Amplify Presents: Bob Dylan VS. The Band
David Robert King, Wyatt Espalin, Connor Christian, Jared and Amber, The Bitteroots, Mike Killeen, The Flint Hill Specials
515-B North McDonough St.
Decatur, GA, 30030
Doors 7:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM
Watch & Listen
Amplify Presents: Bob Dylan VS. The Band
Amplify My Community presents its next installment in the Vs. series: Bob Dylan vs. The Band. Join a collection of local and regional artists as they explore the musical legacy of Dylan and the Band with covers of Like a Rolling Stone, The Weight, and more. The show is the conclusion of the 2017 Amplify Decatur Concert Series, and all funds raised will benefit Decatur Cooperative Ministry's efforts to prevent and alleviate homelessness in Decatur and DeKalb County.
David Robert King
Born Catholic in a Mormon town, David Robert King has never been good at blending in. His often dark, occasionally humorous songs are unapologetically personal while grounded in the arid soil of his native Idaho. His songs reverberate with the sting of the high desert wind and the hidden fury of the Snake River. David has toured the world with rock, folk, and bluegrass groups, and extensively as a solo artist. He has shared the stage with Grammy winners and music legends including Josh Ritter, Loudon Wainwright III, Darrell Scott, Mary Gauthier, Over the Rhine, Tim O’Brien, and Don Henry. In 2010, his debut E.P. "Take Me Home" was in the top 40 on the Folk Music Charts. In 2011 he released the full-length album Midnight in Gloryland to fan and critical acclaim before disappearing into the coastal northeast. In the summer of 2015 David was lured from hiatus by an invitation to the stage of the legendary Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, TN.
With the Ocoee River in East Tennessee as the backdrop, and North Georgia on the horizon, Wyatt Espalin's debut album, The Pardon (April, 2013), was born. Entertaining audiences in his hometown of Hiawassee, Georgia as early as age eleven, Wyatt's passion for music was obvious, even from the barn room stage built by his grandfather. He and his brother Matt were known as "The Fiddling Brothers." While Matt hung up his fiddle and bow after high school, Wyatt was just getting started. Armed with a guitar and a desire to write songs, he paired with Cobi Ferguson to form the acclaimed Americana duo, Trees Leave. Combining electric guitar with traditional bluegrass roots led to a noticeably unique sound and a growing fan base. Having years of touring under their belts and two successful albums, Run (2008) and The Gospel of Hurt (2010), it was time for Cobi to settle down, and Wyatt to find a new setting fit for a more personal level of songwriting. So alone began his sabbatical to the Ocoee, and his debut album, The Pardon, which in ten songs provides ten glimpses into breakups, burdens, colorful britches, and the light on the other side of it all.
"Every night I have a new hometown," sings Connor Christian in the title track of the latest release from Connor Christian & Southern Gothic, New Hometown. Those words could be the mantra of many touring bands, whose lives become a blur of highways, hotel rooms, stages and crowds. But in the case of Connor Christian & Southern Gothic – "CCSG" as their fans affectionately know them – those words are more than just a metaphorical description of the troubadour lifestyle of a band on the road. They are a nod to the beginnings of a band – not just its members, who come from places as far and wide as Los Angeles to Russia – but also its music, an amalgamation of roots-rock, country and Americana.
"We don't like to box ourselves in," says Christian. "But we hear from fans all the time that our blend of sounds and influences is one of the things they love. When we get on a stage, it just clicks. It's seamless. And based on the way people are reacting, it must be working." It's working indeed. From the fiddle-driven and harmony-rich opener "Sheets Down", to the country-ballad swoon of "Only Need You", "(She's) My Salvation" or "Back in Dixie", to the unapologetic, raunchy swagger of "When I'm Gone", or the instrumental twin-fiddle blast of the aptly-named "Fiddler", New Hometown is an 18 song joyride. Produced by Christian and John Briglevich (Goo Goo Dolls, Edwin McCain), this is roots music crafted by a restlessness of spirit, born from the travels of a true troubadour.
Connor Christian was born in Los Angeles, but before he was a teenager, had lived in South Korea, Indonesia and Belgium. At the age of 14, he left home with a guitar and a backpack, and continued his travel and musical growth in Pennsylvania, Florida, Georgia, South America and even Africa. By the time he settled in Atlanta, GA in 1996, his life and his music were steeped in culture and influence from his well-traveled youth, and a tradition of diversity. And it was in that tradition that he began crafting what would become CCSG.
Connor met drummer Shawn Thacker in 2004. Thacker, a Rome, GA native, was raised as many rural Southerners were – surrounded by guitars, fiddles, mandolins and banjos. And, of course, KISS. "Hearing 'Detroit Rock City' by the flashing lights of my uncle's 8-track player was a life-changer," says Thacker. Suburban Washington, DC native and bass player Joe Abramson, who cut his teeth on '60s British blues and "pretty much anything with loud guitars," rounded out what initially began as a trio, the first incarnation of what would later become CCSG.
