Musicians for Tuscaloosa: Local Musicians Coming to the Aide of Alabama’s Tornado Victims

It may take many years for tornado torn areas in Alabama, such as the city of Tuscaloosa, to rebuild. In the weeks since the April 27th tornado outbreak, efforts have been taken to help the victims recover.

All over Alabama, local artists have become frontrunners in the efforts to raise money for tornado relief. Through their music, they help encourage others to donate to the cause so that Alabama can begin to rebuild.

The below video, a collaboration of four R&B/hip-hop artists (a2z, Silent D, Michael Battito, and Kadesh) is one such example of the efforts of local musicians. They wrote and performed this song and put together the video. According to the information they provide, all proceeds from downloads of this 99 cent song will go toward relief efforts in Tuscaloosa.

Keith Moody at the Rocking for the Red Cross in Montgomery, AL

Alabama songwriter/singer Keith Moody organized the Rocking for the Red Cross Benefit, a 3 concert tour which began in Nashville, TN on May 19th. Two following shows were held in Montgomery, AL on May 22nd and Fairhope, AL on May 30th. The latter two shows featured Alabama natives. At the Fairhope show, Keith Moody told MSNBC that, “We raised $3,000 in Montgomery, $1,200 in Nashville … Hopefully, if we can get anywhere between that, I would love to match the total so far.”

According to his website, the benefit has raised over $4,000 so far, although there has been no confirmation on an exact amount.

This past Friday, June 7th, Buffalo Wild Wings in Trussville, AL, held a benefit concert featuring four bands from around the Birmingham area. Recovery Alabama reports that 100% of the proceeds from food and alcohol sales would be donated to the tornado relief. This event, hosted by Erica with Erica Soulshine, also included the sale of t-shirts designed by Natalya Spicker and signed by the bands, and face painting for the kids, as well as text-based scavenger hunt and a raffle.

An American flag is attached to a tree in a tornado ravaged area of Eclectic. / Amanda Sowards Advertiser

Perhaps the largest benefit concert in Alabama to date has been the Roll Tide Relief Benefit Show, held in Tuscaloosa, AL, the city most damaged by the April 27th tornadoes. From 2 P.M. on June 4th until 2 A.M. on June 5th, 50 local bands performed at 5 venues in Tuscaloosa. For $10, music lovers could purchase a wristband and visit as many shows as they desired. 100% of the proceeds went to the United Way of West Alabama.

The amount of money raised for the benefit was not made immediately available.

A group of University of Alabama students and local community members organized the event to help raise the money to rebuild their city. The event organizer, Anne Miles Wilkerson, told Ben Flanagan of al.com, “As residents of Tuscaloosa who were here during the storm, we are in awe of the amazing generosity and compassion of this city and cannot wait to enjoy the day with our friends and neighbors.”

(RTR Promotions)

Like the community, the musicians were also eager to help out in any way they could. At the Rocking for the Red Cross Benefit show in Montgomery, the owner of the Rock Bottom Pub, where the event was held, told The Local Scene that he had to stop calling musicians because too many were agreeing to come perform.

At the Roll Tide Relief show, local musician Blaine Duncan (frontman for Blaine Duncan and the Lookers) told Ben Flanagan that, “soon after the tornado struck and the realization set in across the community that a lot of people were in need, our bass player, Kendall Rich, said to me, ‘If there’s any kind of benefit, I’d be willing to play it.’”

He added that, “Priority number one is to get everyone back on their feet, which I hope this benefit accomplishes.”

Indeed, that seems to be sentiment of many local musicians who are singing their hearts out to help the victims of these tornadoes.

It will be a long time before things return to normal in Tuscaloosa and other parts of Alabama that were affected by the tornadoes. But thanks to the support of so many wonderful musicians, the venues that support them, and the wonderful people of Alabama, there has been a positive start to the rebuilding efforts.

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Grooving along with Motor Gruve

BAND: MOTOR GRUVE

GENRE: ROCK

VENUE: IT’LL DO TAVERN, MONTGOMERY, AL

For some reason, it comes as a surprise to people that my favorite genre of music is hard rock. Sure, I like most genres, including orchestral. (I’m still debating whether I prefer Mozart or Tchaikovsky.) But there is something about the hard, fast drumbeats and the shredding and quick chord progressions on the guitars, coupled with that deep, throaty tenor, that sends something primitive in me to dancing. It doesn’t hurt any that I’m in love with the sound of the guitar, be it electric, acoustic, or bass.

When I was invited to hear Motor Gruve at the It’ll Do Tavern here in Montgomery, I leapt at the opportunity.

I know I complain about cover bands sometimes. Okay, a lot. It’s mostly because I was spoiled by the bands in St. Augustine, most of whom played mostly  originals. But I will admit that, when a cover band is good, damn is it good!

And Motor Gruve? They were pretty damn smoking hot!

