Birmingham-based eclectic indie rockers The Great Book of John bring out the best of blues, folk and rock ’n’ roll. The Great Book of John proclaims the blessings of a life of poverty, drawn from the book of the Bible for which band is named. GBJ kicks off its summer sweep at City Stages in support of the release of their latest effort Yves’ Blues, described by the band as “the prodigal son’s anthem.” The band features guitarist and vocalist Taylor Shaw, bassist Alex Mitchell, drummer Chip Kilpatrick and additional singer Bekah Fox.
Dead Confederate • Friday • 7:30 p.m.
It may be the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, but Athens, Ga.,- based Dead Confederate is alive with the bluesy rock that was prominent in ’69. The band released its first album, Wrecking Ball, in September 2008 on Razor & Tie, and has spent most of the past year on the concert circuit in support of the CD. A track called “The Rat” has even yielded some commercial success. Featuring Hardy Morris (vocals, guitars), Walker Howle (guitar), John Watkins (keyboards), Brantley Senn (bass) and Jason Scarboro (drums), Dead Confederate has been compared to contemporaries My Morning Jacket, Band of Horses and The Whigs. Hovering somewhere between Southern, psychedelic and indie rock Dead Confederate has recently gotten ink in Rolling Stone, Spin and Blender magazines. Think Jimi Hendrix singing for Three Doors Down.
Plain White T’s • Friday • 9 p.m.
This get-up-and-dance tween pop band needs no introduction after their song “Hey There Delilah” rocketed to the top of the charts and appeared on not one but two albums, Every Second Counts and All That We Needed reaching number one in the U.S., Germany and Canada. The song also earned the band a Teen Choice Award in the “Choice Summer Song” category and a 2008 Grammy nomination. Formed in 1997 in the Chicago suburb of Villa Park, Ill., The Plain White T’s have expressed a desire to do things the “classic” way with ‘60s era equipment and an admiration for The Beatles. Their latest release Big Bad World peaked at number 33 on American pop charts. The Plain White T’s have toured with the likes of Jimmy Eat World, Motion City Soundtrack and the Warped Tour. The band also sings the theme song of ABC Family’s series Greek and their music has been featured on 90210.
Wild Sweet Orange • Friday • 10: 30 p.m.
Wild Sweet Orange has been integral in cementing Birmingham’s place on the national music scene. The local band – Taylor Shaw, Preston Lovinggood, Garret Kelly and Chip Kilpatrick – released the album We Have Cause To Be Uneasy in 2008. Coinciding with the release came an appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman, the song “Land Of No Return” being featured on Grey’s Anatomy, and tour dates both as a headliner and with the Counting Crows. Produced by Mike McCarthy (Spoon, Patty Griffin), We Have Cause To Be Uneasy has received positive reviews from respected publications including Paste magazine and Alternative Press. City Stages will provide us an opportunity to welcome home a local band that has certainly made good on a large scale. In addition, Shaw and Kilpatrick can be seen twice on City Stages weekend, performing in their side project Great Book Of John.
Alserene • Saturday • 1 p.m.
These five guys from Trussville purport to be doing something new in modern rock, but their MySpace page cites The Shins, Led Zeppelin and Fugazi as their top three influences. Also, none of them appear to have last names. Still, there’s something oddly compelling about the promo photo that features each one of them holding on to his Johnson. Surely these newbies have at least one raucous song you’ll want to hear.
Drive South • Saturday • 2 p.m.
Drive South makes its mark on City Stages with music as Southern as fried chicken and as American as fireworks on the Fourth of July. Hailing from Columbia, S.C., the band is comprised of seasoned performers who love to have a good time. With reminiscences of The Boss, The Eagles and Credence Clearwater Revival, this jam band likes to take things slow.
How I Became the Bomb • Saturday • 3 p.m.
