After having taken most of 2014 off from writing and playing music, Alamantra founder Bobby Shiflett started looking to put together a new project as a way to explore a jazzier, lighter vein of songwriting. He says, “I was looking for something that could both interest my ear and encourage me to raise my game.”
The first thing he needed was the right vocalist for what he had in mind and a search quickly led him to Jennifer Skates. This was most fortunate. In addition to having a distinct and dynamic voice, Jennifer is an accomplished songwriter, lyricist, and instrumentalist who also plays flute and trumpet. Jennifer comes from a strong musical family that is known to fans of bluegrass as The Brasher Brothers. Her dad and uncles have all been inducted into the Alabama Bluegrass Hall of Fame so she is driven by a natural desire to build upon and extend her family’s musical legacy.
Bobby and Jennifer, along with Bobby’s wife, Catt Shiflett, began collaborating on writing new material and in a very short time had 20 or so songs in various stages of completion. They added to these some covers that range from Bossa Nova classics like ‘One Note Samba‘ and ‘Girl from Ipanema‘ to Dusty Springfields, ‘The Look of Love,’ Adele’s, ‘Right as Rain‘ and Amy Winehouse’s, ‘You Know I’m No Good.’ Bobby had been listening to a good bit of Be Bop, Samba and Bossa Nova and so these elements began to appear more and more in his own song stream; which he still managed to keep grounded in the Southern aesthetic that is the common vernacular for all three of the band’s writers. Even with the more Latin flavored rhythms and smooth, exotic trappings, their music never comes completely untethered from its bluesy, Americana roots. The sound is cohesive, original and organic.
“I find Jazz and Bossa Nova to be some of the most naturally “psychedelic” i.e. mind expanding music the world has to offer. These forms are malleable enough to work well with the eclectic approach we’ve always taken. We have always been and always will be genre benders and blenders. It’s what we do.” Bobby Shiflett
Jennifer, Catt, and Bobby began calling their new project “The Other Day,” and set out to put a band together around this new set of songs. Throughout most of late 2014 and the first half of 2015 they tried a few different lineups with some of Birmingham’s brighter musical lights sitting in, even playing a couple of preliminary shows, but the band still struggled to find its own chemistry. By early May of 2015, it looked like the whole project might come unraveled.
On May 16, 2015, the original lineup of Alamantra played a one-off show at Montgomery’s Head on the Door for Bobby’s birthday. After the show, original Alamantra members Andrew Reid (bass) and Bobby’s brother, Kenneth Shiflett (drums) offered their abilities to The Other Day. Having played together in various projects since 1993, Bobby, Kenneth and Andrew have such a deep understanding of each others musical ways that their playing sometimes resembles telepathy. Things began to move more quickly from that point on.
A handful of rehearsals whittled twenty songs down to seven that they felt were “ready enough,” and then the band went into Avondale Sound Studios in Birmingham to record their debut release, “Night Flowers.”
Originally, keyboardist Matt Slocum (Aquarium Rescue Unit, Oteil & the Peacemakers, Jimmy Herring Band) was supposed to play on the sessions but, in the end, scheduling difficulties prevailed. Instead, The Other Day sought out the talents of veteran keyboardist, Derek Nolin (Earthbound, Rescue Dogs) who had previously played on Alamantra’s Workingman’s Bread sessions. This proved to be serendipitous as Derek brought just the kind of feel, nuance, and rich musical vocabulary that the band was looking for. By the end of the sessions, he was asked to join The Other Day as a creative, permanent member. Musician at large, Jeff Waites (The High Fidelics, Zarinah and the Zaratans, The Wall Street Traitors) also showed up to the studio with a couple of bags of percussion goodies to finish out the sessions and the band is content to let the results speak for themselves. Even though “Night Flowers” isn’t set to be released until mid January 2016, previews of the tracks have been well received and the first track, “Sway” started getting airplay on Andrea Young’s “Jazz from Aspen” on Aspen Public Radio in early November (2015).
The songs on “Night Flowers” are lean and delivered by musician’s seasoned enough to not waste their notes. The vocals are original and vibrant. The melodies and rhythms seem casual, relaxed and easy on the ear, making this music ideal for an evening of cocktails and candlelight. Even though there’s a lot of romance going on, the lyrics always elevate rather than insult the listener’s sensibilities. They strive to remind us that music IS poetry. However the band simply calls it “music for dancin’ and music for lovin,’” and they just want you to enjoy it. Enjoy!