Highball is a two-day festival experience curated by Athens, GA rock juggernauts Futurebirds and produced by Rival Entertainment. This inaugural event will feature notable artist performances, locally renowned food, and a distinctive live experience alongside the railroad tracks of the historic Pullman Yards.
Band of Horses, The Head and the Heart, Futurebirds, Wednesdsay, The Whigs, Seratones, S.G. Goodman, T. Hardy Morris, Hotel Fiction
Band of Horses
Band of Horses’ sixth album and first record in more than five years. Sonically, the album is a return to their earlier work and the kind of raw ethos that lies at the heart of Band of Horses. Emotionally intense, both on a personal and elemental level, on Things Are Great we find band founder Ben Bridwell more autobiographical than he’s ever been on record detailing the nebulous frustrations and quiet indignities of relationship changes and what a person will do to make things right.
The Head and the Heart
2022 has been a busy year for The Head And The Heart. The acclaimed Seattle band released their fifth studio album, ‘Every Shade of Blue’, headlined sold-out shows all over North America on their Every Shade of Blue 2022 North American Tour, and performed multiple times on national television, everywhere from The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon to performing at the championship banner drop for The Seattle Sounders.
Every Shade of Blue was produced by GRAMMY-award winning songwriter, producer and engineer Jesse Shatkin (Sia, Pink, The Shins, Tegan and Sara) except for album tracks “Shadows”, “Don’t Show Your Weakness” and “Love We Make” which were produced by Andrew Sarlo (Big Thief, Wet), and “Paradigm”, produced by John Hill and Sammy Witte (Florence + The Machine, Portugal The Man, Cage The Elephant), and mastered by Emily Lazar and Chris Allgood at The Lodge, NY.
Initially self-released in 2011, The Head And The Heart’s self-titled breakout debut produced instant classics including “Rivers and Roads,” “Down in the Valley” and “Lost in My Mind” (#1 at AAA) and is now certified Gold. 2013’s Let’s Be Still and 2016’s Signs of Light settled into the top 10 of The Billboard 200 album chart, with Signs of Light securing the #1 position on Rock Album Charts, scoring the band’s first #1 at Alternative radio with “All We Ever Knew” and also holding the #1 spot at AAA for nine straight weeks. The band’s fourth full-length album, Living Mirage, was released to critical praise in 2019. “Missed Connection” reached the #1 position on the Alternative Chart as well as the Mediabase and BDS alternative charts, after having already achieved #1 on the AAA chart. The album’s breakout track, “Honeybee,” became a fan favorite with 153M+ total global streams and 1M+ global weekly streams. The Head And The Heart have appeared in Cameron Crowe’s Roadies, and their music has been featured in countless other commercials, films and TV, among them Corona, Silver Linings Playbook and more. The band is a touring powerhouse, having landed prime-time mainstage slots at Coachella, Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits. The Head And The Heart has performed 18 times on national television, including appearances on Ellen, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, Austin City Limits, CBS Saturday Morning and more. Every Shade of Blue is the band’s fifth studio album.
Rock juggernaut Futurebirds’ newest EP, Bloomin’ Too, is a benchmark that not only celebrates 13 years together, it’s also a testament to the sheer iron will of a group of musicians hungry for the fruits of its labor.
“Futurebirds is the best it’s been right now, far and away,” says singer/guitarist Carter King. “We’ve been unintentionally carving out our own space since the beginning, since we never exactly fit in anywhere else musically. We were always too indie rock for the jam festival, too country for the indie scene, a little too psych-rock to feel like we were Americana. The music over the years just kind of created its own weird little ecosystem — it’s thriving and it feels great.”
The Athens, Georgia-based group once again tapped storied My Morning Jacket guitarist/producer Carl Broemel in the latest chapter of this seamless, bountiful partnership that initially came to fruition with the 2021 EP, Bloomin’.
A Wednesday song is a quilt. A short story collection, a half-memory, a patchwork of portraits of the American south, disparate moments that somehow make sense as a whole. Karly Hartzman, the songwriter/vocalist/guitarist at the helm of the project, is a story collector as much as she is a storyteller: a scholar of people and one-liners. Rat Saw God, the Asheville quintet’s new and best record, is ekphrastic but autobiographical and above all, deeply empathetic. Across the album’s ten tracks Hartzman, guitarist MJ Lenderman, bassist Margo Shultz, drummer Alan Miller, and lap/pedal steel player Xandy Chelmis build a shrine to minutiae. Half-funny, half-tragic dispatches from North Carolina unfurling somewhere between the wailing skuzz of Nineties shoegaze and classic country twang, that distorted lap steel and Hartzman’s voice slicing through the din.
Formed in Athens, Georgia in 2002, The Whigs have released five studio albums and toured the world with acts such as Kings of Leon, The Black Keys, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and Jason Isbell. They appeared multiple times on The Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, Late Night With Conan O’Brien, Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, and Jimmy Kimmel Live. The Whigs have records for both ATO Records and New West Records and performed at iconic venues such as Madison Square Garden, Red Rocks, Slane Castle, and Hyde Park while also making global festival appearances at Fuji Rock (Japan), T In The Park (Scotland), Rock Werchter (Belgium), Bonnaroo, and Lollapalooza among others. Their latest studio album “Modern Creation” was released in 2014 and since then lead singer Parker Gispert has co-written with Alice Cooper for his album Paranormal and released two solo albums “Sunlight Tonight” (2018) & “Golden Years” (2021). Original bassist Hank Sullivant left in 2006 to join MGMT’s live band and record under the moniker Kuroma and current bassist Timothy Deaux has become a touring member of Kings Of Leon while drummer Julian Dorio has been performing live with acts such as Eagles Of Death Metal, Band Of Skulls, Amanda Shires, and many more.
