brother ben music stage
thad & company
brother ben music stage schedule
SATURDAY, OCT 14:
9:30-10:30am – Druid Ukes
11:00am-12:00pm – Diablo Sandwich and the Dr. Peppers
12:30-1:45pm – Caleb Elliot
2:15-3:30pm – Thad and Company
3:45-5:00pm – Mike Cooley
SUNDAY, OCT 15:
10:00-11:00am – Max-Planck Gymnasium Big Band
11:30am-12:30pm – Patrick O’Sullivan
1:00-2:15pm – Kaydee Mulvehill
2:30-4:00pm – Gary Nichols
about the artists
artists listed in order of appearance
The Druid Ukes, formerly the Tuscaloosa Ukulele Club, will be playing old and new favorites. Lyric sheets will be distributed and we hope you'll lend your voice to our morning singalong!
Hailing from the Classic City, (Athens, Georgia), Diablo Sandwich and the Dr. Peppers performs a plethora of bluegrass, country, jazz, and rock.
Like the sprawling branches of a tenured Magnolia, Caleb Elliott’s sophomore album Weed, Wine & Time is beauty and grit personified. There are songs that began over a decade ago in Lafayette, La elegantly woven together with younger tunes crafted in Florence, Alabama (the place Elliott calls his “musical home”). The result is genre defiant grandeur. There are veins of JJ Cale country, the soul-jazz of Michael Kiwanuka, and the lyric fragility of Sufjan Stevens crisscrossing throughout WW&T. With these songs, Elliott’s mastery of craft and nuance are on full display. Track to track, Elliott confidently paints with the full gamut of emotion. From the Spring lightness of the title track to the wrecking-ball weight of FUBC (written in honor of a lost loved one), Elliott grafts equal amounts of hope and hurt into the root system of WW&T. Elliott’s uncanny ability to marry ear-worm hooks with complex & honest feeling has made WW&T his most impressive album yet.
Recorded and mixed at the Florence, AL studio Sun Drop Sound, WW&T is the production lovechild of Elliott & his long time friend/engineer/collaborator Ben Tanner. Also lending talent to the liner notes are a cavalcade of Elliott’s music community that includes John Paul White, Zac Cockrell, AJ Haynes and Maggie Rose (among others). When combined, the resulting album has a depth chart of multiple Grammy and Americana award winning contributors.
Weed, Wine & Time is an album replete with soothing catharsis and challenging introspection. It does what all great albums do: It invites a listener to fall in love with both the music and the message. Between it’s joy, heartache, expertise and timeless feel, Weed, Wine & Time is a veritable gumbo of great music. It is a sonic dish carefully prepared with affection and served with the intent to move and to please. WW&T begs you to taste and see. Which is fitting when you consider that Louisiana-born Elliott believes “Nothing says I love you more than making someone a gumbo.” He has done just that, and it is delicious.
Thad Saajid is an R&B artist from Florence, Alabama, known for his effortless melodies, deft lyricism, and vibrant live performances. Saajid got his start playing church music, honing his abilities on organ and piano in the rich context of the Southern gospel tradition. 2019 saw the release of his first solo project, “The Anti-Social, Pt. 1.” Since then Saajid has released several EPs and singles, most notably 2022’s “Trash Talk,” a fresh take on neo-soul and R&B which pays homage to his gospel roots. “Trash Talk” garnered widely positive reviews, including a feature on NPR Music’s “Spotlight of the Month.” His newest project, “Wait, Be Careful With This,” is slated for release in September 2023 on Single Lock Records.
Whether battling valiantly from behind the enemy lines of his dive-bar-underground past or blowing the doors off sold-out theaters as he’s done with Drive-By Truckers for the last decade, Mike Cooley has proved his mettle time and time again. He’s rock & roll incarnate—Mick and Keith rolled into one impossibly cool, soul-howling, guitar rattlin’ ball of genuine unapologetic grit and swagger. At least that’s how it seems gazing up from the crowd at a packed DBT show.
