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Traveler’s Rest, Outformation

Submitted by on April 28, 2009 – 8:36 AMNo Comment
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outformation1Outformation’s second full-length CD,  Traveler’s Rest, that came out in 2007 is the latest studio effort by this high-energy five-piece jam/Southern rock band from Atlanta. Named the Best New Band by Honest Tune Magazine, Outformation has cut wide swaths across the country bringing their good time and their roadhouse rock to booties everywhere.

Outformation is the brainchild of Sam Holt (the guitar tech for the late Michael Houser of Widespread Panic), bassist Grady Upchurch, and New Orleans drummer/singer Lee Schwartz. Formed in 2002, they toured, honing songs until they went into the studio and produced their first full-length CD, Tennessee Before Daylight, in 2005. Their sound was so infectious, it was no wonder these Southern boys soon found themselves at SXSW, Bonnaroo, High Sierra, Wakarusa, Allgood, Hookahville,  Magnoliafest, and the 10,000 Lakes Festival (a destination festival that many musicians are vieing to play at).

I caught this band at 10,000 Lakes Festival and have followed their releases closely. So, when Traveler’s Rest ended up in my mailbox, I was pumped. This album showcases Outformation’s two newest additions to the band:  percussionist Jeff Lane and keyboard virtuoso CR Gruver. It also features a collaboration with Widespread Panic on the title cut. Of special note is Mickey Raphael’s harmonica on “Winds,” a honkytonk bluesy, Western tune. Raphael is a regular member of the Willie Nelson’s Family Band.

Though Outformation was given a friendly assist, the album clearly shows off the talents of this band. Outformation’s new sound is full-bodied and multi-layered, crossing into funk and jazz, Western and blues, and country rock of another generation, with players who are mature, expressive, and extremely dedicated. Ever present, their straight up Southern rock keeps Outformation warm, natural, and in a deep-in-the-pocket rock groove.

When the band went into the studio to record Traveler’s Rest, Sam Holt left Widespread Panic permanently to devote his full attention to Outformation. That move has been a boon to the band, allowing Outformation to focus its energies on the exploration and expansion of their new sound. Though the band writes its own lyrics and they have accomplished lead singers with great harmony backups, their instrumental prowess is their strong suit. Outformation really concentrates on the jams, with shortest tune, “Edgewater,” clicking in at a bit over three minutes. Most of the tracks clock img_0444in around five minutes, with the last, track, the monster title track that they co-wrote with Widespread Panic, says it’s ten and a half minutes, but it’s only about seven minutes then there is a pause and a whole different songs starts that fills out the rest of the time. Frankly, the song “Traveler’s Rest” is a rather dark tune and the additional little jam ends the album on a funky, happy note.

Outformation has honed their live concerts to a bootie-moving, shoulder-shimming, soul experience. The jams are long and intricate. The lyrics and vocals are clever and well-executed. The percussion is colorful and poly-rhythmic, layering not only with drumset but hand drums as well. And, the guitar and bass are spot on. But it is the organ/key work that not only adds color but really rips up the crowds.

No matter how good this latest album is, Outformation’s live shows are not to be missed. You owe it to yourself to catch the grooves of Outformation live. Check out their website (http://www.foryouroutformation.com)  for tour dates.

Beer Pairing: Yellowstone Valley Brewing Company’s Huckleberry Wheat (just enough huckleberry to be called a fruit beer without the tart bite-reminds me of the Southern Mountains)