Electro-pop band How I Became the Bomb kicks off a summer tour at City Stages in support of their new release, Volume IV: Through Adversity through the Stars, released June 6. How I Became the Bomb formed in 2005 to make pop music outside of the bubble gum variety. Although bandmates Jon Burr and Adam Richardson started playing together in high school in Rome, Ga. in the mid-1990s, their first real gig was in 2005 at the Temptation Club in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Moments before they took the stage, a friend inspired by Dr. Strangelove came up with the name How I Became the Bomb. Four shows later, the group was recording on Music Row in Nashville. A few dozen shows after that, How I Became the Bomb had secured U.K. management and was touring Europe, even earning a “Band of the Day” shout-out in the June 4, 2007, edition of The Guardian. All of the Volume releases, including the latest, are digital-only downloads of three songs each. There are plans in the works for the band to compile all of the volumes into an “annual” that includes physical packaging, vinyl, DVDs and bonus tracks.
The Hard Lessons • Saturday • 4 p.m.
Detroit indie rockers The Hard Lessons don’t always believe in the hard rock sound. The trio consisting of Augie Visocchi, Korin Louise Visocchi and Ryan Vee are celebrating their eighth release Arms Forest this summer. The band describes the album as “the sea of hands raised high, dancing in a living room.” The band formed five years ago in a dorm room at Michigan State University and soon found themselves opening for acts such as Wolfmother and The Stooges. Combining honest lyrics and wild live show, The Hard Lessons sound like The Breeders with a little psychedelia.
Hightide Blues • Saturday • 5:30 p.m.
The Auburn-based quartet Hightide Blues played its first gig only three years ago, but the band has made quite a splash in the college rock and jamband scenes since that time. With a self-titled release and follow-up release Love Comes Easy in its catalog, Hightide Blues puts a modern spin on Southern Rock. A 2008 appearance at Bonnaroo heightened the band’s exposure, and 2009 will find them touring throughout the Southeast. In addition to headlining shows, the band – Paul McDonald, Jonathan Pears, Scotty Rollins and Cragon Sims – has shared the stage with Sister Hazel, Sara Bareilles, Karl Denson and The Zac Brown Band among many others. Come see firsthand why Atlanta’s Rock 100.5 FM calls Hightide Blues “The best thing to come out of Auburn since Bo Jackson.”
Roman Candle • Saturday • 7 p.m.
Folk rockers Roman Candle hail from Chapel Hill, N.C., and just released their second album Oh Tall Tree in the Ear featuring the single “Why Modern Rock is A-Ok.” Logan Matheny stakes claim on the drums, vocalist and guitarist Skip Matheny, Skip’s wife Timshel Matheny plays the Wurlitzer and bassist Jeff Crawford formed in 1997 at UNC-Chapel Hill and moved to Nashville in 2007. The band has shared billings with fellow City Stages acts The Whigs and the Indigo Girls, as well as The Psychedelic Furs. Hightide Blues has been touring non-stop over the last few years throughout North America and Europe.
Wax Fang • Saturday • 8:30 p.m.
See write-up on "Wax Fang on Boost Mobile"
Black Moth Super Rainbow • Saturday • 10:30 p.m.
Trance pop band Black Moth Super Rainbow headlines the Boost Mobile Discovery Stage Saturday night with an eerie collection of hypnotic songs. The band touts this year’s Eating Us, a follow-up to their 2007 release Dandelion Gum, as “hauntingly futuristic.” The term works just as well to describe BMSR’s overall sound. The band has opened for artists like the Flaming Lips and Aesop Rock before striking out on their own under the guidance of Tarbox Studios producer Dave Friedmann known for his work with The Flaming Lips and Weezer. Consider the quirkiness of early Smashing Pumpkins, the eeriness of Tori Amos and the psychedelia of Quiksilver Messenger Service and you’ve got an idea of what Black Moth Super Rainbow is all about. More than any other act at this year’s festival, this band will leave you spellbound.
Turbo Fruits • Sunday • 1:30 p.m.
Like the name implies noise pop band Turbofruit is turbo charged with energy to wake up audiences from here to their homebase of Nashville, Tenn. Featuring band members Jonas Stein, Zack Attack and Wez Traylor the trio has toured all over in support of their release Mama’s Mad Cos I Fried My Brain available on the venerable Fat Possum record label. Think of them as The Stooges lite.
Royal Bangs • Sunday • 2:30 p.m.
