Vanderbilt’s Rites of Spring Festival returns

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For more than 30 years, Vanderbilt University Concerts has continually provided students and the community with the freshest artists in modern music at the annual Rites of Spring Music Festival. This year is no exception!

The Roots, Wolfmother, Drive-By Truckers, Keller Williams and Mat Kearney promise to make this year’s festival the most amazing yet and a best bet for spring festivals. The Rites of Spring Music Festival will take place on Friday, April 20 and Saturday, April 21, 2007.

Paving the way for live rap, The Roots’ live shows focus more on instrumentation than samples or previously recorded material and are some of the best in the business. Australian power trio, Wolfmother, has frequently been compared to heavy chord crunchers of the ‘70’s, such as Black Sabbath and Blue. Like Wolfmother, the Drive-By Truckers offers a blistering live set, but with southern rock flair and a triple guitar attack. Rounding out Rites of Spring are singer-songwriters Keller Williams and Mat Kearney. Multi-instrumentalist Keller Williams is known for his innovative and original methods of performing. Using acoustic guitars, while looping other instruments with a Gibson Echoplex Delay system, Williams performs solo and provides his own back-up. Mat Kearney blends hip-hop beats, pop choruses, acoustic folk and spoken verses, all moving effortlessly together.

The Rites of Spring Music Festival doesn’t end with these amazing artists! Other artists confirmed for this year’s festival include The Whigs, Brett Dennen, The Dynamites, JYPSI, Amos Lee, Rocco DeLuca and the Burden, BANG BANG BANG and Naughty by Nature. Recently, Patterson Hood of the near-legendary Drive-By Truckers spoke to O&AN during a phone interview about their upcoming tour and the next album in the Truckers’ already impressive seven album catalog.

You’ve gotten a huge amount of acclaim from last year’s “A Blessing and a Curse”. When can we look forward to another album from the Drive-By Truckers?

We’ll start the next album this summer and will probably have something out sometime next year. We already have a lot of material to choose from. I think I have about 19 songs ready to record and Cooley’s got at least five ready right now. Hopefully Shonna will have a couple this time around. We haven’t gotten any of her songs on a record yet but she’s been writing a lot lately and she’s really good at it.

You and the other Truckers have been playing together for over eleven years now. With that many strong personalities in the same room for that long there have undoubtedly been some tense times in the past.

Actually, even before the Truckers Cooley and I were playing together going on 22 years now. It’s really kind of like a marriage only you’re married to a bunch of people all at once. All of us are in one way or the other temperamental. Fortunately, our rhythm section people are the kind of easy going ones that kind of make it work. I think the reason the other three of us are able to co-exist is because of how easy to work with Brad & Shonna are. I’m sure they have their days too but generally they’re pretty mellow and easy to deal with so they tend to generally have a calming effect on us.

I understand that you have all been taking it pretty easy so far this year as far as touring goes. What have you been doing to fill up the time during your break? What can fans look for as you begin your tour later this year?

I’ve done a couple of solo shows. Jason has done some solo touring as well. He’s got a solo record coming out so he’s been out there some. The rest of us have been kind of laying low. I’ve been spending a lot of time with my family and working on production projects. Cooley has been spending a lot of time with his family.
Our date in Nashville is even before the official tour itself starts and will be the first show we’ve done together as a band since New Year’s so we’re all good and rested up so that ought to be a great show. We’re doing a two week run of acoustic shows in May and we’ll be traveling cross-country and play a semi-unplugged kind of show. It won’t be unplugged in the purest sense by any means but it will be a much different show than what we normally do.

As someone who is a big fan of both your live work and your work in the studio I must say that anyone who has only heard a song or read a review of your work may be surprised at what they find in your live show. What would you tell them to prepare themselves for when they come to see your shows?

That’s a hard question to answer. It’s a very big show is the best description I can think of. There are three main songwriters in the band and each sings so there are a lot of vocals and harmonies, but there’s also a lot of guitar and it gets a little loud and kind of bigger than life at times. People who are more used to our recorded sound may be shocked to find how much bigger our sound is live than on the records. There is usually a good bit of interaction between the band and the audience so it all works together. On good nights the audience and the band kind of pushes each other along and it becomes a sort of frenzy of rock. We never do a set list or plan it out too much when we do a show so it kind of tends to happen the way the night makes us feel. The audience and what we carry onstage with us is always kind of what decides how the show goes from one night to the next. Usually no matter what style of music people are into they tend to enjoy our live shows unless they just absolutely don’t like rock music. Our songs are so dark and the records are filled with stories that are sometimes kind of political about people who haven’t always had the best luck. Sometimes they brought that on themselves and sometimes not, but they aren’t particularly happy stories a lot of the time, but the show itself is really fun.           

That brings up a great topic. Your songs are often very dark and the subject matter tends to wander into some murky territory from time-to-time. How much of the inspirations for these songs are based on real people or events?

I’d say that it varies from song to song how true they are. There are certainly a handful of the songs that are completely made up and another handful that are completely true but I’d say on the average probably 60-75% of the songs are at least based on reality. I’m definitely not above taking liberties and embellishing for the sake of the story if it makes for a better song but so often truth really is stranger than fiction so a lot of the best stories don’t really need embellishment. Sometimes they really need to be actually simplified down to where the story is easier to digest. I certainly know a lot of the people that many of the songs are based on and have gotten into a lot of trouble from time-to-time. Generally the more far-fetched the story—the more truth there is to it. I couldn’t make most of that stuff up or I wouldn’t simply because I wouldn’t think anyone would believe most of it.

WHAT: Rites of Spring Music Festival at Vanderbilt University
WHEN: Friday, April 20 and Saturday, April 21, 2007
WHERE: Alumni Lawn – Vanderbilt University Campus
TIME: 3:00 pm – Gates open; 4:00 pm to 1:00 am – Music (Both days)
TICKETS: In advance: $25 – Day Pass; $40 – Weekend Pass

Both shows are open to the general public. Tickets will go on sale Saturday, March 3rd at 10 am CST at all Ticketmaster locations, including the F.Y.E. for your entertainment store on West End Avenue, online at www.ticketmaster.com, at Grimey’s New & Preloved Music in Nashville (www.grimeys.com) or by calling 615-255-9600. Tickets can also be purchased with Cash or Check with no service fees included only at the Sarratt Box Office on the Vanderbilt campus. For more information call 615-343-3361.

Free parking is available at the Terrace Place Parking Garage, located off 21st Avenue South on Terrace Place.