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Bay Area groups to jam Friday in Grass Valley

With a genre-blurring kaleidoscopic sound of funk, blues, pop and rock, the Bay Area-based jam band Animal Liberation Orchestra is bringing its party to Grass Valley at an 8 p.m. Friday concert at The Center for the Arts.

ALO has developed a substantial live following in the West. After last year’s release of the album “Sounds Like This,” Rolling Stone Magazine dubbed ALO as one of the “25 Can’t-Miss Acts.”

In addition, ALO has recently been named part of this year’s lineup at the ninth annual Mountain Jam Music Festival in New York.



ALO is known for its head spinning and creative touring schedule. They have cemented a live performance reputation and regularly play at some of the biggest music festivals in the country.

For years, band members, have felt uneasy about the label of “jam band.”




“We’ve never fit into any quickly digestible category. It’s just a different kind of experience,” said ALO’s keyboardist and vocalist, Zach Gill.

In the band, Gill joins childhood friends: guitarist Dan “Lebo” Lebowitz and bassist Steve Adams. The three formed their first band together during junior high. In 2002, drummer Dave Brogan reunited with the band and solidified the current lineup.

Acclaimed for their musicianship, songwriting and lively stage presence, all band members struggle to balance a number of other projects. All the members are heavily involved in other bands and concert performances.

“Sounds Like This” is the fourth album released on Jack Johnson’s label, Brushfire Records. ALO took an unstructured approach to the studio process for the album and it worked.

“There has always been a division between the fans that get to know us through our live shows versus the fans that get to know us through our albums. This album bridges that gap,” said Lebowitz.

Members of ALO met Jack Johnson while they were college students at UC Santa Barbara. At the time, they fiercely competed against each other to be the biggest backyard party band in the freshmen dorms.

“It started as a rivalry,” said Gill.

Pretty soon they all become friends and started playing music, touring and recording together.

“They can improvise and jam as good as anyone I’ve ever seen. But they got these songs that really stick in your head as well,” Johnson said. In 2010, ALO accompanied Johnson on a national headlined U.S. summer tour.

Opening for ALO will be another Bay Area band, The California Honeydrops. Formed four years ago in the subway stations of Oakland, The California Honeydrops dig deep into the roots of American music, embracing the traditions of blues, gospel, New Orleans jazz and early rhythm and blues.

With their performances of traditional and original music, The California Honeydrops are known to get people out of their seats and onto the dance floor.

The California Honeydrops have recorded two full-length albums and completed six European tours and many more in the U.S., all without the help of a record label or major booking agency.

They say their secret can be found in their talented musicianship and ability to create an irresistible sound that blends the energy and intimacy of a street performance and the soul and fervor of a street parade.

Tickets for Friday’s show are $22 for members, $25 for non-members, and are available at The Center Box Office, BriarPatch Co-op and online at online at http://thecenterforthearts.org.

For information, go to http://thecenterforthearts.org.


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