Hootie & The Blowfish
With the rich, bluesy vocals of Darius Rucker and gleeful harmonies of guitarist Mark Bryan, bassist Dean Felber and drummer Jim “Soni” Sonefeld, Hootie & the Blowfish have sold over 25 million records worldwide to date after their infectious melodies hit the airwaves in 1994 with hits such as “Hold My Hand,” “Let Her Cry” and “Only Wanna Be With You.” The quartet met at the University of South Carolina where endless gigs at frat houses and local bars built a major local buzz. Their blend of pop, folk, blues, soul and rock made them hard to pigeonhole, but easily accessible to anyone who loved good music.
Atlantic Records, impressed by their regional draw, signed them and released Cracked Rear View in 1994. The album had been out for six months before the band played on the Late Show with David Letterman which sent sales skyrocketing, eventually landing at No. 1 on the Billboard chart the following spring. Cracked Rear View and the band went on to win two GRAMMY Awards, an MTV Video Music Award, a Billboard Music Award and multiple People’s Choice Awards. Cracked Rear View also earned the band Billboard‘s Band of the Year Award in 1996 and the RIAA’s Diamond Award for sales in excess of 10 million units. At 21x Platinum, Cracked Rear View remains among the Top 10 best-selling studio albums in music business history.
The band remained a top draw nationwide following their debut and released five more albums with Atlantic: Fairweather Johnson, Musical Chairs, Scattered, Smothered & Covered, Hootie & the Blowfish and The Best of Hootie & the Blowfish, as well as Looking For Lucky on their own Sneaky Long Records and LIVE in Charleston, The Homegrown Concert Event DVD and CD. The band took a break from full-time touring in 2007, reuniting annually for a variety of philanthropic events while also pursuing solo projects. 2019 marked the band’s first full-time touring year in over a decade as they embarked on the sold-out Group Therapy Tour in support of Imperfect Circle, released in late 2019 under a new record deal with Universal Music Group’s Capitol Nashville. The band is now preparing to head south for their first ever destination event, HootieFest: The Big Splash in Riviera Cancún, Mexico.
“Flip” leads ‘Detour de Force,’ Barenaked Ladies’ 16th studio album (OUT NOW) as the buoyant and sonically adventurous first single, which reflects the many flips and changes of the last year. Lead vocalist/guitarist Ed Robertson says the song “is about being open to other perspectives.” Following with standout tracks “New Disaster” and “Good Life,” ‘Detour de Force’ is BNL at its most ambitious, accomplished, intricate, intentional — and, in some ways, circumstantial. Its gestation was long and exacerbated (as so many things have been) by the global pandemic, and the scope of the resulting album is significantly different than what the group had in mind when it started. ‘Detour de Force’ is, in the end, a potent musical statement, a testament to time well-spent and an open spirit of following where the music leads.
Over the course of 33 years, the Toronto quartet has sold 15 million records worldwide and built up an arsenal of hits such as “If I Had $1,000,000,” “One Week,” “Pinch Me” and “The Big Bang Theory Theme.” Widely acknowledged as one of the best live acts on the planet, BNL has hosted a cruise, had its own ice cream flavor, won eight Juno Awards, and was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2018. As Ed Robertson, Jim Creeggan, Tyler Stewart and Kevin Hearn put it on ‘Good Life,’ “Wasn’t easy but it turned out alright/Wouldn’t trade it for another…You don’t wanna miss this mutha.”
Once upon a time (1987 to be exact), a group of guys jammed out blues in a garage somewhere in New Jersey. However, it took them 33 years to really do it again in the same way. In between, Blues Traveler made every boyhood rock ‘n’ roll dream come true. They burst onto the scene with a trio of gold-selling albums—Blues Traveler , Travelers and Thieves , and Save His Soul . Then in 1994, Four went six-times platinum and spawned the definitive “Run-Around,” which garnered a GRAMMY® Award in the category of “Best Rock Performance By a Duo or Group.” They logged another platinum album with Straight On Till Morning in 1998 and spent the next twenty years selling out shows on multiple continents.
