Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased tracks, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday we offer songs by local artists. Today’s selection, featured on the Morning Show with John Richards, is “Hold On” by Alabama Shakes from their self-released, self-titled 2011 album.
Hailing from Athens, Alabama, where there might not be much to do between getting drunk or starting a band Alabama Shakes formed two years ago when Heath Fogg wanted Brittany Howard to open a set for his own band. Howard, lyricist and vocalist of steel called on everyone she knew, and recruited Steve Johnson and Zac Cockrell, and then, Fogg to be that band. This one-time, thrown-together foursome kept playing together after that. Like it was natural to do so.
Influenced by the songs they grew up hearing, and big fans of the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio that has launched legendary recordings from Wilson Pickett, and Aretha Franklin, Alabama Shakes created a sound that beckoned the revival of soul — deeper than Motown, rawer than rhythm and blues. Brittany Howard leads the pack, evoking a timeless sense of depth with the energy of youth.
Booking shows around the state after that fateful first gig, they quickly caught the ear of Aquarium Drunkard, blogger and Sirius Satellite Radio show host, who wanted to feature them on his show. Alabama Shakes was getting national recognition and caught the ear of Athens, Georgia-based Drive By Truckers. Soon enough, the Shakes were getting invited to open several shows for the Truckers.
Right now, they’re still shaking up the South with their live shows and are headed up the East Coast for the remainder of the year, but keep an eye on their Facebook page for more tour dates closer to the PNW and for other happenings. For now, here they are performing today’s featured song live at Pegasus Records in Florence, Alabama: