Imagine being able to rock a piano so well that Aerosmith wants you as its touring keyboardist. That's what happened to Russ Irwin, and he's been sharing the stage with Steven Tyler and Joe Perry for 15 years.
"I'm staring at their backsides," he tells NPR's David Greene. "It's an interesting place to be."
It's summer. It's hot. And that means it's time for a particular kind of music: the kind that streams from church basements and empty lots, raising your spirit as high as the mercury. It's revival season.
Spirit Family Reunion isn't from Appalachia or the plains; the band is from Brooklyn. Its music, though clearly Americana-based, casts a wide enough net to elude classification.
For all the attention Alabama Shakes' music has attracted in 2012 — and its album Boys & Girls marked a huge breakthrough earlier this year — the live stage is where the soulful blues-rock band transcends mere "one to watch" status. Boys & Girls is the work of polished professionals at the top of their game, but in concert, Alabama Shakes' music reaches ecstatic, sprawling, rafter-shaking heights.