“Revolution is not a one time event.”
Those words of Black feminist icon and poet warrior Audre Lorde’s resonate strongly with A.J. Haynes. Whether in her capacity as the frontwoman of the Shreveport, Louisiana-based funk-soul-rock group Seratones or as a reproductive rights advocate, Haynes knows well that no singular revolution or simple linear narrative can contain the true strength of revolution—the kind of complex, disruptive, personal revolutions that can open transformative portals to a better future. And on Seratones’ forthcoming third album, Love & Algorhythms (due April 29nd via New West Records), Haynes foregrounds the joyful struggle to find pleasure in a world designed to destroy you. “This is a protest album built on the form of protest I’m most interested in at this moment: getting present and sitting through difficult things with abundant joy,” Haynes says.
Love & Algorhythms emerges from a duality of desire: urging the listener to start repairing their world and being a part of that artful change itself. The celestial burst of lead single “Good Day” signals that arrival, Haynes’ thrilling falsetto lifting to the skies on a neon flutter. “Do you really want to get better?/ Do you really want to get well?” she sings, Travis Stewart’s super ball bass line bouncing through the mix. Written in part as homage to novelist Toni Cade Bambara, the track blends Black gospel vocals and polyrhythms with roots spread throughout the African diaspora to produce an effervescent immediacy.
“No one escapes the marks left behind when it comes to love or the absence of it,” says singer-songwriter S.G. Goodman, describing the inspiration behind her sophomore album Teeth Marks. “Not only are we the ones who bear its indentations, but we’re also the ones responsible for placing them on ourselves and others.”
When the Kentucky native released her debut album, Old Time Feeling, she was rightly coined an “untamed rock n roll truth-teller” by Rolling Stone. The roots-inflected rock n’ roll record saw Goodman lending her gritty, haunting vocals to narrate the dual perspectives of her upbringing as the daughter of a crop farmer, and a queer woman coming out in a rural town.
Now with Teeth Marks, co-produced by Drew Vandenberg (Faye Webster, Drive-By Truckers, Of Montreal) in Athens, Georgia, she picks up the threads of Old Time Feeling. But where her critically acclaimed, Jim James-produced debut zeroed in on the South, reframing misconceptions in slough water-soaked tones, her latest album pulses with downtown Velvet Underground electricity, shifting its focus inward – though never losing Goodman’s searing and universal point of view. Teeth Marks is what you might get if Flannery O’Connor and Lou Reed went on a road trip.
Drawing influences from the aforementioned Velvets, as well as Pavement, Karen Dalton, and Chad VanGaalen, Goodman brings 11 powerful vignettes to life, with a sound that ventures deeper into indie rock and punk territory than she ever has before. Though Teeth Marks is a love album, Goodman doesn’t aim her focus on romantic relationships alone. Instead, she analyzes the way love between communities, families, and even one’s self can be influenced by trauma that lingers in the body. Teeth Marks is about what love actually is, love’s psychological and physical imprint, its light, and its darkness. It’s a record about the love we have or don’t have for each other, and perhaps, more significantly, the love we have or don’t have for ourselves.
T. Hardy Morris
In February 2020, T. Hardy Morris had it all figured out. He was busy putting the finishing touches on songs that would serve as the follow up to 2018’s Dude, the Obscure. He spent the previous few years on the road supporting that release and this group of songs felt like a logical jump forward for the singer-songwriter. With 13 songs demoed, sussed out and ready to go, Morris was excited to get his band together to rehearse the songs before hunkering down in the studio to record.
Then the pandemic hit.
Sequestered at his Athens-area home with his family, Morris, like most everyone else in the past year, mulled over what was truly important to him and in response, the acclaimed singer-songwriter decided to write. And write. And write, before crafting an entirely new set of songs that would end up comprising an entirely new album.
For the first time in his career, Morris took a micro approach to his songwriting with a long look directly inwards. Captivated by the sobering realities of the pandemic, he composed one of the most personal works yet. Titled The Digital Age of Rome, Morris tackles the well-worn anxieties of the past year as pandemic and political divisions ravaged America. The Digital Age of Rome isn’t just the album’s title, it serves as the centerpiece thematically and sonically to Morris’ message; Technology doesn’t necessarily equal progress.
Hotel Fiction is an Athens, Georgia-based band comprised of Jade Long and Jessica Thompson. Both women have been playing music for over ten years and began writing, performing, and playing together in January 2019. In August of that year, Hotel Fiction released their debut single “Astronaut Kids” which received a warm welcome from the indie scene, and went on to amass over 2 million global streams.
Hotel Fiction’s sound has often been described as genre-fluid, with indie, pop and rock influences. With Jade’s dynamic vocals and piano, and Jessica’s complementary lead guitar and harmonies, the two create a sound that invites listeners to settle in and stay a while. For Hotel Fiction, the no vacancy sign is never illuminated, everyone is accommodated here.
During quarantine, the two finished recording their debut album Soft Focus which was released in the fall of 2021. The project was met with praise from Atwood Magazine, Early Rising, A1234, and We Are the Guard, and was placed on Spotify editorial lists Fresh Finds and Fresh Finds Rock, where it spent eight weeks straight.
Most recently, Hotel Fiction has supported Beach Fossils, Adam Melchor, flipturn and The Brooke and The Bluff. The band released their new EP Enjoy Your Stay on October 28, 2022.