“Blues Traveler is not just a band; it’s a lifestyle,” Chan leaves off. “Blues Traveler is our life’s work. It’s enabled us to do so many other things. This little tribe we built in New York during the late eighties has survived all the way through—plus or minus some dearly departed brothers and sisters. It’s empowered us to be creative, make people happy, and travel around spreading some good vibes. The longer we do it, the more we like it. Now, people know we can actually play the fucking blues too,” he laughs.
Toad the Wet Sprocket
Celebrating 30 years as a band, Toad the Wet Sprocket is still making music and touring with the same spirit of unwavering independence that started it all over three decades ago. The band is thankful for the continued help and enthusiastic support of their fans, which helped spur the release of All You Want and also serves as inspiration for the band to tour and play live. Toad the Wet Sprocket share in the kind of musical chemistry that can only come from meeting in high school and writing, recording and touring on albums over the course of time. After Bread & Circus, they followed with Pale in 1990, fear in ‘91, Dulcinea in 1994, and Coil in 1997, as well as various compilations along the way. While most will still feel the comforting familiarity of the Billboard-charting hits “Walk on the Ocean”, “All I Want”, “Something’s Always Wrong”, and “Fall Down”, fans will also be well familiar with tracks that resonate for so many lifelong milestones, like “The Moment” and “I Will Not Take These Things for Granted”.
Better Than Ezra
The best songs, records, and bands transport you back to the first moment you heard them each and every time they play. Whether you caught a house party gig after Better Than Ezra formed in 1988 at Louisiana State University, heard “Good” on the radio once it hit #1 during 1995, became a fan following Taylor Swift’s famous cover of “Breathless” in 2010, or saw them headlining sheds in 2018, you most likely never forgot that initial introduction to the New Orleans quartet founded by Kevin Griffin [lead vocals, guitar, piano] and Tom Drummond [bass, backing vocals]. Those hummable melodies, unshakable guitar riffs, and confessional lyrics quietly cemented the group as an enduring force in rock music. How many acts can boast being the inspiration of a classic Saturday Night Live skit? Very few.
Speaking of incredible accomplishments, they occupy rarified air with spots on Billboard’s “100 Greatest Alternative Songs of All Time” and “100 Greatest Alternative Artists of All Time” as of 2018. Additionally, 2018 also marked 25 years since the arrival of the breakthrough album Deluxe. Maintaining a steady pace forward, the new single “GRATEFUL” garnered acclaim from Billboard who praised its “highly commercial, anthemic sheen that certainly pairs nicely with the approach of Deluxe.” Better Than Ezra’s touring presence burgeoned year after year as the band sold out amphitheaters and arenas worldwide. A force of nature on stage, the group consistently deliver on tour as countless fans sing along to every word nightly. Their gigs further uphold a growing legend.
Celebrating 25 years of Deluxe in 2018, the guys reissued the record on double vinyl. Detailing the release, Forbes summed up the group’s influence beyond the nineties scene it helped define. The outlet wrote, “So many of that decade’s most influential, like supernovas, burned up fast… New Orleans alternative rock trio Better Than Ezra defied those odds.” In the end, you’ll never forget the songs on Deluxe or any other release from their discography—and that’s better than anything.
Thirty years. It’s an eternity in rock ‘n’ roll, and a marathon for the bands who fly its tattered flag. Revisit the class of 1988, and the casualties are piled high: a thousand bands that blew up and burnt out. In this chew-and-spit industry, the Spin Doctors are the last men standing, still making music like their lives depend on it, still riding the bus, still shaking the room. They’ve never been a band for backslaps and self-congratulation. Even now, plans are afoot for a seventh studio album and another swashbuckling world tour, adding to their tally of almost two thousand shows. But faced with that milestone, even a band of their velocity takes a breath for reflection. “I’d never have guessed,” admits drummer Aaron Comess, “this would have turned into thirty years of making great music together.”
