Alamantra Band Bio by Bobby Shiflett
I've read more “how to” guides on writing band bios than any person probably should. One of the first rules is to write it in third person. Another is to tell the band's story in a page or less. …So much for the rules.
My name is Bobby Shiflett and I’m writing this “bio” to tell you about our band, Alamantra. I do this hoping that you will listen to our music and find a place for it in your life. The band bio is supposed to persuade a reviewer, club owner, booking agent or listener to become interested in the band. To do this, the bio writer is supposed to describe who or what the artist/band is, and what is unique and so on. The task of writing band bios has been reduced to a point where there are services that will write one based on a questionnaire. There's even a "band bio generator." I couldn’t bring myself to do any of that; so I am tasked with describing to you, dear reader, what Alamantra is and why you should be interested ...the old-fashioned way.
I’m going to begin with three things that “Alamantra” is not:
Alamantra is not for everybody. In the world of marketing this would appear to be a counter-intuitive statement; but marketing isn’t based on truth or integrity. In our view, music is …or should be… a wholesome, honest experience. Music is intimate and when a listener partakes of an artist’s work, a relationship is created.
Like any other band, we want to find a market for our music. Still, our songs were never written just to make a buck. Otherwise, you would have probably heard of Alamantra a long time ago.
Alamantra does not fit neatly into a pigeon-hole. The closest would probably be “American Traditional Rock” …but only if you're willing to accept that rock traditionally has a jaded, jagged side. It isn’t perfect, and it isn’t supposed to be. Alamantra pays homage to a broad range of sounds: classic & psychedelic rock, blues, groove, folk-rock and so on. There is a shameless sense of nostalgia in Alamantra’s work and we don’t play any music that doesn’t inspire us.
Alamantra is not a “new” band. We are dedicated, seasoned musicians who are comfortable with our musical chemistry. We’ve been doing this awhile.
Alamantra began in Birmingham, Alabama in 2000. Rather, that was the year the music stopped changing its brand name every few years. I had begun using the name, Alamantra, as early as 1995, for an online persona. The general meaning is derived from Ala (Latin for “wing” ) + mantra or “prayer.” “Alamantra” is a play on the phrase “a wing and a prayer;” which is certainly an apt description of how we’re all still here. Though I’ve heard several people pronounce the name, Ala –mon- tra, we pronounce it, Ala –man- tra.
Meet the band
Over the years many wonderful Birmingham musicians have contributed to this endeavor and its predecessors. The same is true with our most recent recorded effort, “Workingman’s Bread,” (I’d be failing, as a promoter, if I didn’t point you to it this instant: http://alamantra.org/wmb ). Workingman's Bread draws its inspiration from a spirit of collaboration and features some of the incredible talent that Birmingham has to offer (see credits on http://alamantra.org/wmb). Brad Timko produced Workingman’s Bread and did such an incredible job that we could hardly believe our ears. We’re honored and humbled that such amazing people have cared enough about this music over the years to put their time, energy and talent into it.
In addition to me, the current lineup features:
Steve Casteel: Guitar.
Steve comes from a musical family and grew up in the Florence/Muscle Shoals area. While growing up, he spent time in the studios around the area and sharpened his chops in touring bands like Radio Tokyo. He has hung out, roomed and played with people like Rob Malone (Fiddleworms, Drive-by Truckers). Steve is an intuitive, fluid guitarist, who is easy to play with. We've been jamming together in one thing or another since the mid 1990s. Alamantra’s secret ingredient is in the nearly seamless weaving of the guitars and Steve makes this possible.
Brandon Allison: Drums.
Alamantra’s original drummer was my brother, Ken Shiflett. He had played with the band since its official debut in 2000, and well beyond that back to 1993. In 2009 he scaled back his participation, though he occasionally sits in on percussion.
The drums are the heartbeat of any band, and it took a while for Alamantra to find a new heart for its ancient spirit. In Brandon Allison we found just that. At 32, Brandon is the youngest member of the band. Brandon, with his easy-going demeanor and pocket drumming, has breathed new life into the band.
Rick Glaze: Bass, Vocals.
Andrew ‘Drew’ Reid had played bass for Alamantra (and earlier projects) since 1993. When he left in 2009, it created a space in Alamantra that proved challenging to fill. We went through over a dozen talented musicians in the attempt. Finally we found
Rick Glaze. Rick is a gifted, experienced bass player and a strong vocalist. Though he is laid back and possessed with an indispensable sense of humor, he has stepped into the work with purpose, made it his own, been a real team player and taken on a lot of the vocals…for which the rest of us are grateful.
Though the term "indie" has been reduced to being a misnomer, Alamantra truly is an indie band. From the beginning, it has been built on a DIY ethic. In 2003, Alamantra helped to organize and present a series of shows in the Birmingham area to raise money and awareness for RAINN. (Rape, Abuse, Incest, National Network).
In addition to Workingman’s Bread, Alamantra has released three other cds: Nu 2 U in 2000 (out of print), Alamantra: 2004 (out of print), and By Turns in 2009 (out of print, scheduled to be reissued in Fall of 2012). Alamantra’s instrumental surf rock song, Surf Babe (By Turns) has been featured more than once on German National Television …Wir warten immer noch auf die Lizenzgebühren, meine guten Freunde.
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