Photos by Lori Sky Twohy
This upcoming Memorial Day weekend marks Perpetual Groove’s tenth annual Amberland. If you haven’t made your weekend plans yet, it’s highly recommended that you take a trip down to Cherokee Farms in La Fayette, GA for what may appear to be your average music and arts festival, but is really so much more. Amberland is a lot more intimate than most festivals. It feels more like a family gathering or backyard BBQ and that’s exactly the way the band likes it.
JBO recently talked to PGroove’s Brock Butler about Amberland and other band news, past present and future, with a little help from the winner of our “Help Interview Perpetual Groove” contest we recently held on Facebook.
JBO: Hi Brock, it’s so nice to talk to you today, lets get the interview rolling buy asking some questions about Amberland?. How long have you been doing it and how did it get started?
BB: Well, this is the tenth year and it started off by us playing a memorial day BBQ given by a friend of ours who named the gathering after his wife whose name was Amberley. Eventually with the party being so close to Athens, it became larger and turned into more of a concert.
JBO: I went last year and couldn’t help but notice the backyard BBQ vibe. It was quite different in a cozy comfortable way then most of the music festival I attend. And this is the way you try to keep it?
BB: Yes and actually this will be the first year we have 5 other bands playing with us.
JBO: does this mean you are trying to start making it larger and more like other music festivals or are you going to still try and keep it intimate?
Brock: It will still feel like a family gathering, because these are all bands we have done shows with over the last two years and they are all really good friends of ours.
BB: Yes, it’s one of our very close friends and former manager who has helped the band in many ways over the years.
JBO: Can’t beat a wedding to help keep the family vibe of Amberland going, right?
BB: Yes, We’ve had many engagements at Amberland, but this is the first wedding and we’re really excited about it.
JBO: Is there anything else you would like our readers to know about Amberland and your plans for the weekend?
BB: We have some new covers in the works, as well as some new originals. We will have old music and new music, as well as some collaboration between us and the other bands, so it should be a lot of fun and pretty exciting. People should also know that, like we discussed earlier, it’s pretty chill…So if you have a bad taste for large festivals, like Bonnaroo for instance, this might be a better fit. Unlike the larger festivals, everything is in very close walking distance and there aren’t a lot of different things going on at the same time. It brings a sense of unity to the audience.
JBO: Well thank you Brock, I hope people respond well to this information, decide to buy up the last of the Amberland tickets and head out this weekend to Cherokee Farms. In the meantime, we recently held a contest on facebook, where we asked fans to send in questions for you. The winner of the contest, who we thought had the best questions, was Eric Garner from Palm Desert California.
JBO: Eric’s first question is: While I love seeing you guys in smaller venues, because of the intimacy and personal connection you can make with the audience, I think it would also be cool to see you play some larger venues, as maybe the opening act of another band on the scene, in order to get your music out to the masses who haven’t had the opportunity to hear you. Is this something you are open to?
BB: It is actually. It’s something we’ve discussed for the future. Particularly with this fan being from California, the question makes a lot of sense, because were not really established out west. We’ve talked about the opportunity to open for someone like Tea Leaf Green or ALO or other bands who are like the California equivalent of us; kind of a west coast Perpetual Groove as far as there size and draw. We definitely think that would help us get exposure to people out that way.
JBO: I agree. Eric’s next question is: I love the new album “Heal.” How different was the vibe and process of recording it, when you combine the fact that it was the first one with John Hruby and the first time you recorded in Athens?
BB: It was very different by comparison. While I like “Livelovedie,” when I listen to it, by comparison, “Heal,” as an album, is everything that I hoped it would be, thanks to our working with producer David Barbe. He also worked with me on my solo record. I really like his philosophy and attitude and it was really fun to go into a big fancy studio.
JBO: I would imagine that being a jam band, where you’re mainly known for your live performances, being in a studio would be a very different experience.
BB: It is. Over the years, we’ve learned that capturing the moments of spontaneous creativity is a lot easier during a live show because there is room for a lot of improvisation. In the studio, you want to have that improvisation too, because you don’t want to get too charted out, or it would get a little stale.
JBO: The next question that Eric came up with is something we touched on a little bit earlier when we were talking about Amberland, which are covers. How do you guys pick or decide what cover tunes you want to play?
BB: We try to choose things that aren’t aimed at any particular listening audience and try to find some diamonds in the rough. In the past, when we did maybe some Peter Gabriel or Paul Simon, the audience was maybe familiar with the artist, but after hearing our take on the songs, it got them to go and explore the artist a little bit further. It’s definitely not a “main steam” thing.
JBO: Eric’s final question is: Living is Southern California; the opportunities are few and far between to be able to see you guys live. Do you have any plans of possibly putting out a DVD so I can turn my friends on to your live performances?
BB: Yeah, that is another thing that we’ve talked about. We’re just trying to figure out what is the best way to go about doing that. The Georgia Theatre burned down recently and that would be our first choice as far as a venue, so when it’s rebuilt, we might like to do a 2 night run and film it there. It would definitely be nice to add this to our merch menu. Our new management company, Blue Mountain Artists, I believe, will do a great job in helping facilitate that.
JBO: Well it was awesome talking to you Brock. JBO will definitely be there this weekend to review the festival and we are so looking forward to it.
BB: Well please stop by and say hello and thank you so much for your interest.