Category Archives: Pilgrims Profiles

Laura Reed and Deep Pocket

lrdp1.jpgWhen you look at the childhood of Laura Reed, and the time spent growing up both in South Africa and the rich, cultural American South, there is no wonder that this special young lady has a unique talent.  She has a sultry stage presence that's only outdone by her soulful pipes.

Backed by a groove laden band, Deep Pocket, Laura and her boys churn out a great mix of R&B, soul, and straight ahead funk.  Ryan Burns knows his way around the keys, offering piano, Hammond and synth to the band's sound.  He is joined by Ben Didelot on bass, combining with his rhythm partner, Jimbonk behind the kit, to create a solid foundation for some backbreaking funk.  

They have shared the stage with a diverse range of artists – the list includes the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Sam Bush and Ike Stubblefield – which proves there is certainly more than one dimension to their music. They seem to adapt to the musical space that surrounds them.

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Samantha Stollenwerck

Pillgrim: n
1. One who embarks on a quest for something conceived of as sacred.
2. A traveler.
3. Your guide to the freshest faces in grass-roots music.
A knee injury when she was 16 that confined her to the couch for two months served to be the unlikely catalyst for Samantha Stollenwerck’s musical career.  While couch-ridden her mother gave her a guitar and that, combined with the countless Sublime shows she saw as teen and a Black Crowes set that introduced her to Chris Robinson's passionate singing, helped develop her self-described “Cali-Soul” sound.

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How can a band that is over 15 years old and eight albums deep into their career be included in a section that deals with new bands? 

For Clutch, hailing from Germantown, Maryland, they can be included in this section because while they have legions of devoted fans and seem to constantly pop onto critics' "best of" lists, they seem to purposely stay away from the spotlight.  Instead choosing to remain that small cult-favorite. 

But that may all change in a few day, as they will be exposed to an entirely new fan base when they bring their brand of heavy, blues-based rock to the stage in hot, sweltering Manchester, Tennessee at Bonnaroo.

Formed in 1991 by Neil Fallon (vocals, guitar), Tim Sult (guitar), Dan Maines (bass), and Jean-Paul Gaster (drums), Clutch has kept their original line-up together since then, the only change being the recent addition of Mick Schauer (organ) in 2005.  Originally they started as a metal act, but quickly began to evolve their sound, moving from the hardcore stomp of Transnational Speedway League and Impetus, to the more blues based sound of their most recent albums. 

Their latest release, From Beale Street to Oblivion, echoes the long history of the blues that calls Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee home, with its deep soulful licks and down-home outlaw rock riffs.  This does not mean that they now play with any less ferocity or rage than they used to; it has just evolved into a thoughtful intensity. 

This intensity may still scare some in hippie nation though.  Fallon’s insightful and thought-provoking lyrics cover everything from history to mythology to social concerns, adding a nice contrast to the inspired groove they lay down.

Thinking of taking a walk over to catch their set at Bonnaroo, but unsure what to expect, or perhaps a bit scared or intimated by the band’s perceived ferocity? 

Don’t be. 

Think of the North Mississippi All-Stars waking up on the wrong side of the bed and spending the entire day with a gigantic chip on their shoulder, and you should begin to understand where Clutch is coming from. 

As lead singer Fallon says, “Musically, we’ve become much more of a rock ‘n’ roll band now, as opposed to being a metal or hardcore one.  Our style is riff oriented, with a swing.  It’s never been a calculated move; we just followed our instinct, and that is leading us closer to those bands to whom we listened to in our childhood.  Bands which are now termed ‘classic rock’.”   

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Big City Sunrise

Big City Sunrise

Sautee Nacooche, Georgia 

With the hope that their music can create a sense of community and make everyone feel at home, Big City Sunrise uses their bluegrass-tinted, foot-stomping mountain funk to further this ideal. 

Playing with the belief that a “pure, youthful enjoyment of music will create a fulfilling atmosphere for both audience and musician,” Big City Sunrise takes every opportunity on stage to play with unbridled emotion and energy.

Guitarist Chris Thacker says, “We love to play, we love to listen, and we love to watch others play.  It is our passion, it is our outlet, it is our playground.  We have a blast creating music together, and even more fun performing on stage.”

Formed in 2003 when Thacker, Doug Meads (guitar, harmonica), Jeff Bynum (violin, lap steel), Adam Kahn (bass), Sam Steele (percussion), and Kevin Rainwater (drums) came together over fried catfish and a couple of cases of beer to do, in their words, “a little pickin’ and grinnin’.”  A few hours later they realized they had a bond both musically and personally, and Big City Sunrise was born.




Since then they have found time to release two albums, Daybreak in 2004 and Live at the Georgia Theatre in 2006.

They recently spent time in the studio with producer John Keane, (Widespread Panic, R.E.M. and the Indigo Girls,) finishing up their third album for a spring 2007 release.  The new album looks to continue to incorporate a wide range of elements from many genres into the Big City Sunrise sound, with the idea that it will “keep it interesting for the listener as well as keeping it interesting for us, the players.” 

Their new album is sure to be full of the bouncy, vibrant homegrown music that the band has become known for, yet at the same time it is sure to include an ever-expanding range of influences and styles – a bluegrass shuffle, a honky-tonk backbeat, a hip-hop breakdown. 

As Thacker says, “We enjoy stylistic diversity and try to create pieces of music that embrace the moods of each song, treating each of them as individual pieces of art.”

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The Black Angels

The Black Angels

Austin , Texas


Austin, Texas’ the Black Angels launch rock and roll into a stratospheric new direction.  Utilizing walls of sonic sound, The Black Angels sound very much like a modern day The Doors (more so than The Doors of the 21st Century).  Alex Maas plays bass and leads the group on its’ psychedelic voyage with his eerie vocals.   Live, you never know who is playing bass or guitar as Maas, Christian Bland, Nate Ryan and Kyle Hunt all interchange instruments, taking on each. 


The constant on stage is Stephanie Bailey behind the kit.  She doesn’t change instruments, or intentions.  Throughout the whole album and during live performances, she rages behind the drum kit, pouring her all into the rhythm.  Bailey’s energy is only outdone by the massive swell of distorted guitars and thundering bass.  The colossal wall of guitar is accented by Jennifer Raines’ freaked out work on the drone machine.


Their recent release Passover may be one of the most shamefully overlooked albums of 2006.  Full of psychedelic rock and roll and artistic studio work, it captures the essence of a powerful band blurring the lines of the 60’s and today.


The Black Angels will be touring Europe this spring, but will surely make big waves this summer stateside during the festival season. 


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