215 North Lumpkin Street
Athens, GA 30606
9:00 p.m. Friday, April 4, 2014
The Whiskey Gentry
Listening to Radiolucent, one might get the impression that little has changed down in Dixie since Otis Redding, the Allman Brothers, and Jerry Reed first made their way across the red Georgia clay. Well, truth be told, not all that much has changed. At least not where Radiolucent comes from. Down here the whiskey still warms you, the collard greens still taste just like grandma’s, and the classic records continue to prick at the soul, same as the day those tracks were cut. You’ll find Radiolucent adhering to this rich heritage like a time-honored family recipe.
Forming in 2007, Radiolucent set out to add their own chapter to the story of southern music. Around their tales of heartaches and hard times, the band crafted a high-octane brand of traditional southern music that’s planted firmly in the present. With their own brand of truth, the Lucent boys began to plow their way across the North Georgia countryside, playing dive bars, honky tonks, and fairgrounds, all the while amassing a dedicated following that continually pack their hometown shows in Athens, Georgia. Currently the band is writing and recording their debut full length record, due out in late 2011, and building their regional fanbase with their live shows, solidifying their place as one of the south’s premiere rock & roll bands. more >>> Amongst many attempts to describe The Whiskey Gentry, perhaps the best take was from Paste Magazine who called them a “toe-tapping, steamrolling kind of band, its fingers picking deep into fields of bluegrass…with a punk-inspired kick drum.” The Whiskey Gentry’s catchy tunes reel in listeners spanning from music novices to mainstream audiences, while their musical mastery garners the professional praise and respect of those with the most sophisticated of musical palates. Two albums in, both co-produced by John Keane (R.E.M., Uncle Tupelo), they recently gained official recognition as a finalist in the Chris Austin Songwriting Competition held at MerleFest. From local haunts to the Nashville music industry’s elite, the band’s burgeoning followers and supporters have quite literally set the stage for nationwide venues and air waves.
Initially a quintet formed by husband and wife duo Lauren Staley and Jason Morrow, the band’s debut album in 2011 Please Make Welcome became a critically-acclaimed success, quickly launching the Atlanta-based band into markets from Tampa to NYC, and at festivals priding themselves as the first to showcase the next best thing. They have since expanded on both a physical and geographic level, becoming a septet comprised of Chesley Lowe on banjo, Sammy Griffin on bass, Price Cannon on drums, Michael Smith on mandolin, and Rurik Nunan on fiddle.
Their most recent album Holly Grove is another leap in the band’s ongoing evolution on a musical and social scale. In early 2013, The Whiskey Gentry rallied fans to raise funds for studio sessions through a Kickstarter campaign, which ultimately far surpassed their goals and expectations. Local artists and established pros alike pitched in as well, creating a true ensemble effort on songs such as a duet with Butch Walker on “One Night in New York,” and cameos throughout the album by Les Hall, the Dappled Grays, and Radiolucent. Mastered by Glenn Schick (Indigo Girls, Drive-By Truckers), Holly Grove infuses elements of country, bluegrass, folk, rock, and punk with a mix of poppy and poignant lyrics, fiery and heartfelt vocals, traditional and avant-garde sound, honesty, edginess, and entertainment all around.
Luring listeners in, capturing their ears, hearts, and minds, and blazing new trails in Americana music and beyond, The Whiskey Gentry is only just warming its heels. Hunter S. Thompson wrote that “the whiskey gentry” was “a pretentious mix of booze, failed dreams, and a terminal identity crisis.” Though they are never lacking offers from fans for a shot of whiskey, their dreams are becoming reality, their identity is distinct, their future on a steady crescendo. more >>> Described alternately as “Hee-Haw on mescaline” and “CBGB-meets-Grand Ole Opry,” The Defibulators are a New York City country band. First-and-foremost a live band, their boundless energy and infectious sense of joy onstage have quickly earned them a devoted following in a city not known for its love of country. Through four years of relentless touring since the release of their “Carter Family-meets-Ramones” (AMG) debut, ‘Corn Money,’ the band’s sound has evolved and their songwriting matured, and in August 2013, they unleashed “Debt’ll Get’em”, a 10-track, au courant, urban take on classic country. No Depression cited it as “a blistering, let’s-get-down-to-the-truth, eclectic mix of musical styles that push and stretch the boundaries of country music by blending genre-bending guitars, fiddles, and banjo with the often haunting vocals of Erin Bru and the won’t-let-you-stop-thinking lyrics of Bug Jennings.”
