Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Hello, all. Using Blogger's been...interesting, but I'm moving back to my Wordpress. Please look for me at

My most recent review, following last Sunday's tornado relief benefit concert, is up!

Thanks to all who came here to read!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Hitting Rock Bottom in Montgomery

Reckless at Rock Bottom
I've been reviewing local music for a while now, so let me take a momentary break to talk a little about the venues that provide these wonderful musicians an outlet to show off their talent.

First off is the Rock Bottom Pub. This sports bar is situated in East Montgomery, right off the Eastern Boulevard. The pub may be filled inside and out with flat screen televisions (30 HDTVs, 3 of which are 110' screens), but don't be fooled. As their home page states, they are "a celebration of the three great American past times: The burger, "real" sports, and music."
Chaos Unplugged at Rock Bottom

The pub hosts a fairly wide range of musicians - country and almost the entire spectrum of rock - at least 5 days a week. Local "house" musicians and bands that tour the country play here. Most of the musicians play covers, as that appears to be what is popular in Montgomery. Most of them are really good. (See the comment from Brad below for more big names that have come through the Rock Bottom Pub.)

Rock Bottom usually has a good turn out for its shows. The pub has a stage set up inside, complete with stage lighting and ample floor space for dancing. Outside is a 1400 square foot patio where the musicians sometimes set up to play. When the weather is nice, the patio - although there is less space out there - is an idyllic place to listen to good music and enjoy the company of friends.

Miss Used at Rock Bottom
This month, Rock Bottom has/will hosted 7-0-8-0, Reckless, Zac Young, Chaos Unplugged, Legs and Liquor, and Cold September, among others. This upcoming Sunday, May 22nd, they will have a 12 hour benefit concert for the Red Cross tornado relief. 12 different musical acts will be performing from noon to midnight.

Check out their website for more upcoming shows.

Reckless at Rock Bottom
So they play a lot of music. But just how good of a venue is Rock Bottom?

A quick google search provides mixed reviews, giving it about a 4 star rating on Google's scale (out of 9 reviews). Reviews range from loving this place and not being terribly impressed with it. The reviews on Yelp! are positive, stating that, "The owner is super nice &...The drinks and drink specials are great....This is by far my favorite hangout in Montgomery!" (via Holli D. - On the flip side are the negative reviews on Urbanspoon and Google reviews, which mostly complain about the quality of the food. Although, there are only 2 reviews here, so take it with a grain of salt, pun not intended. Granted, it's pub food. I've eaten at few bars/taverns/pubs where the food is actually really good, and most of them were in the midwest. I'm not saying the food is bad, because it's not. And as Brad of the Rock Bottom says, "I also promise there are way more compliments on the food than complaints, you can't always be perfect." It's all a matter of taste, and you can't always rely on the internet for accurate information. Best that you try it for yourself!

Miss Used at Rock Bottom

All in all, whether you want a relaxed musical experience or the concert experience, Rock Bottom is a great place to go to hear great live music. Bring some friends! And if you see me, stop by and say hi! I'll be the one with the camera. :)

Friday, May 13, 2011


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.

