Welcome to the first of our 12 part primer series bringing you great acts appearing at this year’s Outside Lands Festival. Don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t heard of the Alabama Shakes just yet. The soulful roots rock quartet from Athens, Alabama formed in 2009, when lead singer/guitarist Brittany Howard and bassist Zac Cockrell were still in high school.
Joined by Steve Johnson on drums and Heath Fogg on guitar, Alabama Shakes sprang out from obscurity a year ago when the group’s powerful track, “You Ain’t Alone” broke onto the blogosphere a month before the release of their first EP, the four track Alabama Shakes.
Howard’s stirring vocals have garnered the vocalist numerous comparisons to Janis Joplin, all of which are fully warranted. This woman belts it out with gritty pipes that will leave you wondering how she found a time machine to bring her to us from the 60’s. That being said, Alabama Shakes make totally unpretentious music that sounds old without being gimmicky. Stripped-down blues-tinged back up provided by Cockrell, Johnson, Fogg and Howard’s own accomplished guitar skills results in honest and stirring soul music.
Alabama Shakes have recently been gathering attention from all over, making MTV’s list of Artists to Watch in 2012 and getting tapped by Jack White to record a series of singles on his label, Third Man Records. The group has built a solid reputation owing to the energy of its live shows and they are about to embark on a two leg international tour that will take them to venues and festivals all over Europe, in between appearances at Sasquatch, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza and a slew of venues around the US of A (including an opening gig for Neil Young at Red Rocks).
Of course, we recommend you come catch them with us at Outside Lands Fest in August.