The story of the Alabama Shakes begins in a high school psychology class in Athens, Alabama when Brittany Howard approached Zac Cockrell and asked if he wanted to try making music together. Inspired by diverse artists such as James Brown, Otis Redding, Led Zeppelin and AC/DC, the band retained a sense of groove and space from their idols, along with a blistering force and emotion that simply couldn’t be learned. Eventually finding their way to a Nashville studio in 2011, they cut the song “You Ain’t Alone,” which helped launched the band. In 2011, NPR named them one of the best bands of the year, while MTV has called them one of the top bands to look for in 2012.
Diamond Rugs is a collaboration between members of Deer Tick, The Black Lips, Los Lobos, Dead Confederate and Six Finger Satellite. When John McCauley, the lead of Deer Tick decided he wanted to make another record during his downtime in his new home base of Nashville he decided to work with a number of friends and musical colleagues. What happened next was entirely unexpected; the musicians McCauley had recruited to play on his record, ended up contributing their own songs to the album and a fully-formed band emerged. The Diamond Rugs debut long player is going to be released in 2012.
The best of folks who write songs make you think about time, and Robert Ellis has the same ability. When he performs, the final hours of night race along in a sweaty, whisky-soaked blur. When he sits on a stool — with just his guitar, voice and songs — time slows down, as he spins tales of love and life and the way they twist together and are torn apart. All of it could easily be classified as country, of a sort with the great writers and players Ellis studies and admires, from George Jones to Paul Simon. Ellis’ own songwriting ability shines on his debut album, Photographs. (SummerStage)