Two Men Under Fire

BAND: —-
It might be obvious by now that one of my favorite venues in Montgomery is the 1048 Jazz and Blues Bar. The setting for taking photographs isn’t as good as it is at the Rock Bottom Pub. However, I love the atmosphere of the 1048. I’ve never seen it packed here, which gives it an almost small town pub feel, though it is in the heart of the city. The fact that so many people know each other here, and the friendliness of the bar tenders, adds to this.
What I really love about going to the 1048 is seeing the raw talent of the local musicians. Every week I’ve gone there has been a pleasant surprise. This past Saturday (4-30-11), I went expecting – from the website’s schedule – to hear a band I had never heard of called the Woodpeckers. As it turned out, the band was unable to make it that night. The 1048 promises live music 7 days a week, 365 days a year, so not having a band play that night simply wouldn’t do. So two musicians who didn’t know each other (and thus had never played together) were contacted by a mutual friend and asked to come play (according to drummer Andrew).
I had met the drummer, Andrew, before when he played with his brother, Jay, on Monday nights. He was accompanied by guitarist Jeremy (I hope I got your name right! I’m going on memory.), whom I don’t believe I’ve seen play before. Both of them are outstanding musicians, and though I could tell that they had never played together before (as I watched and listened to them work to match each other’s rhythm), they still managed to sound amazing together. They even managed to succeed when faced with an bar of people who couldn’t decide on what songs they wanted to hear, as evidenced by the drunkard who insisted on Alice In Chains and nearly started a fight when nearly everyone else disagreed on his music choice. (Fortunately, no fight actually broke out. Everyone basically ignored him, and he eventually quieted down. Thankfully.)
During the musicians’ first break of the night, I took a moment to speak with Andrew. He explained to me that many musicians learn to play by ear. This is in contrast to how I learned – by learning to read sheet music. With sheet music, everything is laid out before you like a map. The notes you’re supposed to play, how long to hold each note, the tempo, even the crescendos and decrescendos. Playing by ear, on the other hand, involves hearing pitches and rhythms and learning to reproduce them. It may sound easy, but unless you know the difference between a high E and a high C (for example) and know those notes when you hear them… Suffice to say, it takes talent to play either way. I love that I know how to read music and believe that it’s important, but I know that’s not the only way to learn. 
I’m impressed by musicians who can play by ear because it’s something that I cannot do. Sure, when I’m playing, I can hear when I get something wrong. But that’s not the same thing. I am stuck relying on sheet music to play anything. 
But to the point… It’s important to support local musicians. Go places where live music is played. Give them a chance, because there is so much raw talent out there. Musicians, the good ones at least, don’t play to get rich. They play because they love their music, because it’s their passion and they have fun doing it. They enjoy playing for an appreciative audience. Without the audience… Well, then they’re just playing to a brick wall, and who wants to do that?
If you’re in Montgomery, the 1048 downtown plays music every night of the week. Go check them out! 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Surgestone, One Shocking Rock Band

Living in Montgomery, it seems that I am subjected to cover bands more than I was in St. Augustine. Truth be told, St. Augustine spoiled me. However, much as I harp on cover bands, they’re not really a bad thing. There is a world of difference between a group who plays covers well and one who writes bad songs and can hardly play their instruments. Miss Used was a perfect example of how much fun, and exactly how good, a cover band can be.
I judge a band on 3 main things:
1) Their sound (how well they play)
2) Their energy
and 3) Their creativity.
How much of a show they put on is also nice, but (to me) more of a bonus that often accompanies point 2.
I should note that, by creativity, I don’t just mean in their songwriting ability. A lot of talent goes into taking a known song and making it your own. Take for instance Johnny Cash’s cover of Nine Inch Nail’s song “Hurt.”

The words themselves don’t change, but the meaning behind them when Cash sings does. He owns that song as if it were his own.
That being said, Surgestone, while really good, wasn’t anything special. They only had a fraction of the energy of Miss Used. (But then, there were only 2 members there this night, both of whom remained seated during the performance. I imagine, if I got to see the entire band, it would be more energetic.) And while far from owning the songs they performed, they put enough of their own flair to keep the songs from being radio copies. The only dancing came from a trio of drunk Japanese men.
Don’t misunderstand me, though. They weren’t boring. Their sound was excellent. It was an enjoyable experience. It was understandable why the 1048 was so crowded. It didn’t hurt that they played a lot of 90s music, either. A lot of really good music came out of that decade. (It doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that I grew up in the 90s and am nostalgic about the music. No, really, it doesn’t…mostly.)
Surgestone obviously enjoys playing music, and it shows. Likewise, the audience seemed to really enjoy them, even if there was little dancing. According to their Facebook page, only half of the band was present. I’m sure, with the hole band, their performance would have been excellent. Even so, they are really good, and I look forward to seeing them again. Hopefully, next time I’ll get to see the whole band!