Continuing in the spirit of New Hometown, next came classically trained violinist (turned fiddler) Elena Martin, born and raised deep in Soviet Siberia. Aside from her fiddle work, Martin is beloved among fans for her huge smile and infectious on-stage energy. Multi-instrumentalist and Syracuse, NY native Jeff Spirko completed the lineup, joining in 2010. Spirko moves with ease between guitar, mandolin, banjo, fiddle and piano, but he's not alone in his multi-instrumental talent. Christian, in addition to his vocal duties, plays guitar, piano and mandolin, and Martin plays piano and mandolin when not blistering the neck of her fiddle. The band's ability to move between so many instruments adds not only a great dynamic to the music, but a level of excitement to their live show as well.
"Live, there are definitely some moments that might look like a fire drill. We have a song or two where some of us change instruments mid-song, so to the uninitiated, it looks chaotic. But it adds to the excitement. And it gives us so much flexibility on stage to do different things, and change the texture of the show from song to song."
CCSG has spent the better part of the past three years on the road. When not headlining, they've shared stages with such artists as Zac Brown Band, Tim McGraw, Willie Nelson, Corey Smith, Big & Rich, Uncle Kracker, Gloriana, STYX, ZZ Top, Heart, Foreigner, and more. The diverse nature of the artists with whom they've toured again reflects the diversity of the band's sound. "It works," says Christian in regard to the varying nature of the audiences. "We've played to country crowds, rock crowds, young crowds, old crowds. We've played to jam band audiences and we've played bluegrass festivals. The response with all of them has been fantastic."
Fantastic enough for Billboard Magazine to notice. CCSG was named "Artist on the Verge" in Billboard's Best Bets of 2012 issue. "It's pretty crazy," says Christian of the accolade. "I hope it's a harbinger of things to come."
And if the momentum gained in the past year is any indication, CCSG indeed has big things to come. The release of New Hometown on February 12 will be preceeded by the release of the video for "Sheets Down", directed by Mil Cannon (Usher, Pink, John Mayer, Collective Soul), and supported by the band's continued "never-stop" approach to touring.
"We've traveled the world," says Christian. "We find the people, the stories - there's always something familiar, no matter where we go. So when we get to play songs that are shaped by those people and those places, somehow it always feels like we are home, no matter where we are."
Jared and Amber
Jared & Amber are in love with each other and with music. So naturally, they started making music together. Both went to school for music and quickly decided music was great and school was not. In 2006, they got married. They moved to the lovely city of Decatur in 2011 to pursue music together full-time. Since then they have had the pleasure of playing TedXAtlanta, writing for other artists, winning Eddie's Attic 2012 Songwriter Shootout, and being named one of the top 7 bands in Atlanta by AXS. They play their own brand of theatrical folk rock, and stand out from other rootsy duos with their soaring harmonies and intricate arrangements. Along for the ride are Audrey & Autumn (the twins!), their dog Ramona, a lot of coffee, and some fantastic family and friends.
The Bitteroots are an Atlanta/Decatur-based original jam-rock band founded in 2008. Fronted by female vocalist Laura Dees, the band has a sound that’s been called a “unique brand of soulful rock.” The Bitteroots’ groove-oriented approach to rock n roll has drawn comparisons to the Tedeschi-Trucks Band, Melissa Etheridge and Janis Joplin.
From pop melodies to extended jams, The Bitteroots’ sets run the gamut with something for everybody.
Along with Dees, an accomplished songwriter and powerful singer who joined the band in 2010, The Bitteroots also include founding members Bill Taylor on bass and Mike Davis on drums. Guitarist Kyle Bryant joined The Bitteroots in 2013 and saxophonist Derron Nuhfer became an official member in September 2014.
The Bitteroots have released four compilations of original music, the latest being the single “Under the Big Sky,” recorded in the fall of 2013 at The Music Farm studio by Mark van Allen (Govt. Mule, Indigo Girls, Blueground Undergrass, Zac Brown Band, Whiskey Gentry). The melodic title track is accompanied by two bonus tracks, the hard-rocking “Defenseless” and a re-tooled version of “Try Me Again” which first appeared on the band’s debut release, “French Fries,” in 2011.
Other releases include 2012’s full-length “Central of Georgia” and 2013’s “After The Rain.”
The Bitteroots have shared the stage with: The Freddy Jones Band, Allgood, Col. Bruce Hampton, Arrested Development, 7 Walkers (Bill Kreutzmann of The Grateful Dead), George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, Anders Osborne, Coy Bowles (Zac Brown Band), Dead Confederate, Cigar Store Indians, Adron, Michelle Malone, The Shadowboxers, Ruby Velle & The Soulphonics, Eliott Bronson, Sydney Rhame, Tedo Stone, Saint Francis, honey honey, and many other great bands and artists.
Originally from Athens, Georgia, Mike counts Bob Dylan, Vic Chesnutt, Nirvana, and Uncle Tupelo among his formative influences. He has shared the stage with southern rock legends the Marshall Tucker Band and Grammy Award winners The Blind Boys of Alabama.