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Local band doubles down on soul sound

01/30/2013

Double Wide Soul is a self-proclaimed blues, jam band from right down the street in Anniston.

Their headquarters is an old Monsanto chemical testing facility off of Noble Street, which could account for the trippy atmosphere their studio radiates. Or it could be the plethora of posters, tapestries, and records littering the walls of the place, featuring artists like: The Beatles, Bob Marley, The Who, Grateful Dead, and Johnny Cash, among others. There is even an old receptionist’s area that the band now has filled with sound equipment and instruments.

The group features Brandon Strother, 25, on guitar and Matthew Gravitt, 28, on drums. The band originally had five members, but through familial obligations and generally bad timing, three members were unable to keep up with the commitment.

“Originally, I tried to put a band together with a couple other people who I quickly realized were not serious about playing music,” said Gravitt, “about the time that I met Brandon.” The two quickly realized that they hit it off and shared a similar view and musical style.

Historically, the two-man band equation has been a successful one, stemming from the popularity of rock bands like The White Stripes and The Black Keys and singing and songwriting duos, like Simon and Garfunkel or John Lennon and Paul McCartney. That formula doesn’t change with Double Wide Soul. Gravitt and Strother are like brothers, and it really shows when they’re jamming together.

The two have been friends for years, and not only are they great together musically, but they are hilarious around each other, which may be the reason their music flows so well together. They describe their relationship onstage as a “groove.” “It’s a vibe. It’s not something that you can learn,” explained Gravitt.

“Matt can just stop, just throw a beat and stop, and we don’t have to worry about four other people getting it, because I get it, we’ve done it thousands of times,” said Strother.

Stylistically however, the two band members are very different. Gravitt found his roots and influences in old country music, as Strother grew up listening to old blues music. These guys are music lovers to their cores.

“The radio was all you had, you didn’t have cell phones to play on, and all these other distractions, you just had the radio,” said Gravitt, about his love of music from an early age.

Double Wide Soul’s sound is not something you can put your finger on. The guys look like a mix between the Blues Brothers and ZZ Top, and their sound is not far off from that either. They have this exciting, soulful vibe to their music, but there is also that classic southern rock element. “We’re trying to bring back that blues sound,” said Gravitt. It is definitely something to experience.

Although the band covers lots of crowd-pleasing classics, Strother typically writes the band’s original songs. “The most fun gig to me was when we finally got to play all of our original songs,” said Strother. “We finally got to play the stuff that we’ve been working on instead of pounding away at songs that other people have written and we’re taking credit for. I hate taking credit for a song someone else has written.”

Double Wide Soul often plays locally in Anniston bars and venues. They have played shows in Birmingham, Atlanta, Nashville, and Memphis as well.

“There’s no better feeling in the world than playing to a crowd that is receptive of what you play and enjoys what you do,” said Gravitt, “and getting that energy back is what playing music is all about.” And, man, do these guys give off a lot of energy. Sometimes between songs there will be some stage banter between the guys, or Strother will joke around with the crowd or the bartenders from the stage. 

The guys have a few local shows planned for the beginning of February at Pelham’s Bar here on the square in Jacksonville, and at The Smoking Moose, a bar on Noble Street, in Anniston.  Exact dates and times of the performances will be announced on the band’s Facebook page.

Double Wide Soul is planning a move to Colorado Springs, Colorado in the next year, to “just keep on moving and keep on progressing.”

The band’s hope for the move to Colorado is simply getting gigs, writing more songs, and continuing to grow as a band.

“We’re just trying to get some people on the left side of the country to listen to Double Wide Soul, and we’ll progress from there,” said Strother. “Then one day, who knows, we could be as famous as the dude who sang ‘Chocolate Rain.’”

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