Amplify Decatur Music Festival featuring Lucinda Williams and her band: Outside on the downtown Decatur square

American alternative country and rock band formed in February 1985, at Minneapolis, Minnesota.

John Moreland

Some days, being John Moreland has to hurt. As others bury experiences and stifle regrets, Moreland pokes old wounds until you're sure they've got to be bleeding again. It's painful. But in Moreland's care, it's also breathtakingly beautiful. With the release of his highly anticipated third solo album High on Tulsa Heat (out April 21st via Thirty Tigers), he offers another round of the lyrics-first, gorgeously plaintive songs that have earned him devoted listeners across the country.

Moreland started writing when he was 10 years old, the same year his family moved from Kentucky, to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he still lives today. He turns 30 this year, but he's been slinging songs for more than half his life. He started fronting local punk and hardcore bands in high school. After graduation, he had an epiphany. "I'd just overexposed myself to punk and hardcore to the point that it just didn't do anything for me anymore," he says. The remedy? He ditched his music for his dad's: CCR, Neil Young, Tom Petty, Steve Earle.

"I think what appealed to me about it was lyrics," he says. "In hardcore, there might be great lyrics in a song but you have to read them off a piece of paper to know it. I was 19 in 2004, and Steve Earle had put out 'The Revolution Starts Now,' and I remember hearing the song 'Rich Man's War' and totally feeling like somebody just punched me in the chest."

Moreland's been chasing the chest punch ever since, composing pointedly and prodigiously. "I've always written to make myself feel better, I think," he says. "It's my way of figuring stuff out — figuring out where I stand. You can't do that without emotion. You can't do that insincerely."

When Moreland released In the Throes in the June of 2013, the album didn't just charm listeners — it stunned them. American Songwriter proclaimed that "[t]hose not familiar with the Oklahoma City singer-songwriter should remedy that pronto," while No Depression declared the collection "isn't so much songwriting as alchemy with words and music." MSNBC host Rachel Maddow heard his songs and joined the chorus, tweeting: "If the American music business made any sense, guys like John Moreland would be household names."

If In the Throes ignited Moreland's 2013 summer, FX's Sons of Anarchy poured gasoline all over the fire that fall. The hit series featured three Moreland-penned and -performed gems: "Heaven," off of his Earthbound Blues, the second of two full-length albums he released in 2011; and "Gospel" and "Your Spell," both from In the Throes.

As word continued to spread and Moreland played more and more shows, a pattern began to emerge: his songs hit listeners hard. While his precise, evocative lyrics often get the credit, his voice — a scritchy-scratch baritone capable of soul-shouting but especially potent in its subdued default register — ensures his lines linger.

"I got so used to playing in bars where you're just kind of in a corner," he says. "You're just background music, and nobody gives a fuck about you. It was so soul sucking. I would try to sing in a way that would get people's attention."

For Moreland, that didn't mean screaming or gimmicks. "If you just sing it like you mean it — like so hard that people can't ignore it…" He trails off for a second, then concludes: "That's what I was trying to do."

These days when Moreland performs, rooms ordinarily buzzing with drunken chatter and clanging glasses fall silent.

When he decided to head back to the studio to record the follow-up to In the Throes, Moreland admits he felt more pressure than in previous sessions. "I just tried to ignore it because I figured it's probably not a good way to make a record," he says. "But yeah. It was in the back of my mind."

High expectations must agree with him. High on Tulsa Heat is a triumphant sequel, pulsing with the sharply drawn imagery and cutting vulnerability that his listeners have come to expect. Produced by Moreland, the 10-song collection features a strong cast of players including Jesse Aycock (Hard Working Americans, Secret Sisters), John Calvin Abney (Samantha Crain, The Damn Quails), Jared Tyler (Malcolm Holcombe), Chris Foster, and Kierston White.

Stripped-down arrangements rooted in gritty rock and roll punctuate and cushion Moreland's compositions. Tracks including "Hang Me in the Tulsa County Stars," "Heart's Too Heavy," and "Cleveland County Blues" set the tone, trafficking in relentless honesty and folk.

Buoyant lament "Sad Baptist Rain" tackles internal conflict. "I was just trying to grab this scene of being a 16-year-old church kid in the parking lot of the punk rock show trying to reconcile having some fun with my Southern Baptist guilt," he says, with a hint of a laugh. If "Sad Baptist Rain" is about self-acceptance, "White Flag" warns of self-destruction. "It's a song about wanting or needing somebody so bad that you're willing to destroy yourself for it," he explains.

"American Flags in Black and White," grapples with nostalgia, and while Moreland initially seems to condemn it, he ends up acknowledging its comfort, framing the past as everyone's guilty pleasure. He never really condemns or judges anyone — except himself. "Anytime I do write a song that I feel like is more like pointing a finger at somebody, it never feels good and I always just end up throwing it away," he says.

The album also includes the first recording of live show staple "Cherokee." Based on a vivid dream, the song explores longing, shame, forgiveness, and love. "I want it to be open ended," he says of "Cherokee" and his songs in general. "I don't want to be told what happened or how to feel."

"You Don't Care for Me Enough to Cry" proves once again that Moreland does intoxicatingly sad as well or better than anyone, but the concluding title track rollicks victoriously, relishing the thought of a safe place — an idea Moreland says serves as a loose theme for the album. "A home is something I've really wanted," he says. "But that means you have to figure out what that really means and what it is. The record is about those questions."