Like all the best rock ‘n’ roll mythology, the final page of the Spin Doctors’ biography remains forever unwritten. But if the band’s story is to begin anywhere, it should be at New York’s New School university in the fall of ’88, when a fateful door-knock sparked the first meeting of Comess and guitarist Eric Schenkman. Trading as the Trucking Company, Schenkman, local legend John Popper and a charisma-bomb vocalist named Chris Barron had been making a glorious noise in the clubs downtown. But when Popper committed himself to Blues Traveler, the remnants sought new blood. Having assured Schenkman that he’d “check them out,” Comess formed a ferocious rhythm section with Bronx-raised bassist Mark White. “When I first met them,” recalls White, “I thought, ‘These are some funky-assed white boys.’ I’m the black guy in the band, and they had to teach me to play the blues.”
Thirty years. A thousand twists. But whatever happens down the road, rest assured that the Spin Doctors will always be the last men standing, still making music like their lives depend on it, still riding the bus, still shaking the room. “It’s been a great ride,” considers Comess. Then he adds: “So far…”
Toadies have more than 25 years, countless shows and seven studio albums behind them. The Rubberneck track “Possum Kingdom” appeared on Guitar Hero 2 and was featured in a Beavis and Butthead episode. They have played Lollapalooza and ACL, graced the cover of Marvel Comics, released five signature beers with Martin House Brewing, a signature coffee with Full City Rooster, and have even had a “Toadies Day” declared by their hometown of Fort Worth, Texas.
What’s next? Toadies have enlisted Steve Albini to record their eighth studio album. Bassist Doni Blair refers to Albini as a “bucket list producer.” Guitarist Clark Vogeler adds “There are records in each of our collections that were recorded by him which mean the world to us. The sound he brought to records like The Pixies’ Surfer Rosa, and PJ Harvey’s Rid of Me, capture the feeling of being in a room with a band while they play (quite loudly, it would appear). A personal fave, Wedding Present’s Seamonsters saved me in a way that no other record has. The emotion of the songs just pours out of the speakers. His recordings of bands are honest; there’s not much in the way of Pro Tools fixing (he records to tape) or studio trickery (no autotune in sight!). It’s mostly just a band in a room with microphones, playing the songs, and that appeals to us at this point. We’ve always felt like we could deliver live, so why not record the band live?”
Originating from Gainesville, FL, Sister Hazel is comprised of five gifted, seasoned musicians whose well-spring of natural talent has been called “one of the Top 100 Most Influential Independent Performers of the last 15 years” by Performing Songwriter Magazine. Song “All for You” topped the adult alternative charts during the summer of 1997 and the success propelled their album to platinum status. In their first showing on the country music charts they made a strong debut with “Lighter In The Dark” at #4 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart, #6 on Billboard’s Independent Albums chart, #30 on Billboard’s Top Current Albums chart.
Sister Hazel has since made their Grand Ole Opry debut and shared the stages with country music superstars at The CMA Festival and Tortuga Music Festival, among others. In addition to annual events and touring, the band also gives back with “Lyrics For Life” which unites musicians and celebrities for concerts and auctions to benefit cancer research and patient-care charities.
Drivin N Cryin
Celebrating their 35th Anniversary together, Atlanta-based folk rock act, Drivin N Cryin, have spent most of their career on tour. In October 1985 Drivin N Cryin played their first show at Atlanta’s famed 688 Club. The band quickly gained attention for their blistering live shows, and amassed a rabid fanbase in the fertile soil of the late 1980s Southeast music scene.
Now, 35 years later, and after releasing four full-length albums on Island Records and one on Geffen Records, founding members Kevn Kinney and Tim Nielsen find themselves enjoying a milestone anniversary for the band, having survived the pressures of fame, a shifting musical landscape, multiple lineup changes, and miles of back roads and highways to arrive here.
A quote from the band’s lead singer, Kevn Kinney, gives a little insight into what Drivin N Cryin is all about: “We are a band that’s like your record collection”. Drawing influence from a wide array of musical elements, Drivin N Cryin has developed a unique sound over the years. Their name derives from the eclectic nature of this sound: a little drvin’ rock n roll and a little country twang. Comfortable with their past and confident in their future, the band as an arsenal of songs, a full tank of gas and no plans of stopping any time soon.