They had the right look, the right sound, the right energy. They are one of those bands who know how to feed off the crowd and really make them get their butts out of their seats and dance. They do it without having to tell the audience, or cajole them, to get up by the stage. Their music, and how they perform it, does the work for them.

I will add this about local musicians in Alabama (well, the ones I met in St. Augustine, too!). I have seen very few who aren’t good down-to-earth great guys (and girls), and who aren’t an absolute blast to hang out with, even when they’re not playing. Alabama musicians, I (almost) hate to admit it, but you all are turning me on to cover bands.

And hey, don’t worry if you missed out on Motor Gruve when I went. They have an upcoming show this Friday, June 10th, at the Blue Iguana in Prattville (a pretty awesome venue) and another on June 24th at Club Rewind (another nice small-town feel bar, just a little bigger than the It’ll Do Tavern, and practically right next door) in Montgomery. Go check them out!

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Local Music in the Community

So, what else is going on in the music scene in Montgomery? It may seem like all that’s happening are bands playing at bars, but I assure you, that is just the beginning. The Montgomery Advertiser provides a pretty good source for some of the other events going on in Montgomery this week.

This past Thursday (today as I’m writing this), June 2nd, the local Guitar Center store had its finals for the fifth annual King of the Blues contest. Local musicians competed to reach the semi-finals (with aim for the national finals) to discover the next great blues guitarist. Five lucky hopefuls from across the country will be chosen to perform at the King of Blues finals at the House of Blues in Los Angeles, where they will play alongside Warren Haynes before a panel of celebrity judges.

Pete Anderson

The musicians are competing for over $50,000 in prizes, which includes studio time with Grammy Award winning producer Pete Anderson. (Photo courtesy of guitarcenter.com)[1]

This Saturday, June 4th, several local bands and performers will be performing at the Union Station Train Shed in downtown Montgomery. Musicians will include Wishbone, Dr. Feelgood, Jessica Williams, Mac Cone, and David Jackson.

This family friendly event (BYOC or “Bring Your Own Chair”) will begin at 6 pm and last until approximately 10pm. A percentage of the ticket sales will be donated to The Women of Hope, a charity that offers counseling and support for breast cancer patients. More information can be found on Facebook via “BYOC/Wishbone.” [2]

Did you know that, for just $10, you could get a CD version of Hail the Titans’ soon to be released album, signed by the band? Or for $500, you could get the band to not only perform at your house, but to also cook you dinner? Want a hand-decorated didgeridoo? A donation of $175 could get you that and more!

The Montgomery-based instrumental progressive rock band, Hail the Titans, has set up this clever campaign strategy to raise money for their debut album, “Hymns of Mare Nostrum.” Information can be found at http://www.facebook.com/HailtheTitans or at http://www.indiegogo.com/HailtheTitans.

Their Facebook page allows you to demo their music. It is quite brilliant and very unique.  Check it out! And once you fall in love with their amazing sound, as I have, make sure you donate so that you, too, can get a piece of their talent. I, for one, would love to get my hands on that didgeridoo… [3]

Don’t forget that Kanye Twitty has their official debut show this Friday, June 3rd, at the Rock Bottom American Pub! Also playing this Friday, at Club Rewind, is Mama Said! Be at one, be at the other, or hop from one to the other (both are on the Eastern Blvd!). Just be sure to be there!

Well, that’s it for this week’s exciting news in local music. Stay tuned for more!

[1] http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/article/20110531/GO/110531015/Guitar-Center-s-King-Blues-Montgomery-store-final-take-place-Thursday

[2] http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/article/20110518/GO/110518025/COLUMNISTS

[3] http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/article/20110531/GO/110531024/Montgomery-based-instrumental-band-want-cook-dinner-you

A Local Scene Exclusive: Introducing Kanye Twitty, a Marriage of Hip-Hop and Country

BAND: KANYE TWITTY

GENRE: HIP-HOP/COUNTRY/ROCK

VENUE: ROCK BOTTOM AMERICAN PUB, MONTGOMERY, AL

Hip-hop? Country? Together?!

I was more than just a little curious how these two very different genres of music could possibly be blended together to be performed by one band. On one hand, you have country, a genre that calls to mind rural settings, acoustic guitars and banjos, and some depressing topics. On the other hand, you have hip-hop, a more urban style that seems to follow a more violent and sexual nature. Although, maybe not that much more than country, with its talk of bar fights and drinking…

In honesty, the genres aren’t that completely different. Both tell life stories. Still, the very idea…

I had the opportunity to attend a private sneak preview of Kanye Twitty at the Rock Bottom Pub last Monday. The band’s name is derived from the names of Kanye West and Conway Twitty, hip-hop and country artists respectively. I was pleasantly surprised at what I saw and heard that night.

If you may recall, I have said in the past that, if you’re going to do a cover, then you better make that song your own. Change it up, make it unique. That is exactly what Kanye Twitty does. They take these hip-hop and country songs and turn them into rock hits.