Packway Handle Band

2015 was a busy year for the Packway Handle Band. The band kicked off the year with the release of their Yep Roc Records debut, Take It Like A Man, a collaboration record with producer and folk surrealist, Jim White. The band cruised the Caribbean aboard Kid Rock's annual Chillin' the Most Cruise for the second consecutive year and then spent the summer with Kid Rock and Foreigner for forty amphitheater shows on the Cheap Date Tour. The tour took the Athens, GA five-piece to all corners of the continental United States and included 10-consecutive sold out shows at the DTE Energy Music Theater in Detroit, a feat that was commemorated by Billboard Magazine. The guys capped the summer with several fall festivals including the Americana Music Festival in Nashville, Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion, and the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco, CA. After a well-deserved break from the road, the band went back to the studio with producer Scott McCaughey (REM, Wilco, Minus 5). This much anticipated effort will feature special guests Bill Berry (REM), Brad Morgan (Drive By Truckers), Matt "Pistol" Stoessel, and Thayer Serano. As the record was being finely tuned, Packway Handle Band played a select number of dates in early 2016, including the South Sounds Music Festival, Zac Brown's Southern Ground Music and Food Festival, Papa Joe's BanjoBBQ, and a string of dates with Steep Canyon Rangers.

Harold Holloway & Co.

If you haven’t been to church with “Harold Holloway & Company” then, You haven’t been to Church!

The four harmonious voices of Harold Holloway, Willie Henderson (Uncle Willie), Tim Parker, and Richard Phillips make up the phenomenal sound of Harold Holloway & Company. The group has a unique soulful sound, from urban neo-soul to the down-home syncopated rhythms of traditional gospel.

The group has made appearances on the renowned BET’s Bobby Jones Gospel TV Show. Harold Holloway & Company’s talent also extends into the play arena where they appeared in the international stage play “Five Guys Named Moe.” They have traveled and performed nationally and internationally.

HH&C lives by their credo, “Giving to Audiences, what God has given to us”. Their down to earth and up to Heaven connection with the heart of the audience is remarkable. It is what makes Harold Holloway & Company an experience you definitely do NOT want to miss.

Harold Holloway & Company has shared the stage with many greats such as Shirley Caesar, Mighty Clouds of Joy, Vickie Winans…just to name a few. Look for their latest live recording from Atlanta, GA on Crew Records featuring the single Never Had A Doubt.

They are currently signed with Crew Entertainment which is owned by William Guest of Gladys Knight and the Pips.

Kristen Englenz

The story goes that Englenz learned to read musical notes before she was able to read words, demonstrating her natural aptitude for music. Later, she went on to play piano, guitar, and French horn, and was awarded a scholarship to study music performance at the University of North Carolina Asheville. She has such a natural gift for melody and mimicry that she can summon birds to respond back to her voice. (She once even won an international bird-calling contest in 2009). Today, she is making her name as a performing singer, songwriter, and musician in the Southeast. Her soulful singing has a range and depth of feeling that has led many to compare her to vocal greats Stevie Nicks and Joni Mitchell. Kristen's deeply felt songs carry layers of meaning, which peeled back, reveal a vulnerability and passion for emotional expression.

Kristen's new album, The Extent of Play, recorded at studilaroche by Atlanta sound engineer Benjamin Price (Little Tybee, Hello Ocho, Faun and a Pan Flute) features her breathy voice and finger-picked guitar in a stripped down, live-to-tape setting. Tracks on the album are spun together with carefully layered lyrics that reflect the human condition and makes one feel what most people are too hesitant to openly express. Kristen's sound is enhanced but not overpowered by the ethereal notes coming from guest musicians George Kotler-Wallace's (Book of Colors) pedal steel, and subtle support from Ryan Donald's (Little Tybee) bass.

"The Extent of Play has a genuinely appealing quality absent from nearly every other local release in this genre," writes Jeff Clark of Stomp And Stammer. "There is a stirring intimacy to these performances that holds you in their grasp."

Englenz's debut music video for her original song "Bells" recreates her musical journey of personal expression through by using 1,175 photographs to create a stop-motion video. Clues to Englenz's musical and geographic influences are meticulously woven into a Abelardo Morell-like narrative. "Bells" is about the constant effort to find, understand, and claim oneself,"explains Kristen. "I wanted the video to represent a modern version of Richard Wagner's Gesamtkunstwerk, which you should never ask me to spell, but it means a piece which synthesizes all the arts. In this case it's a video containing original photography, lyrics and music."

Englenz has appeared at Jack of the Wood, UNC Asheville, and Altamont Brewing Co. in Asheville, NC; The Red Light Café, Mammal Gallery, Eddie's Attic, and The Red Clay Theatre in Atlanta,GA; New Earth Music Hall, and the Go Bar in Athens, GA. She has opened for Americana artists Hannah Aldridge, Richard Buckner, and Lara Ruggles. Her original track "Georgia Peach" recently debuted on 98.1 FM the River, Asheville's adult alternative station.

"Kristen is a sweet, kind, and talented young woman; and those qualities come through in spades in her music. You'll leave her show mellow, thoughtful, and entertained, " comments Mark Van Allen (Zac Brown Band, Govt Mule, Clay Cook), pedal steel aficionado, recording engineer and producer of the audio recording of "Bells".

$45.00

Tickets

Lenz Presents: Amplify Decatur Music Festival on the downtown Decatur Square. 

 

TICKETS STILL AVAILABLE AT THE DOOR!

 

www.AmplifyDecatur.org

 

Come enjoy a beautiful night of music and all Decatur has to offer. Tickets are sold with re-entry to the festival and will feature craft beers, local food, and more!

 

Proceeds go to support Decatur Cooperative Ministry's work helping the homeless in DeKalb County. 

 

In partnership with Eddie's Attic. More info can be found at www.amplifydecatur.org.

 

The festival will take place rain or shine. Tickets are non-refundable in the event of severe weather conditions.

 

See you there!

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