There we were on a Sunday afternoon in the suburbs of Atlanta, Woodstock Ga to be exact, enjoying a showcase of diverse local talent and southern style food with a signature twist. What a wonderful thing to be able to do. It reminded me of how much fun we used to have in the “good old days” of double matinees except this was much better with four bands. In a time where, sadly, many live music venues are having to shut their doors (get out and support live music !!) along comes MadLIfe Stage and Studios. MadLife Stage and Studios is far from your typical live dining venue especially Outside The Perimeter of Interstate 285. Key features include: concert lighting, sound and full music hall stage, a music only focused hall with a balcony, 2 bars, zero tv’s and an amazing menu headed by Chef David Berry.
The kitchen uses local farm to table ingredients when possible. My friend Amy and I tried MadLife’s signature Fried Green Tomatoes topped with candied pecans, local goat cheese and Comeback Sauce. This was a mean that I can’t recommend enough. Many things contribute to Madlife’s continued growth in popularity including the outstanding venue and menu. One other is their understanding of what is drawing these days aside from popular local artists: High-Quality Tribute Bands.
MadLife puts on a few cover bands every week. This afternoon’s performances were all about original local artistry brought to us by Lucy Pillar of ARN. Proud Discloser: Many of the musicians performing that day are very close personal friends, several who I’ve been fortunate enough to play with. Music in order of appearance: Andrew Black Band, Cure My Enemy, Alan Vaughn Band and the Barry Richman Band.
Andrew Black Band: Vocals/Guitar Andrew Black, Keyboards: Esh (Jim Eshelman) Bass: Greg High, Drums: Jason LaMarca (kind of drummer that makes me want to practice) Collectively these guys have played with several National acts and the ABB is a local favorite. Today’s set list combined hard driving originals with the type of feel changes I love, traditional blues rock and fan favorites such as Andrew’s soulful take on “In the Ghetto”. You know performers are doing their job when one minute you’re pumped up from volume and power and the next you could hear a pin drop in the crowd during a beautiful emotional delivery.
Cure My Enemy: Vocals: Colt Coates, Lead Guitar: Mason Coates, Drums: Ronnie Collier Jr Bass, Bass: Dwayne Jones, Backing singers: Naomi Nicole, Tyler Molton
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This 6 piece band was entirely new to me. I asked manager Lucy Pillar how she describes their style, “Cure my Enemy” has deep grooves and a hint of raw spirituality…” I agree with that. I could tell the songwriting was personal and always enjoy when a writer explains a bit of where the inspiration came from as Colt did. Several tunes had an edgy alternative feel that I enjoyed and it’s always an extra dimension to the music when a group has talented backing singers on stage.
Alan Vaughn Band: Vocals/guitar: Alan Vaughn, Lead Guitar: George Price, Bass: Jonathan Steele, Drums: Jim “Ringo” Miller
Alan is known around our area for his “Big Chicken Beatles Band” Beatles tribute. Today they were the Alan Vaughn Band as not all the members performing are members of the BCBB. Alan and Company gave us the “crowd participation set” of the afternoon with a fun rocking set list of 60s and 70’s favorites from Beatles to other stars of the day including a good bit of the “Abbey Road” album, they sounded great. I don’t think they did one tune the crowd didn’t sing along with or got excited about and even did something I’m not sure I’ve ever heard from a local artist before…a Bee Gees cover which my friend Amy couldn’t scream and cheer loud enough for (Bee Gee’s are totally underrated by the “cool” crowd IMHO) Alan is one hardworking cat on stage and it was great to hear/see veteran George Price up there with him bringing his lead guitar touch and intensity.
“A staple of Atlanta music” is only one of the ways Barry is known here in Atlanta and one of my all-time favorite guitarists. He gets the title not only due to chops, stage presence, writing and complexity his authentic depth and transparent emotional playing is way up there with the best of them. There’s no mistaking him for the real deal. I don’t have enough space this time to list or write about everyone he has played with, his musical roots, accomplishments, how I learned about his Gold Record (thanks Lex) or his vintage guitar collection…so please visit his website for that and more. One question so many ask before any Barry RIchman Band set is, “Which guitar are you playing tonight?” Answer: for this show a vintage 1952 Gold Top which sounded as good as you’d imagine. Sunday’s set was extra fun with the guys doing a few tunes I hadn’t heard them do before and several of my favorite originals, “Floodwaters”, “White Trash TV” and “Scandal”. I know every time I see Barry RIchman Band there’s the “always column” as follows: ripping emotional stereo guitar, intensity, strong vocals, rockin’ instrumentals and a catalog of original blues rock fusion found on his CD’s. All wrapped up with Barry’s well known ability and instantly recognizable “tone” to musicians, he’s one of the truly nicest guys around.