Thursday, December 5, 2013
Troy Brannon at FloraBama for Frank Brown International Songwriter's Festival
Alabama Music Office.com goes to FloraBama on the Gulf Coast to attend a performance by Troy Brannon for Frank Brown International Songwriter's Festival.
Troy Brannon is from the Baldwin County / Gulf Coast, AL area. He has been playing music professionally for 18 years. He began playing the fiddle at the age of 10, and also plays the piano. In high school, he played the fiddle in a local bluegrass band, and then began playing and singing in local bars, and restaurants around the area. His early influences include Garth Brooks, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Billy Joel, Bob Segar, and the Allman Brothers.
He attended the University of South Alabama on two vocal scholarships, while playing music at night. Troy began songwriting in early '90, and got recognition from the National Coalition for the Homeless for his song "God Made The Homeless,too", which they used in a multi-media slide show. He is also getting recognition in Nashville for his writing. Troy has been the front man in numerous bands, The Midnight Riders, Grits N' Pieces, etc.
Troy is a favorite on the Gulf Coast with solid fan bases in Alabama, Florida, Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, and he is a regular performer at the world famous Flora Bama, on the Florida/Alabama line.
Troy has shared the stage with such greats as Trisha Yearwood, Taylor Hicks, Jeff Cook from the legendary band "Alabama", Percy Sledge, Billy Joe Shaver, and he is a regular at the Frank Brown International Songwriter's Festival, held every year at the Flora Bama in Perdido, FL. There he has shared the stage with writers who have had hits with Jason Aldean, Toby Keith, Willie Nelson, Trace Adkins, George Strait ; the list goes on and on.
Troy's band simply named the "Troy Brannon Band" , is as energetic and entertaining as they come. They play all over the southeast and abroad, playing weddings, entertainment venues, festivals, and as an opening act.
Troy is also CEO of his new baby, a record label called Phoenix Records and Entertainment.
If you want a show and music full of energy, versatility, and just plain fun, Troy Brannon is your man !!!
Monday, December 2, 2013
Randall Bramblett Band at Bama Theatre
Alabama Music Office.com goes to the historic Bama Theatre in downtown Tuscaloosa, Alabama to attend a performance by the Randall Bramblett Band. They opened and backed up Chuck Leavell on this very special night.
Randall Bramblett has kept very busy over the years, selling out shows and being sought out by the best artists in the business. Last year found him playing with the Allman Brothers at the Beacon Theater in NYC, New Year's Eve with Widespread Panic, (he leads the MegaBlaster Horns,) and at New Orleans JazzFest with Chuck Leavell, in addition to performing on a new CD and touring with Bonnie Raitt and his own band.
Randall's real claim to fame is his exhilarating and heart-felt live show. An honest and true performer, Randall and his band leave it all on the stage every night, and his many devoted fans have taken notice. With headlining slots at many theaters and festivals, and numerous sold out performances, Bramblett's already shining star continues to rise. Each performance converts a new group of listeners into die-hard fans.
A jewel of Southern music, Randall Bramblett thrives on his new release, The Bright Spots, due May 14 on New West Records. Fresh off the inclusion of one of his songs on Bonnie Raitt's Grammy-winning album Slipstream, he has put together a masterful recording soaked with the soulful feel that has defined his music and that of his Southern contemporaries like Gregg Allman and Warren Haynes. From Howlin' Wolf to Ray Charles and "dark Motown" influences, sitar samples, gospel strains and even a snippet of water-splashing pygmies, The Bright Spots mixes diverse elements that dovetail into Randall's finest album yet.
"One of the South's most lyrical and literate songwriters." Rolling Stone
"You can't do better than Randall Bramblett" Bonnie Raitt
Thursday, November 28, 2013
Chuck Leavell at Bama Theatre
Alabama Music Office.com goes to the historic Bama Theatre in downtown Tuscaloosa, Alabama to attend a performance by Chuck Leavell. I have attended several performances by Chuck Leavell. In my humble opinion this was his best performance. He seemed to enjoy every moment he spent on stage.
Chuck Leavell played a sold-out concert at the Bama Theatre almost four years ago. Since then, he has performed on both of John Mayer's newest CDs, acted in a Billy Bob Thornton movie in a scene with Robert Duvall, recorded and released a tribute CD to the pioneers of blues piano, written and published Growing a Better America about saving our environment, headlined the Blue's Stage at New Orleans Jazz Fest, was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Grammy for his years with the Allman Brothers Band and played 29 tour venues in three countries with the Rolling Stones.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Gabriel Tajeu Interview
Alabama Music Office.com goes to Highland Music in Birmingham, Alabama to interview Gabriel Tajeu.