The Royal Bangs tout themselves as a hyphy band. That’s not hi-fi, it’s hyphy, pronounced HYE-fee. It’s a slang word that, if Wikipedia is to be believed was coined by SanFran hip-hop artist Keak Da Sneak, and means “rambunctious.” As in, “… an individual is said to ‘get hyphy’ when they act or dance in an overstated, fast paced and ridiculous manner.’ The Knoxville, Tenn.,-based Bangs are bound to do that, seeing as how they claim to owe an artistic debt to Saturday Night Nickelodeon. Featuring Sam Stratton, Ryan Schaefer, Chris Rusk, Brandon Biondo and Henry Gibson, the Royal Bangs released a full-length album called We Breed Champions on Audio Eagle, the label run by Black Keys drummer Patrick Camey.
Electric Touch • Sunday • 3:30 p.m.
Describing their output as “melodramatic popular songs,” Austin-based Electric Touch recently released the single “Sounds from the Underground.” Inspired by such different sources as Muddy Waters, The Beatles and David Bowie, Electric Touch has come a long way in two short years. The band played their first gig in 2007 and was immediately signed to Justice Records. No stranger to concert festivals, Electric Touch has graced stages at Bonnaroo, Coachella, SXSW and Lollapalooza. Electric Touch features Shane Lawlor, Christopher Leigh, Louis Messina Jr. and Ross DuBois.
Ryan Kinder Band • Sunday • 5 p.m.
Ryan Kinder plays a type of bluesy rock that isn’t often heard on the radio anymore, although it should be. The namesake guitarist — a mere 20 years old — has been on tour for the last four years. Inspired by great guitar players such as Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughn and contemporary John Mayer, Ryan Kinder is an acoustic virtuoso who released two albums, Ryan Kinder and The EP, before starting his sophomore year at the University of Alabama. His work has been celebrated throughout the Southeast, most prominently on “Reg’s Coffee House.”
Overfloe • Sunday • 6:30 p.m.
Sunday has become a day of praise at City Stages, and though that usually takes the form of traditional gospel music, it also assumes new forms such as might be represented by the Birmingham ensemble Overfloe and their credo, “Many notes, many chords, one God”.
The closest one might come to categorizing this music is “gospel jazz” but that’s oversimplifying the complex and joyous sound of te five man ensemble. “What makes us different from a regular gospel band or a jazz band is the reason we play,“ reed man De’Lon Charley told WBHM in 2006. “A C [chord] is a C no matter where you hit it, on the keyboard or whatever instrument you’re using. The intent of that C is what makes it different.”Charley, along with Steven Myers (keyboards), Rush Smith (guitars), Mario Leonard (bass) and David Johnson (drums) do not disguise the fact that they are playing with sacred intent, but they are not bound to any particular orthodoxy, believing that music this positive has a message for every member of the audience. (It’s all music, by the way, for not one of these guys can sing a lick.)These guys are tight, Chick Corea and George Duke tight, so don’t show up for Overfloe expecting to see cats messing around with a jam. With a new CD tentatively entitled The Jericho Project on the way, Overfloe might just knock down a few walls around Linn Park Sunday afternoon.
Young Jeezy • Sunday • 8 p.m.
Yeah, there are a lot of retro acts this year, and doubtless some wag has wondered why George McMillan bothered to book a performer with “Young” in his name. Said wag should check out the size of the crowd that’ll be out watching Jay Jenkins, known further and wider as Young Jeezy, before he waggeth overmuch.
Jeezy turns 32 this year and he’s packed a lot of thug life into his career so far. The very year he joined Boyz N Da Hood (2005), he dropped a hit solo with a Top 5 smash, “Soul Survivor” that ensured he wouldn’t have to show up for group meetings anymore.Jeezy’s had the requisite run-ins with the law to maintain his street cred, but he’s kept busy in the studio, issuing his best set yet last year, a timely release called The Recession that earned a Grammy nomination for his duet with Kanye West on “Put On”. Touring behind the CD last year, Jeezy pulled one of the great thug moves of the decade when he told Vibe magazine that he supported John McCain. (He subsequently recanted, though, and wound up serenading the President-elect with Jay-Z during Inauguration Week.)
As one of the top three Atlanta rappers, Young Jeezy is a City Stages act deserving of the adjective “headline”, and if you’re not there for his Sunday night festival closer downtown, don’t worry; you’ll probably be able to hear the crowd holla in Homewood.