Once again, electrifying vocals, brilliant tunes from brass instruments and energetic musicians will thrill Alexander City residents and visitors with two nights of dynamic music at the Alexander City Jazz Fest June 14 and 15.
Three bands will take the stage in Strand Park in downtown Alexander City on Friday evening when thousands of concertgoers find their spots on the grass to socialize with friends and take in the beats. The free concert begins at 6 p.m. with local favorite, The Bank Walkers. At 7:30 p.m., 25-year old Sam Burchfield and his band, The Scoundrels, will take the stage. The headliner will be Willie Sugarcapps, a five-piece band from Alabama.
Sponsors and businesses have the option to decorate tables that are judged on design. This has been a long-standing tradition at the Strand Park night of Jazz Fest.
The next day transports the fun to the Lake Martin Amphitheater, with its scenic views. Nikki and The Phantom Callers kick off the show at 6 p.m. with Southern Gothic rock ‘n’ roll. The lead vocalist is a Dadeville native.
Empire Strikes Brass will have the audience on their feet with their vivacious and funky beats. At 9 p.m., the headliner will close out the show. Honey Island Swamp Band has been tagged as a Bayou Americana-style band.
The planning and music selection typically takes months and is a collaborative effort. The committee is constantly trying to bring in well-known names, along with introducing the community to lesser-known stars.
An art contest is held each year to determine the promotional design, which changes annually. Also, student artwork is submitted, which is then on display Friday night during Jazz Fest. T-shirts with the chosen design will be on sale both nights and are available online.
For more information about Alexander City Jazz Fest, visit alexcityjazzfest.com.
June 14: Strand Park, Alexander City
The Bank Walkers 6 p.m.
This five-man band is made up of Lake Martin area residents and is well known to locals. They’ve been together for eight years and perform cover songs of outlaw country, Southern rock and classic rock. A variety of ages and demographics can appreciate the style and tunes from The Bank Walkers. Member of the band include Steve Forehand, Roger Holliday, David Sturdivant, Brian Bice and Mark Tucker.
Sam Burchfield and The Soundrels 7:30 p.m.
At just 25 years old, Sam Burchfield traverses genres to generate music from folk to funk to Southern soul with his band of Scoundrels. The group is from Atlanta, Georgia, and they have toured the Southeast opening for names that include St. Paul & The Broken Bones and Ben Rector. The lyrical depth of the band’s music is paired with soulful vocal delivery and catchy melodies. The audience will be sure to enjoy this electrifying performance.
Willie Sugarcapps 9 p.m.
This team of musicians originated during a series of casual Southern Alabama songwriter jam sessions. Willie Sugarcapps’ collaboration of songwriting expertise inspired its 2013 album, which won Americana Album of the Year by Independent Music Association and Southland Music Line’s Artists of the Year in 2014. This Americana band features striking harmonies and has toured throughout the U.S. with Emmylou Harris, Jimmy Buffet, Neil Young, Steve Winwood and others. Sugarcane Jane, featuring married performing duo Anthony Crawford and Savana Lee, combine with Will Kimbrough, Grayson Capps and Corky Hughes to round out the full ensemble of Willie Sugarcapps.
June 15: The AMP, Eclectic
Nikki & the Phantom Callers 6 p.m.
Dadeville native Nikki Speake returns home to perform at Lake Martin Amphitheater. She’s been writing songs since she was 16 and also is a member of Midnight Larks and Shantih Shantih. The group out of Atlanta is a self-proclaimed Southern Gothic rock ‘n’ roll outfit mixed with a honky-tonk style. “Fire and brimstone with subtle rebellion,” is the captive description straight off its website. The alternative country, indie-rock Phantom Callers features Aaron Mason on lead guitar, Russell Owens on drums and Anna Kramer on bass and back-up vocals. Their six-track album was done in 24 hours – one day to record and one night to mix it.
Empire Strikes Brass 7:30 p.m.
This brass-funk band from Asheville, North Carolina, was founded in 2012 and features Grammy-award winner Debrissa McKinney on vocals. Rooted in high-energy New Orleans brass band tradition of deep-moving grooves, Empire Strikes Brass performs complex musical arrangements with thoughtful lyrical structure. The musicians fuse sounds from various genres with the common thread of brass instrumentals. The band has been a consistent fixture at festivals throughout the East Coast and is known to parade off stage into the audience leading the crowd into a procession. Lenny Pettinelli plays keyboard; Paul Juhl plays saxophone and Kyle Snuffer and Alex Bradley make up the horn section. Their debut album, Theme for a Celebration, was released in 2017.
Honey Island Swamp Band 9 p.m.
To close out the weekend, the Bayou Americana-themed Honey Island Swamp Band will provide powerful lyrics and diverse tunes. The group formed in San Francisco, after Hurricane Katrina displaced its founding members from New Orleans. These emotional stories are channeled through the band’s soulful style. They have been likened to blues-roots-rock artists such as The Allman Brothers, Little Feat and The Band. Producer/musician Luther Dickinson captures their rhythm. Honey Island Swamp Band has toured internationally, and its 10th anniversary album, Demolition Day, was released with 11 old school, authentic sounding tunes. The band is made up of Aarson Wilkinson on mandolin, guitar, harmonica and vocals; Chris Mulé on guitar and vocals; Sam Price on bass and vocals; Garland Paul on drums and vocals and Trevor Brooks on keyboard.