*Gabriel Tajeu-R&B Folk Rock Artist by Jerry W. Henry
I met with Gabriel Tajeu at Highland Music for our interview. It was a convenient place for both of us to meet. His new album, Finding My Way, is getting lots of attention. I recently recorded him on video when he played for Secret Stages. The comments on YouTube tell us they think Gabriel is a renaissance man! His vocals are described as “Clarity, strength of voice. Nice, catchy rhythm.” In other words, folks like him.
Gabriel was raised in upstate New York but went to high school in Auburn, Alabama. He went back up north for college but now calls Birmingham home. He grew up taking piano lessons and was in the band during high school. Gabriel came from a musical family. His mother plays piano and his brother plays trumpet and keyboards. His father is from Kenya; has a distinctive voice. Gabriel did not start singing until he went to college. He joined an acapella class on a whim but found he really could sing. He began to develop his voice then and guitar soon followed. That has led to him playing around town with the cover band, Bonus Round. That gig has lasted for almost 10 years now.
He has branched out and has been doing his own shows for the last couple of years. He released his first album last May. He has a direct approach to his songwriting. He said, “I listen to a lot of different music. When I compare my music to others, I don’t use as many fancy metaphors and similes. I think my style is more conversational. It comes from a place that says this is what it is and this is how I was feeling. There is something to be said about simplicity. With some of my lyrics I manage to convey an emotion or feeling or a time in my life without directly saying it. I have come to appreciate my more stripped down style of songwriting. I am working on some music right now that is a little more poetic in some ways. The content in Finding My Way is poetic by nature because the songs represent what I was going through. I think other people can relate to that. The next album that I am working on have a few lines in there that I think people are going to say ‘Oh that’s a great line!”
Gabriel calls his music “R&B Folk Rock” because it is not quite R&B. He uses all live instruments and is heavy on the drums, electric guitar and bass. His vocal delivery, the harmonies and the underlying cord structures are from traditional R&B. He says, “There is a little bit of everything, it’s music! Like I said about the songwriting, it’s something people can relate to, it’s easy, it’s out there, but it’s advanced in the sense that I’ve got incredible musicians playing. The song structure isn’t as typical as verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, verse, chorus. There is more depth to the actual cord structure. That’s how I describe my own music.”
Those incredible musicians that played on his album, Finding My Way, were Mark Lanter who plays drums and helped Gabriel polish some of his songs. Allen Barlow (Homewood School of Music owner) on guitar. Matt Slocum plays keys. He used 6 different bass players Sean Michael Ray, Beau Treadwell, Abe Becker, Luke Reynolds Jaron Olevski and Gary Justiss. The horns featured Chad Fisher on trombone, Gary Wheat on tenor Sax, Ledama Tajeu (his brother) on trumpet. Additional musicians were Matt Wiley on piano, David Crenshaw on percussion, Sam Pointer on guitar and Bethany Borg Martin on violin. Finding My Way was recorded at AudioState 55 in Woodlawn and engineered by James Bevelle. He tells me about James, “Incredible! He brought my music to life. He helped polish things up.” He adds, “Really everybody that has been involved in this since day one has been phenomenal musicians or phenomenal at their craft whether it be playing or recording. I am very blessed to have been associated with all those phenomenal people. I had other friends that gave input and help me develop ideas.”
Where does he see the future for himself? He answered, “I really see myself going and playing a lot of live shows. I would like to get in front of as many people as I can. The music lends its self to festivals as more than half the album is up-tempo, but also lends its self to coffee shops. More toward listening environments because we can take the instruments on the album and strip them down to just a couple of people. Some of the songs are slower songs that you can really vibe out and feel some emotions. I just want to get out there and play. I want to have as many people to listen to my music as possible.”
Gabriel tells me, “I write these songs because I am connecting with myself. There is something that I have to say. There is something that I have to put out there. In creating that, you create a connection with other people. You hope that they will get what you are saying and hope they will feel that way. When I hear a song on the radio and it touches me I know that someone gave that song to me. So as a musician I feel it is my responsibility to give that back. As a musician I have been blessed with certain talents. If can sing a song that helps somebody it’s my responsibility to do so. I have gotten twitter message all the way from Japan. I have people from Japan that resonate with this album. It’s beautiful to see the music crosses all kinds of boundaries. At the end of the day you are connecting with people and exploring our emotions. We have to do that as a society.”
Gabriel Tajeu’s Finding My Way is available from all major outlets, iTunes, Amazon, Spotify or his website where he will have more merchandise soon.
*This interview was published in the December 2013 Issue of The Leaf
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
J.K. Terrell CD Release Party at Rhythm and Brews
Alabama Music Office.com goes to Rhythm and Brews in downtown Tuscaloosa, Alabama to attend J.K. Terrell's CD Release Party.