So how did this modern-day rock hero feel about temporarily ditching his band and rolling back the volume for the unaccompanied acoustic performances that would become his debut solo record, The Fool on Every Corner?
“When you don’t do it normally, it’s terrifying,” Cooley admits. “I try to relax, but I’ll probably never be able to sit down in a chair on stage as easily as I sit down on a toilet behind a closed door. That’s the goal—somewhere in between,” he deadpans. “I set the bar high.”
Despite his bad nerves and tongue-in-cheek penchant for self-deprecation, Cooley shines on this bare-bones live set, tossing aside his guitar pick and playing almost everything with his fingers. “Strip it, strip it, strip it down,” he says, alluding to the mantra that guided these performances. “What’s left is the song and nothing else.”
The Tuscaloosa-Schorndorf Sister Cities partnership celebrates its 28th Anniversary this year, and the 35-member Max Planck Gymnasium (High School) Big Band is thrilled to once again perform at Kentuck Festival of the Arts! The MPG Big Band performs a variety of jazz, vocal and instrumental crowd-pleasing hit tunes such as "Feelin' Good and catchy "But Not For Me" to Adele's hit James Bond film tune "Skyfall". Schorndorf is known as "Die Daimlerstadt", the birthplace of legendary automotive pioneer Gottlieb Daimler. Tuscaloosa is proud of its strong and thriving partnership with Schorndorf, and honored to host the MPG Band! Willkommen!
Patrick O'Sullivan was born in California in the mid 1980s. He spent much of his childhood pulling tabs off of empty Coors cans and goat-heads out of bike tires. As for foxtails in socks, he would just get new socks. In addition to being a musician, he is also a visual artist and works in theatre production. He lives in Holt, Alabama and is instrumental in the art community, hosting exhibition openings in his home, the Ora Mae Gallery.
Living in Birmingham Alabama, Kaydee Mulvehill started performing and writing songs at age 15. Now at 33, she continues crafting the stories that shape who she is becoming. Whether on a stage or behind the bar of a local haunt, her craft is revealed through heady conversation and introspective lyrics and a rawness that will knock you off your seat.
Gary Nichols has announced his return to music with a number one single and a heart-rending album.
Gary Nichols spent seven years with The SteelDrivers, stepping in for founding member Chris Stapleton when he made his exit in 2009 to pursue a career in country music. Nichols seemed an ideal replacement, with his soulful, bluesy voice. He recorded a pair of successful projects with the band, taking home a Grammy in the process. When the Alabama native dropped out of the band, and seemingly off the planet, in 2017, SteelDrivers fans were flummoxed and confused. But Gary had decided that it was finally time to deal with his addictions.
Fully recovered, and with a newfound passion for music, he has signed with Nashville’s RBR Entertainment, and begun recording bluegrass again with Billy Droze producing. Their debut collaboration, "Fire In The Dark” reached number one on both the Grassicana and Bluegrass Today charts. On a parallel path, with his producing partners Dan Hannon and Michael Shane Wright, he has completed the recording of an album in Muscle Shoals called “Learning How To Walk Again” that tells the story of his rise and fall and the road to recovery that followed.
“Man, I’m so excited to be making music again. I haven’t recorded an album since the Muscle Shoals Recordings with The SteelDrivers back in 2014. So much has happened since then and I can’t wait to play for you and to tell you about it!”
why 'brother ben'?
The Brother Ben Music Stage is named in honor of folk artist B.F. Perkins.
Alabama farm boy, underage Merchant Marine, U.S. Marine and Presidential bodyguard, FBI agent, revival tent minister, celebrated folk artist from Fayette, Alabama. All are chapters in the remarkable life of Benjamin Franklin Perkins who, like his namesake, followed his curiosities, ambitions, and higher callings to explore the world, serve his country and free his soul. He attended the Kentuck Festival of the Arts for many years and his artwork is in many private collections and museum collections around the world.