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Take a detour onto Arkadelphia

08.15.2008 by André Natta · → Leave a comment

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Arkadelphia - Photo by Jolyn Picard If you’re looking to chill out and enjoy some good old fashion rock and roll in the process, check out Speakeasy tonight. Here’s what happened with Whitney got together with the members of the headlining band for tonight’s show, Arkadelphia:

Growing up on the outskirts of the Western metro, I am very very familiar with Arkadelphia Road. For most folks, it means Birmingham Southern College, a corridor to Memphis and miles and miles of the country scenery Alabama is known for, but for me it’s home.

Same goes for the newest bassist for local band Arkadelphia, Justin. He’s a native of Curry (My kid sis is #31 for the Lady Jackets basketball team!) and was an excellent translator of my thick accent when I met up with him and the two founding members of Arkadelphia Wednesday night. Lead singer and guitarist Lee Baines III grew on Birmingham’s Southside and knows a thing or two about classic soul, country and rock & roll.  I don’t just say that, it’s in his voice. The southern hospitality, the white tee and cowboy boots and the Jerry Lee Lewis-esque swagger that he emits during performance is all very Alabama, in the best way possible. Drummer Ra-Jaan Parmely has been calling Birmingham home since his transplant from Sacramento, California eleven years ago. All of these guys are legendary in town for being vital players for bands like Duquette Johnston‘s Rebel Kings, Model Citizen, Dan Sartain‘s band and the Grenadines.

I haven’t been as giddy about a band within such a short time frame as I’ve become for these guys. After watching them perform 5 songs from their upcoming album, I was genuinely surprised that I was so into them after only one listen. They are studio polished, but this was just a rehearsal space near the railyards. I honestly couldn’t get over the fact that I was hearing Steve Earle singing for the Strokes, early Stones or possibly even (pray and ye shall receive) a Southern version of the Police. Maybe those comparisons aren’t fair enough. The pop element is completely nonexistent from these guys, but they can pull it off. They’ve “forsaken fashion for familiarity” and it is working for them. Song titles such as ‘Avondale’, ‘Goodbye Birmingham’ and another song with a reference to Greensprings Ave would probably make me nauseous from just about any other band, but not Arkadelphia.

These guys may be young, but they are seasoned vets of playing GOOD music live. They’ll be at Speakeasy tonight playing lots and lots of songs not available to hear on MySpace, but soon to be heard on their LP Can’t Get Right.

Photo credit: Jolyn Picard

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