Co-produced with Brian Bender (Langhorne Slim, Jose James), the record channels the frenetic energy of their legendary live shows into tight, punchy hooks and foot-stomping sing-alongs. From “Pay For That Money,” a pedal steel and fiddle lament about debt, to “Ponytail Run,” a dreamy ode to beauty just out of reach, the album is a modern and wide-ranging interpretation of country styles, full of gorgeous harmonies and razor-sharp wit. “Everybody’s Got a Banjo” is a biting, 70's swamp funk-inspired nod to the instrument’s recent ubiquity (“If you don’t know how to play it, well it still looks cool”), and “Cackalacky” is the tongue-in-cheek story of an Appalachian musician who moves to New York City to make it big in roots music. Strange as that idea might sound, it’s not too far from the truth for The Defibulators.
“I kind of discovered country music by accident,” says guitarist, singer, and songwriter Bug Jennings. “I grew up in Texas, and all I heard was pop country on the radio, which didn’t speak to me. It was only when I moved to New York that I stumbled upon classic country music like George Jones and Buck Owens. I became obsessed. It became our mission to expose as many people to it as we could.”
When a friend’s punk band came calling in search of an opener, Bug and Telecaster-player Chris Hartway, who bonded over their love of classic country while working as bartenders at a Manhattan barbecue joint, grabbed Bru (a local singer Bug met in an elevator), and The Defibulators were born. In a week they put together a setlist that mixed rockabilly rave-ups with Misfits and Black Flag covers.
“That set the tone for our approach to country music,” says Jennings. “We were coming at it from a purist standpoint in the beginning, and we never lost sight of the whole reason we formed in the first place, our love of the old stuff. But I’m sure if I stayed in Texas, I would not be in a country band right now. There’s something about the fast-paced, frantic, neurotic energy of New York that forged our style”
“It’s most fun to play for people who don’t think they like country music,” Bru explains. “That used to happen more often, but things are changing. People treated us like a bit of a niche band at first, but folks are really catching on.”
Over two years of steady gigging in New York, they fleshed out the lineup to include Mike Riddleberger on drums, David Dawda on bass, Smitty The Giant Fiddler on (you guessed it) fiddle, and Metalbelly on washboard/harmonica/percussion, and in 2009 they released their debut album, ‘Corn Money.’ The record earned immediate critical notice, with New York Magazine raving that “[Bug] and singer Erin Bru slip into harmonies that recall the storied Gram Parsons–Emmylou Harris duets,” Under the Radar hailing it as “a boozy concoction worth swigging until last call,” and Pop Matters describing it as “a drunken square dance on speed.”
With an acclaimed album under their belt, the band bought a retired 1977 Dodge ambulance on eBay, loaded it full of gear, hit the road, and never looked back. Four years of international touring ensued, including performances everywhere from Central Park Summerstage and Amsterdam’s famed Paradiso to the top of a Macy’s float on Seventh Avenue and even a Belgian prison.
“They made us eat the prison food,” remembers Jennings with a laugh. “Every time our bass player took a solo, the prisoners would just erupt in cheers and whistles and shouts, and I thought, ‘Wow they really like bass solos.’ But we found out later that every time the bass took a solo, Erin turned around with her backside to the audience.”
Now The Defibulators are headed right back where they want to be: on the road. They’ll take ‘Debt’ll Get’em’ coast to coast this summer on tour, playing festivals, theaters, clubs, breweries, biker bars, and everything in between. Just maybe no prisons this time around. more >>> $10.00