“Bless my heart, bless my soul. / Didn’t think I’d make it to 22 years old.”
You’d be hard pressed to speak to anyone who hasn’t heard that lyric from Alabama Shakes frontwoman Brittany Howard. After working music venues in the Huntsville and Madison County area, the now-famous North Alabama band is headlining internationally known music festivals such as Coachella and Bonnaroo and making a big splash internationally as an in-demand group.
We’ve asked some of the up and coming bands in the area to share with Huntsville visitors the best places to find up and coming live music. We’ll also profile each artist and introduce you to who might possibly be the next big headlining artist, and get their recommendation on the best place for live music in the Huntsville area.
The Beasley Brothers are a young group based in Huntsville that blends rock, pop, and modern folk. The band is composed of brothers Lawson and Jackson Beasley, along with Austin McBride and Josh Bolding. Lawson and Jackson have said that they started putting together music at a young age in their parents’ basement and grew up playing in the praise band at their local church. Josh and Austin would join them later on, and the band has enjoyed continued success and gained a mass of fans in the Madison County area.
When asked about their favorite place in Huntsville to play, Lawson and Jackson reply “Panoply Arts Festival.” They continue, “It’s great to be able to play in front of 1,500 or more people, and be provided with some of the best sound equipment and engineers around. Walking up to a stage that big with that many people watching definitely gets your adrenaline rushing and energy high.”
The 2015 Panoply Arts Festival dates are April 24 – 26. Calling Big Spring International Park home, Panoply showcases bands such as the Beasley Brothers, as well as many other musical and artistic talent from the Huntsville and Madison County area.
Them Damn Dogs is a throwback rock and roll band, fronted by original members Brandon Holmes, Jerome Villarreal, and Drew Watts. Group members describe themselves as a group who began jamming in their garage, and now one who “wants to rock your socks off.” They cite their influences as having a wide range of origins, including classic rock, blues, punk, and even reggae. They have been known to play high energy shows for their peers at UAHuntsville, leaving everyone buzzing.
The band makes no hesitation when asked about their favorite venue in Huntsville. Guitarist and vocalist Jerome Villarreal explains “Copper Top is probably my favorite venue in Huntsville because of its energy and crowd response. It’s also a great place to get exposure.” The group also mentions that the Voodoo Lounge on the Huntsville Courthouse Square is also a great place for not only a drink, but to also check out up and coming musicians on their Open Mic nights on Thursdays.
Copper Top is a popular local restaurant that has grown an endearing reputation among Huntsville musicians as one of the top places to play. It’s located at 200 Oakwood Avenue. The Voodoo Lounge is a bar extremely popular with the younger crowd in Huntsville and is located downstairs at 110 South Side Square in the heart of Downtown Huntsville.
Ashlyn Maine are a young indie folk group based out of Harvest, Alabama, just a half hour drive from Huntsville. Ashlyn Maine formed their original lineup in 2011 at a bonfire following the April 2011 tornado outbreak in Madison County. Original members Jake England and Aaron Myers felt a strong connection to the local community in the togetherness provided by the week long power outage in the area and decided to form a band highlighting their favorite kinds of folk and acoustic music, which was all they could play without power.
Having been compared to artists such as City and Colour and The Lumineers, Ashlyn Maine has become a fast favorite of the younger crowd in Madison County. Recent members of the band include local UAHuntsville student and photographer Chelsey Ray as well as UAHuntsville graduate and mandolin player Joe Schrenk.
Ashlyn Maine explained that “The Foyer on Jordan lane near UAHuntsville is one of our favorite places to play.” Lead guitarist and singer Jake England went on to say that “there’s a great vibe and a really friendly crowd there. There’s always a welcoming group there that immediately makes you feel like friends.” The Foyer is home to Open Mic nights on Thursdays, and features headliner sets on Fridays. Speaking to the musical talent on display at The Foyer, banjo player Aaron Myers said “there’s a bunch of awesome talent in the area that start out there and move on to bigger things. Evan Rollett is one example of a regular at The Foyer who constantly amazes.”
The Foyer is located on 600 Jordan Lane near the UAHuntsville campus, and has become a favorite of the nearby college crowd. It also serves a great variety of coffee and desserts and is a great Huntsville location not to be missed.
Huntsville is home to not only great live music venues but also a generation of young and talented bands who can easily turn into the next Alabama Shakes. When you visit Huntsville, chances are you’ll not only find a lot of great live entertainment but also the next group that will be making big waves in the music scene.
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Daniel Horton is a lifelong geek, 2007 graduate of UAHuntsville with a degree in Communications, works at FDI as the Director of Marketing, mentors young musicians in the Huntsville area, and is the host of the local tech / entertainment podcast Rocktt. He is the co-founder of the UAHuntsville ChargerCon convention, and is on the UAHuntsville Alumni Board of Directors. Daniel is also married to Sharla Horton, the owner of Little Bit’s Vintage fashion truck.