This is far more effective than you may think. These songs are given a fresh new energy. I found myself rocking out to hip-hop songs that I usually can’t stomach listening to. I found myself enjoying country songs that usually inspire me to do nothing more than hum along to the tunes. Not that any of these songs are bad on their own, mind you. And here I will admit to being biased towards rock music, though I do enjoy most of every genre.

My point is, whether you like country, hip-hop, or rock, or all three, I believe you will greatly enjoy what Kanye Twitty has to offer. Before you know it, you’ll be swept up in the energy of the music and brought to dancing in front of the stage, heady with the feel of the music vibrating through the speakers.

But don’t take my word for it. Their first full performance will be this upcoming Friday, June 3rd, at the Rock Bottom Pub. Be there!

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Rocking for the Red Cross

On April 27, 2011, a deadly tornado outbreak struck the deep South, taking at least 280 lives across 6 states. More than two-thirds of those deaths occurred in Alabama. Parts of 31 counties were utterly destroyed. One of the hardest hit cities in Alabama was Tuscaloosa. Entire neighborhoods were decimated by a tornado that spanned a half-mile with winds that likely exceeded 200 mph. At least 53 people died in that tornado, many more injured, and so many more left without home, possessions, cars, jobs…

MFD and The Keith Moody Band

Among the first to arrive in Tuscaloosa that night was the Montgomery Fire Department. They arrived around 11:00 pm and worked tirelessly along with other local Fire Departments to offer aid to the survivors and help search for those who were missing.

A short time after, Alabama native Keith Moody contacted Vinnie, the owner of the Rock Bottom American Pub in Montgomery, to set up a benefit. That was the same day that Vinnie had opened a notebook to start brainstorming ways to help the tornado victims. Together, they set up a benefit concert to be hosted by the Rock Bottom to raise money for the American Red Cross, with 100% of all donations to be given to the Red Cross to help with the clean up efforts in the wake of April’s tornadoes. At one point in the planning, as Vinnie told me, he had to stop calling bands because everyone he contacted was more than eager to come out and play.

In all, 12 acts – 6 acoustic and 6 bands – were scheduled to perform. This included musicians from all over the Deep South; some, like the Keith Moody Band, from as far as Nashville. The bands included: Wes Darnell, Wax, The Keith Moody Band, Leg-N-Liquor, Benny & the Jets, Mama Said, Blanton, Sam Marshal, Angels Landed, Lucky, Charlie C and the Cuzamatics, Zac Young, and Nick Gill. Instead of a cover charge, those who came were asked to make donations.

The music was, simply put, amazing. As promised, the music was non-stop from noon until the end of the night. While the bands inside were setting up or tearing down, you could venture onto the patio and listen to acoustic sets. Every single artist there had terrific talent, and I was amazed by the pure energy of some of them, especially by Benny and the Jets and Charlie C and the Cuzamatics. I also found a new obsession with the Keith Moody Band, as they played primarily originals (something I’ve been dying to hear since I moved to Montgomery). The night was brought to a rocking finale with the ever talented Mama Said.

Legs-N-Liquor "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star"

However, as talented as everyone was, one of the musical highlights of the day came when the vocalist of Legs-N-Liquor invited a little girl up to the stage to sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” between bands. This little girl, along with another who was too shy to get up on stage, danced their little hearts out to Legs-N-Liquor, and even had the chance to go up on stage and dance with the vocalist on one of the songs. The entire bar melted at the girl’s sweet voice as that short song whispered out over the sound of cameras snapping.

The musicians weren’t the only ones raising money for the Red Cross. The bar owner’s 6-year-old son, Riley, also played a huge part in raising money by setting up a lemonade stand inside the bar. That’s right, this benefit concert had it’s own lemonade stand! On a hot May day in the Deep South, with temperatures climbing into the upper-90s, that cool, quenching lemonade hit the spot. In all, this little entrepreneur sold 102 lemonades. At 50 cents a glass, he earned $51 dollars for the Red Cross.

The benefit concert was an outstanding success. Over $3,000 were raised. This was the second of Keith Moody’s three benefit concerts, the one before in Franklin, TN, and the next will be on Memorial Day in Fairhope, AL.

The tornado season isn’t over yet. Just this past Sunday, a monstrous F-5 tornado ripped through Joplin, MO, taking over 100 lives, making it the deadliest tornado since 1953. Already, at least 487 people have lost their lives to tornadoes this year alone, and many more have lost their homes. It’s never too late to volunteer or donate to help the victims of these disasters.

The Red Cross is always taking donations. Or if there’s a different charity you’d rather donate to, go for it.

Until next time, stay safe and keep rocking!

Big Event!

If you’re in or around the Montgomery area, you will want to be at the Rock Bottom American Pub on May 22nd! They will be teamed up with the American Red Cross for a 12 hour music event! Yours truly will be there to cover the event (excluding any unforeseen circumstances). The music will be from 12noon to midnight, with 12 different groups performing. No cover charge. However, they will be taking donations to help with the tornado relief for those affected by this springs’ tornadoes.

Go here for more details!