Oct 31, 2013 – There are fewer – and more far-flung – Heathens these days in the Band of Heathens, who have been one of the more acclaimed groups in Austin, Texas, for nearly a decade.
In 2005, three singer-songwriters who all had their own solo careers noted the chemistry among them when they sang with each other, and decided to throw in together. Gordy Quist, Ed Jurdi and Colin Brooks became the Band of Heathens, which released seven albums (four live and three studio).
Two years ago, Brooks left to pursue other interests. Quist and Jurdi are continuing, having also gotten a new rhythm section.
The band has also enjoyed success in central Arkansas. In fact, the band performed here as recently as July 20, also at the Revolution Room, where they’ll perform Wednesday.
“We’ve been hitting Little Rock for a number of years, but we didn’t have this new album out in July,” Quist says, referring to Sunday Morning Record, which was released Sept. 17. “It’s more of a wooden, acoustic record, maybe a little more introspective.
“We tried to put the distractions of the world on the back burner, and while the name of the album isn’t that literal, it is sort of like a time for reflection, for recovery from a week or a weekend.”
Among the other changes for the band were impending parenthood for Quist and his wife and a move to Asheville, N.C., by Jurdi and his family. Modern technology, of course, makes it easy for bands to exist no matter where the members choose to live.
“Ed’s moving kind of accelerated our desire to tour for two, three or four weeks and then take some time off,” Quist says. “In the past, we were constantly going out, picking up gigs around Texas. Now, with digital technology, we can work on songs, send them back and forth and not just make a living, but embrace it.”
Jurdi and Quist sing, play guitars and harmonica. The rhythm section now consists of Trevor Nealon on keyboards and Richard Millsap on drums. A rotating cast of bass players has gone out on tour with the four band members.
In their transition from a three-man front to two singers, Quist says the band has listened to a lot of soul music, along with the music of Jackson Browne, Neil Young, The Beach Boys and lesser-known British singer Michael Kiwanuka.
In live shows, the Band of Heathens likes to sprinkle in a few cover songs, ranging from the Grateful Dead and Gillian Welch to David Rawlings, Bob Dylan and The Band. And The Band, especially, holds a firm place in the hearts of the Band of Heathens.
“When we heard the news about Levon Helm’s death, we were actually driving through his old stamping grounds, near Helena,” Quist says. “So when we got to Little Rock, Ed and I wrote a song for him, it’s just called ‘One More Song,’ and recorded it on a laptop. That night we played it as our encore at the Rev Room.
“There’s a song he did a long time back that we especially are impressed with – ‘Hurricane,’ from Levon’s … album, American Son. The song, which had kind of been forgotten, is about a hurricane like Katrina coming through New Orleans.”
Band of Heathens
Opening act: Joe Fletcher & the Wrong Reasons
9 p.m. Friday, Revolution Room, 300 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock
$10 advance; $12 day of show
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