*J.K. Terrell-New Wrinkle by Jerry W. Henry
I can't remember when I first met J.K. Terrell. Maybe it was when he was playing behind Johnny Shines or when I helped record Lost In The Mail. It could have been when he played with Beanland or the John Kilzer Band. Regardless our friendship goes way back.
I have always known J.K. as a percussionist and blues harp player. He is a seasoned, road-tested and proven musician. When he told me a couple of years ago that he was going to fulfill his dream to cut an album, I encouraged him. I assumed it would be an instrumental album or someone else would be the vocalist.
He has never been a vocalist and that part of the recording process scared him. But J.K. was determined to deliver what had been churning in his brain for years. The only alternative was for him to learn to sing. He brought in the best vocal coach in this part of the country. I let them use my studio and after weeks of coaching, he was ready to record.
I am not going to tell you that J.K. Terrell is the world's greatest singer. What I am going to tell you is he won't be embarrassed by the vocals on his album. His vocals are heartfelt, filled with emotion and really good clarity. His project proves you can teach an old dog a new trick.
J.K. wasn't looking to be compared to other artists. He knew recreating music is more effective than creating it. He also knows this usually produces recordings that are only satisfactory -- the sound is familiar and well performed, but lacks anything that demands attention. J.K.'s formula was to deliver the sounds that have been churning in his head all these years.
His album is appropriately titled, New Wrinkle, since J.K. is now receiving his social security check every month. He recently retired from the University of Alabama School of Social Work. New Wrinkle was recorded at Southern Breeze Studios in Tuscaloosa. It was engineered & mixed by John Kliner and mastered by Joey Laycock. The musicians for the project are Jason Speegle-guitars, Bruce Hopper-bass, John Kilner-drums, Matt Slocum-keyboards and NotSoSlim & Jann McCutchen Simpson-background vocals.
Though the disc stays true to roots music, it features a wide range of styles and rhythms. From the Chicago-flavored "Blues Had a Baby" to the Ry Cooder beat of "Down in Hollywood" to Scott Boyer's "Don't Hit Me" to the Jay Z/Hugo-inspired "99 Problems" each song expresses a unique personality.
My favorites was the album's only original, "Right Outside" and the cover of Tom Waits "Jockey Full of Bourbon." Another couple of great choices are Wet Willie's Jimmy Hall's "Rendezvous with the Blues" and Slim Harpo's "I Want To Be With You Tonight." Repeating myself, the songs are diverse, and fit perfectly to the record.
New Wrinkle is a southern blues album that grabs you from the beginning and holds you until the end. This album has a well-rounded selection of songs that feature J.K.'s great harmonica and percussion playing; no overplaying or dominating. New Wrinkle is a well-balanced album through out.
New Wrinkle can be purchased at CD Baby and Amazon and locally at some independent record stores.
*Published in November 2013 edition of The Leaf
Thursday, November 21, 2013
Jason Isbell in Birmingham, Alabama
Alabama Music Office.com goes to Railroad Park in downtown Birmingham, Alabama to attend a performance by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, headlining for the Revival Music Festival. Revival Music Fest was on Saturday, August 24th 2013 at Railroad Park with music acts; The CO, Elenowen, Leagues, The Apache Relay, The Dirty Guv'nahs, Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors and Jason Isbell! Food trucks were on-site so folks enjoy some of Birmingham's finest culinary offerings!
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Venue Owners and You, the Musician! By Jerry W. Henry
In this part of the country the responsibility for promoting a gig rests on the bands shoulders. This really makes no sense to me. To my way of thinking the venue owner’s ultimate goal should be to build a fan base for their venue. To get people that will trust that you will have good music in your venue every night.
There seems to me to be too much at stake for venue owners not to be truly interested in the music presented in their venue. They know that live music is important to the demographic that they are trying to reach. They need to reach out to that demographic in a professional way. When a venue owner only thinks about how many people a band can bring to their venue puts them in a never-ending cycle. You are gambling on each band doing their job as promoters. How effective this system is depends on each band.
Fact is people follow bands, not the venue. Bands that come to your venue and play their very best is all that should be expected of a band but we all know better. To my way of thinking, show promotion is a shared responsibility between band and venue. The band knows that without a performance, there would be no money coming into the venue in the first place. But remember just because a venue has live music every night doesn't mean the music pulls in the crowd. Musicians and venue owners need to find a common ground of mutual respect, professionalism, and measured expectation.
There is a very interesting dynamic between venues and musicians. Bands look to increase their following by sharing their music with the people who love it and those who will come to love it. Venues seek great shows with bigger audiences and more sales. There’s definitely a responsibility on both ends to do more for the other and while I think many local venues and artists understand that now, that bond can be strengthened.