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Night of Getting Miss Used

Miss Used

Silver light flashed across the stage as the band entered. A thunderous rhythm resounded from the drums. The bassist, guitarist, and vocalist stood in a ragged line, their backs to the audience, whose cheering and screaming rose to the rafters. The guitars struck their first chords, and the Rock Bottom Pub thrummed with vibrant life. The pub’s patrons were drawn to the music and the stage like a starved man faced with a grand feast. The show Miss Used provided was mesmerizing, their music full of heady energy.
The greatest issue I have with cover bands is that often they do little more than mimic the form. There’s no energy, no creativity, no flair. Not so with Miss Used. With every song, they reminded their listeners why they loved those songs and made them enjoy them anew. This wasn’t just some gig in a small pub in Montgomery. This was a full-blown show that transformed the sports bar into a true concert venue.
It was apparent that the band was having tons of fun, and their joy at creating such wonderful music was infectious. It was impossible not to sing along or get up and dance. From those first chords, Miss Used grabbed hold of you, took you for a wild ride, and didn’t let go of you until you were spinning and laughing with wild abandon, drunk on music (and, let’s face it, alcohol).
In short, Miss Used was captivating. They were everything a cover band should be.
Check out their website for tour dates. Though based in Birmingham, AL, they tour much of the Southeast. Believe me, they are not a band to be missed! Especially if, like me, you’re a lover of rock. Unless you hate rock or having fun, you will not be disappointed by Miss Used.
After you’ve checked out their tour dates (what are you waiting for? Go look! Now!), please check below for more photos of this amazing band.

Jay Hayes and the Musical Experiment

Jay Hayes and the Musical Experiment
They played to a small crowd, but then, it was a Monday night, and the hour approached midnight. Many in Alabama’s capitol were likely asleep in bed, for work awaited them in the morning. Those who did stop by the 1048 for a cold one were not to be disappointed. In the past, Monday’s were dominated by a solo act of the talented Jay Hayes. For two weeks now he had changed up his act to jam with other musicians, including family. An “experiment” he had called it a week ago, when I first watched them play.
I would consider the experiment a success. The rhythm of guitars and drums blended together nearly seamlessly once they got each other’s groove figured out. Fingers raced across steel strings. Heads bobbed and feet tapped in time to the music. Later in the night, as alcohol gained its sway over the taproom, there would be dancing and singing along. But to start, though the music had an energy to it, the bar remained tame. Which may be more of a reflection on Montgomery’s populace than on the music. The people here are more laid back, the pace slower, than where I come from (Florida and the Midwest).
I’ve not had the pleasure of listening to Jay play solo, so I can only comment on how he sounds with others. Likewise, both weeks he has played, “for the first time,” with some different people. So the sound is not going to be the same as it would with a band who has practiced together for years. It lacks the put-together neatness of “formal” bands.
That being said, neither have the groups from either night sounded amateur. It is apparent that, though they’re trying to feel each other out, they’re all talented musicians. They know, mostly, what they’re doing. There’s a freshness to their playing. Perhaps the best way to describe it is “raw.” They’re not practicing the same music again and again, so there’s no boredom in their sound. On the other hand, they’ve not performed together long enough to feed on each other’s energy. With time, I can imagine their sound would be far more lively than it is now.
For all its rawness, however, it is still enjoyable. Enough so that it brought me back here for another listen. I don’t doubt I’ll come back to listen to them more. I’d like to see the other bands that play at this venue as well.
The only truly negative thing I can say about this “experiment” is that the songs are very long. Not “oh my God, when is this song going to end?” long, but long enough that you start to notice that it’s been over five minutes and they’re still on the same song. In my opinion, if you don’t notice the length of a song, it’s the perfect length. In any case, I didn’t find myself bored, so it’s really not that bad of a thing.
Those who know me might wonder why I  didn’t comment on the fact that they played covers. Simple answer, they played a lot of obscure songs that I honestly don’t know if they’re covers or not. Also, there was a lot of instrumentals and very little vocals. The more well-known covers were saved for when the crowd had more alcohol in them. (Their energy seemed to diminish during those songs.)
Overall, though obviously not anything phenomenal, Jay Hayes and his musical experiment far exceeded my expectations. Their rawness is refreshing and enjoyable. And for pub music, enjoyability can be better than perfection. I would recommend anyone in (or visiting) Montgomery to check them out. I would also suggest checking out the 1048. It’s a very friendly little bar with daily live music. It’s hard to beat that. Just make sure you don’t drink all of my cider. ^_~