Alabama Shakes – live At Down The Rabbit Hole 2015 – July 27, 2015 – VPRO/3VOOR12 – Netherlands
Alabama Shakes tonight – recorded at Down The Rabbit Hole on July 27, 2015 for Netherlands Radio.
Alabama Shakes formed in Athens, Alabama, in 2009. The band maintained a consistent lineup of lead singer and guitarist Brittany Howard, guitarist Heath Fogg, bassist Zac Cockrell, and drummer Steve Johnson. The group rose to prominence in the early 2010s and has sold over 1.5 million albums in the US.
Brittany Howard grew up interested in music, filling notebooks with lyrics and teaching herself to play drums, bass, and guitar. Howard, from East Limestone High School, played in multiple bands growing up that helped to formulate and craft her taste in music. Her most serious band in her early years was Kerosene Swim Team, a rock band that consisted of Owen Whitehurst and Jonathan Passero. They went on to have a single titled “Coffins and Cadillacs” featured on a compilation track from now defunct indie label Volital Records. They would practice daily after school in Passero’s garage, Whitehurst’s garage, and Howard’s house. They mainly played house parties, and their songs consisted of a mix of covers and originals penned by Howard. Both Whitehurst and Passero went on to continue playing backup for Howard, with Whitehurst playing with Howard and Shakes’ bassist Zac Cockrell in what would eventually become The Shakes. Whitehurst would play drums and piano, with Howard and Cockrell playing their current respective instruments.
The group made its live debut in May 2009 under the name “The Shakes.” Fogg, by this point a guitarist in the Tuscaloosa-based Tuco’s Pistol, invited the group to open for his band at Brick Deli & Tavern in Decatur. The band was nervous to perform for an audience, as they felt “vulnerable.” Their set included covers of Led Zeppelin, James Brown, Otis Redding, and AC/DC. The show went over well, and Fogg soon joined the group. During this time the band members held other day jobs: Howard as a fry cook and then a postal worker, Johnson at the Browns Ferry Nuclear Power Plant, Cockrell at an animal clinic, and Fogg painting houses. For much of their early years, the Shakes performed shows on weekends at “sports bars and country dives.” They also began recording their debut album at Tokic’s Bomb Shelter—the home of producer Andrija Tokic—in Nashville, funding the recordings themselves. The band chose Tokic’s over other studios because they recorded mostly live to tape, and they believed it would spur a livelier performance. The band would complete arrangements in their hometown and drive an hour and a half north to Nashville to record in intervals over the course of 2011.
In 2018, the band went on hiatus due to Howard’s focus on her solo project Jaime, which led to a solo tour in 2019. In June 2020, guitarist Heath Fogg released his debut solo project under the name Sun on Shade.
If you missed them the first time around, or are waiting for them to regroup and head back in the studio and out on the road, here is a taste of what they were all about in 2015, during a particularly fruitful and productive period for the band.
It is suggested you crank this gig up.