Col. Bruce & The Quark Alliance
The Downtown Tavern
September 17, 2010
Perhaps Col. Bruce said it best when he stated, "I am old son. There are only three things that I am not burnt on: peace, quiet, and music." Whether he is telling a story of being beaten on the football field opposite of Joe Namath or relaying a tale about about some asshole in the music business, Col. Bruce Hampton, Ret. is perhaps one of the greatest story tellers to ever live. His quips are relentlessly humorous and surprisingly true. From one random word from a person he is engaging, Bruce can go on for as long as he wishes with the listener never losing attention. Maybe it is his past as a military man where the ability to communicate with whichever bunkee he slept beside was of utmost importance. Maybe it is the fact that he has bumped elbows and broken bread with everyone from Billy Bob Thornton to Bobby Weir. Whatever the case is, when he speaks, people listen. It is worth noting that the Colonel was not always going to play music. "In his day," he says, "playing music was a fairy thing to do. A boy was supposed to play ball. I only wish that I would have learned to play the piano," he continues. Piano or not he has ammassed a music career that that has spanned nearly a half century- and has now become a living legend of sorts.
On this night Col. Bruce would bring his Quark Alliance to a small bar in Gadsden, AL, The Downtown Tavern, where a little more than fifty people would bear witness to an authenticity that is all too often missing in this day and age of Jam. With a stripped down setup, The Alliance would offer some of the most exquisitely loose improv that can be served and did so in a manner that would make those with pedal boards that resemble the giant piano, that Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia chop-sticked on in the movie "Big," simply scratch their heads. His guitar told the stories that his southern voice could not, and his band provided the perfect fill for an evening that was laced with everything from wistfulness to becoming lost in the moment.