hat, and vocals. This is dance party music with heavy influence drawn from Memphis, TN and the Mississippi hill country sound. The artist has released multiple independent recordings in the USA and has released 2 recordings in
Europe on the French Rock n’ Roll Label-Beast Records. Shake it like a caveman currently performs worldwide at festivals, club dates, radio and TV.
Shake it like a caveman is no stranger to the highway. He’s a one man band dance party, thrusting somewhere between poolside film scores and early American work songs. Sonic and Visual dynamite that makes you move that thang.
“Electric neo-blues & amped-up disco porn grooves”
- The Philadelphia Examiner
“Shake it like a Caveman makes music that rocks like only a 10-piece outfit can. The thing is, Shake It Like A Caveman is a one-man-band.”
- KUT Radio
“Exuberant and gritty garage-stomp. Instantly, this music spoke to me....”
- Nashville Scene
“Shake it like a caveman’s electric convulsive twist provide a hearty tonic for lingering spiritual deficits.”
- Indy Week
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
“Authentic broken down no messing proper sounding old school blues that is good for your soul.”
Andrew Duhon is a songwriter from New Orleans, a teller of stories with an undeniable voice, weighted and soulful. Duhon has released 3 recordings, the latest of which, ‘The Moorings’, was nominated for a Grammy in 2014 for ‘Best Engineered Album’. He has toured solo for much of his career, and that troubadour element is certainly present, an usher of modern day folklore.
His latest group, The Andrew Duhon Trio brings a new musicality to the tunes with upright bassist, Myles Weeks and drummer ,Maxwell Zemanovic. Since recording ‘The Moorings’ together as their first project, the Trio has been crossing the American landscape, touring and creating together, the thoughtful colors of the trio breathing a new musicality and direction into Duhon’s songwriting traditions.
It’s not just artistic anesthetization either, but rather a galvanizing force that inspires us to keep pushing through life’s trials and tribulations. That’s why we still listen to Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Rush, and countless others all these years later. It’s the same reason audiences will be talking about Backup Planet’s second full-length album, Reactions, for a long time to come. The Nashville, TN quartet—Ben Cooper [keys, vocals], Chris Potocik [drums, vocals], Gavin Donati [guitar, vocals], and Blake Gallant [bass, vocals]—write arena-size anthems echoing with progressive intricacy, funk swagger, and even a little metallic edge. Giving listeners an inspiring and invigorating aural haven, their moniker couldn’t be more apropos…
“I worked at a liquor store all through college,” remembers Ben. “I was sitting there one night in a funk because of school work and a fight with my girl at the time. Every channel on TV decried, ‘The end of the world is nigh!’ I thought, ‘Man, I wish I had a Backup Planet where I could go and escape.’ It dawned on me. That’s what naturally happens when you play music; you’re transported somewhere else. It’s a shared experience where everybody goes together.”
The name perfectly fit the tunes Ben and his college buddy Gavin wrote starting in 2013. Rounded out by Chris and Blake, Backup Planet became a local favorite around the University of Tennessee Knoxville. They independently released their full-length debut, Element, during 2015 and began sharing the stage with the likes of The Revivalists, Papadosio, and more in addition to headlining countless packed shows. Relix proclaimed them “On The Verge,” and one fateful gig led to signing with powerhouse management firm Red Light Management [Dave Matthews Band, My Morning Jacket, Dopapod, Phish,].
However, tragedy struck Backup Planet only weeks after this big milestone.
“I had a weird sense of premonition,” admits Ben. “We had just left a show, and within 30 seconds, our van was flipped over on the interstate sliding. There were sparks, glass, and metal flying everywhere and people screaming. Fortunately, we were all alive, but we lost our van, gear, and trailer. It flipped our whole lives figuratively and literally on their sides.”
Rather than engage audiences via crowd-funding, the band quietly saved throughout the rest of the year by performing local headline gigs to re-build their infrastructure. Bruised but not broken, they entered Syncromesh Studios in Birmingham, AL with producer Jason Elgin [Collective Soul, Maylene & The Sons of Disaster,] to record Reactions during 2016. In just three weeks, they tracked everything analog the old-fashioned way.
“We love production in all of its forms, and working with Jason was an awesome learning experience,” the singer goes on. “He knew every in-and-out and possible thing you could do in the studio, and it became like a creative sanctuary.”
Now, “Earth As A Dream” rises like a phoenix from a torrent of shimmering keys, bombastic percussion, and incendiary guitars before exploding on an expansive refrain.
“Lyrically and thematically, there were a lot of things going on for us and in the world at large,” Ben comments. “There’s this pervasive mindset, particularly in Western society, that the world is going to hell in a handbasket. However, the earth could be hit by a comet or some crazy catastrophe completely out of our control might happen. It’s supposed to make everyone think. It’s a visual journey where you might be looking at the earth from the stars or on some distant planet millions of years later, reminiscing. It’s a testament to how cool it is that we get to live here and have this place while we do.”
Then, there’s the haunting and heartfelt “Sublimation,” which conjures up a simmering stew of impressive fretwork, percussion, and towering vocals. “Two days after the wreck, one of our close friends passed away,” he continues. “It was a crazy tragic house fire. It really hit home, because I just lost everything. My girlfriend was cheating. My buddy died. I was sitting in my room in a state of reflection. I felt like I was having a conversation with him, and the chorus, ‘Take my hand child, let me show you how to breathe’ was his advice to get out of this slump.”
The title REACTIONS evokes the devotion of these four musicians, facing a near death experience and bouncing back with a deeper appreciation for their craft and a definitive body of work.
“It plays into the laws of physics and thermodynamics,” he says. “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. You never know what’s going to happen. Everything can change in an instant. It’s about how you react. There are those thematic elements in the music and songwriting. That’s been the story of the last year and ties into what we created.”
As these four talents continue “reacting” at the highest level, listeners everywhere fall into an escape fueled by mind-blowing musicianship, poetic songwriting, and hooks that resound past the heavens.
“This is what we live by musically,” Ben leaves off. “We say this all the time, ‘You can play to three people or three-thousand people, but if you’re not enjoying it and connecting with your band mates, what’s the point?’ Our approach is to take something negative and turn it into a positive by using the language of music. It comes down to overcoming adversity. This makes us complete, and we hope you feel that.”